Swiss Students experience the Desert School of Ouladnagim

In the photos Ouladnagim's Desert School. Photo © V. Krebs
In the photos Ouladnagim's Desert School. Photo © V. Krebs

Project at a glance

Dates and Place

30 November -1, Mali, Guinea, South Africa, Uganda

Project details

I decided to be part of the UNESCO Group because I wanted to be part of a charitable project where I felt that I would really be helping someone, to know why and to do as much as possible to achieve this. In this Group, each of us can express his or her desires, and impressions for an idea that is common to all of us: building the school, 'Oasis of the Desert'."  Lucie von der Weid, 17 years old, Switzerland


Ouadnagim is a Tuareg community of 1500 people who live in the Sahel desert on the far side of Timbuktu. ICVolunteers has been accompanying the tribe through its CyberVolunteers Programme activities since 2003. That is how the website was created, thanks to the support of Hewlett-Packard.

The community's well and its new Desert School are located 120 km from Timbuktu. Until now, the children of the desert did not have the possibility to go to school and were therefore illiterate.

Now, however, there is good news: the very first school year at the Desert School began on the 15th October 2006! A retired teacher from the high-school of Timbuktu decided in fact to teach in the desert. He speaks Tamasheq and knows the local customs well. He will settle down at the camp where the community provides him with a tent and food. Thanks to the generosity of Mirjam Brunner, a volunteer who taught at Ouladnagim this summer, the community will even be able to pay him a small salary of CFA 40,000 per month. 

Shindouk, the community leader, has also been able to find pencils and notebooks, donated by a Ghanaian friend, as well as a small blackboard. The tutor will teach the children the basics of reading and writing and elementary calculations with the available means.

As the community has around 50 to 60 children aged between 5 and 15, there will be continued endeavors to ensure good-quality basic education for all, inasmuch as is possible. The community has begun procedures to obtain acknowledgement by the National Education Board, which would ensure that a teacher is posted/assigned and that his or her salary is paid through the public schooling system, but nothing has been confirmed yet...

The students of the UNESCO Group of the junior high-schools of Candolle and Calvin are preparing different fundraising activities for the Desert School of Ouladnagim.

Your books are sent to African high schools and documentation centres.

Schoolbooks, computer science books, classics, dictionaries and reference books are welcome, especially in French, English, Portuguese or any other regional African language.

If your lovely grandmother has given you in the past twenty years twenty copies of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary, if your soulmate cannot remember you changed your operating system two years ago and keeps buying you books for the old version or if there are so many books in your apartment that you cannot add any other one unless you throw away your fridge, we have the solution to your plight!

Come to ICV office to drop part of your treasure and we will send it where these books can be useful.


Feedback from Moctar Ba, Head of Ibrahima Ly High School in Bamako, Mali: "I am sending this to thank you again for what you did. The books you gave us have a major educational value and I am sure this is the start to a new cooperation."

Role of ICVolunteers

Role of ICVolunteers: Part of ICVolunteers' work consisted in informing and raising awareness to help the community find new partners.

In the context of its CyberVolunteers Programme, ICVolunteers is in charge of keeping the students of Mali and Switzerland in touch. It is also facilitating access to volunteers and contacts in Mali itself.

Long Term Projects

ICVolunteers promotes volunteerism and its recognition, by enhancing civic commitment and involvement, and by providing leadership and links between organizations, individuals and communities. With this perspective, ICVolunteers develops projects and leads initiatives.

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