America Ferrera educates many

Star focuses on education initiatives

Ed Norton | HFPA | Katie Couric | America Ferrera | David Spade | Quincy Jones | Sam Waterston | Kristin Chenoweth | Scarlett Johansson | Ethan Hawke | Bill Maher | Jay Leno | Ryan Reynolds

Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 73% of the population living on less than a dollar a day. Only 46% of the people are literate.

America Ferrera, Save the Children’s education ambassador, remembers her first visit to a rural village in Africa. “Their school was made of sticks and mud,” she says. “There were four kids to a desk. The walls were coming down. Termites were eating the school.”

Before she left, Ferrera promised to return to build a new school. “These young children burst into applause. And as this mother of eight talked to me about the challenges of sending a daughter to school versus a son, she started to tear up,” she says.

That experience galvanized the “Ugly Betty” star’s commitment to Save the Children and its mission to create positive change in the lives of children in need both in the U.S. and around the world. She even launched her Build a School campaign on Facebook last December, quickly raising the $44,000 necessary to construct a the new school in the village of Dassadeni, Mali. Scheduled to open in October, the facility includes several classrooms, new textbooks, a library, water well and bathrooms.

Save the Children has other success stories.

“We did not have enough books for the 87 children who range in age from 6 to 14 years old,” says Aminata Bayago, a schoolmaster in Mounkoro, Mali. “We had many difficulties like lack of classrooms, benches and desks. We now have six new rooms thanks to Save the Children. And our children are happier. They often go to play in the school even on days off. And the children’s performances have improved because of the books.”

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