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a collaboration by Grade 4 & 5 students at the American International School of Bamako, Mali, West Africa, mali health organizing project, and Grade 4 - 8 Students from Ecole Privée Soma Niakaté, Ecole privée N'Tjiproko, and Ecole de Privée de Sikoro Plateau.

Ami & The Challenges of Doom

Adventures in Conquering Malnutrition a collaboration by Grade 4 & 5 students at the American International School of Bamako, Mali, West Africa, mali health organization project Grade 4 - 8 Students from Ecole Privée Soma Niakaté, Ecole privée N'Tjiproko, Ecole de Privée de Sikoro Plateau The American International School of Bamako is a small international school with a very strong sense of community, educating students ages 2 - 18 years old. We welcome students from over 30 nationalities. We offer an American-style curriculum and our programs are designed to educate the whole child. Students in high school have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement exams. The language of instruction is English and all students also learn French. www.aisbmali.org AISB Instructor: Jeff Fessler AISB Classroom Assistant: Ben Amegatsey AISB Director: Caroline Jacoby AISB French Teacher (French Translation): Ousmane Barry, Isabelle ThomazeauPepin AISB Grade 4 & 5 Students (Writing & Illustration) Aida Sarr Charity Nuhu Isaac Tomeho Seyni Traore Aissatou Doumbia Clara Saiel Jesse Wilson Soraya Keita Amadou Kane Clara Schoepp Maimouna Haidara Yasmina Traore Belinda Nzungize El-shadai Barry Max Newman Yohann Tankoano Bijan Philippart Gladd Mbaoh Nil Palacios AISB Grade 6 - 8 Students (French Translation) Anouk Ganga Sick Sow Mahmoud Nimaga Matthijs Nelen Wendyam Ouedraogo

Eva Palacios Douah Diarra Chade Van de Fliert Druv Nankani Tristan Pelzer

Likael Poulet Roman Pelzer Shameilah Schumann Mathies Dicko Shima Sarah Claire Nego A. Matsinhe

Grade 4 - 8 Students from Ecole Privée Soma Niakaté, Ecole privée N'Tjiproko, Ecole de Privée de Sikoro Plateau Instructors: Mr. Ibrahim Kanti Sissoko, Mr. Soma Lucien Niare, Mr. Diallo Gouro Kane, Mr. Diabate Drissa Kadidiatou Sissoko Awa Coulibaly Awa Coulibaly Moussa Coulibaly Koule Doucoure

Balkissa Darry Fatoumata Guindo Adam N’diaye Djeneba Diakite Beydi Traore

Ami Guindo Yaya Diarra Kadidiatou Kone Balkissa Barry Adama Diallo Anta Guindo Bakary Faraban Kone Bougary Samassékou

Mali Health Organizing Project www.malihealth.org Mali Health’s mission is to reduce maternal and child mortality in resource-poor communities in West Africa. To achieve this, Mali Health implements replicable programs that improve access to quality primary care at low costs, while increasing the capacity of and participation in local health systems. Mali Health Executive Director: Kris Ansin Programs Director: Mariam Fofana Diallo Director of Community Mobilization: Dramane Diarra Medical Advisor: Dr. Diakardia Traore Printing of this graphic novel was made possible with generous donations from the Doumbia Family, Haidara Family, Keita Family, Philipart Family, Saiel Family, Schoepp Family, and Total Mali.

Ami and her family live in Sikoro, a neighborhood in Bamako, Mali that is home to 80,000 people. Malnutrition is a huge problem in Sikoro as it is throughout Mali, and her parents discuss the problem.

Nearly two out of five children in Mali suffer from chronic malnutrition.

And one in 3 Malian children are underweight.

i just wish there was something i could do.

That night Ami hears a strange sound as she sleeps.


What’s that noise?


She looks out the window and see the strangest sight ever. It is a four-headed donkey!

Hi, AMi!

I’m Malisa, a magical donkey who helps solves problems.

Huh? Who are you?

Working donkeys are essential to the livelihoods of many families in Mali. Because they work so hard in very bad conditions, it is important that they are treated in a humane way. That means not overloading or whipping them, giving them adequate food and water, and treating their injuries.


I need your help to prevent malnutrition.

You mean “WE” need your help….

Sure! Malnutrition is a lack of proper nutrition caused by not having enough to eat...

Ami, do you know what malnutrition is?

Or being unable to use the food you eat because you are sick.

Or not eating enough of the right foods – you have to eat a balanced diet.

What do you mean unable to use the food you eat?


This will explain it: How Diarrhea and Malnutrition


You use so much energy fighting infections that it keeps your body from growing.



Your body can’t absorb nutrients.

Nutrients are flushed out or used by parasites.

Your immune system is weakened for the next infection.



Malnutrition is a huge problem, but if we all work together we can get rid of it!

But what can i do to help? I’m just a kid?


Kids can do a lot, Ami. But right now I....I mean “WE”..... have a special challenge just for you.

Magical Malisa gives Ami a map and challenges her to begin a quest. It involves traveling to three different cities in Mali solving malnutrition puzzles.


Timbuktu Sanitation challenge: Hidden item puzzle

Djene Water Challenge: Maze puzzle

Dogon Country Hygiene Challenge: Symbol puzzle.


If you are successful at each challenge, you receive a special mask.

Collect all the masks.

I’ll do it! I want to do my part to solve the problem of malnutrition.

Thanks, Malisa! Excellent! Here’s some healthy food for the trip.

They are the “key” to solving the malnutrition problem.

When Ami wakes up, she thinks Magic Malisa was all a dream…until she sees the map and lunch bag.

She tells her parents she’s off to Bancone Plateau, the village where her grandparents live.


...but instead she hops a pirogue to Djene, the first destination on her malnutrition quest.

After a few hours she opens the lunch bag from Magic Malisa.

Just then she sees a pod of hippos.

Inside the bag she also finds a piece of wood shaped like a banana.

I read that hippos live in groups of up to 30 animals. They are the only mammals that produce pink milk!

I wonder what this wooden banana is for? Maybe a good luck charm?

Yum! I love rice and peanut sauce. And oranges too!


Ami finally arrives in Djene and sees the Grand Mosque.

It’s beautiful! I read that it’s the largest mud brick mosque in the whole world. The original was built in the 13th century, but this version is from 1907. It’s one of the most famous sites in all of Africa.

But enough sightseeing….. time to do my Water Challenge!


Hmmm, in this water challenge I must navigate through a complicated maze while answering questions about using water safely. I can do it!

She carefully reads the water challenge directions on the back of the map.

She arrives at the designated challenge spot, and steps into the maze‌


Can you solve the Water Challenge? Find your way through the maze. Answer water questions along the way to guide you. Begin 1. Keep water buckets covered. True


2. Microorganisms in the water can cause illness and disease. True False 3. Pumped water is safer because it comes from deep in the ground. True False 4. Use water purification tablets to purify drinking water. True False 5. Use a water filter. True False 6. Mix 1 capful (15 ml) of bleach (such as Javel) in 4 liters of water to soak and sanitize fruits and vegetables for 10 to 20 minutes. Rinse well after soaking. True False 7. Use bleach water even on fruits with peels. Cutting through a dirty peel can spread bacteria through the clean fruit. True False 8. If you use knives or cutting surfaces with raw meats, fish, or chicken, clean these tools with soap and water before you use them on any other foods. True False

9. Only allow clean cups and clean hands to come in contact with your drinking and cooking water. True False

10. A strong boil, lasting even one minute, will make your drinking and cooking water safe. True False

11. Store water in a closed container that is regularly cleaned with detergent and bleach. True False

answers: all are true.



Ami finally finishes the maze and is awarded the Water Mask by a local healer.

I’m so honored to receive this from you.

Healers have been a part of Malian culture for thousands of years. They create medicines from local plants.

Next Ami sails to Dogon Country for the next challenge.

A crocodile! I heard they have the strongest bite of any animal in the world.


Again she reads the back of the map for instructions.

She finally arrives in Dogon Country where a mask dance is happening.

Look at that really tall mask! I read that some can be several meters tall.

Interesting. ..for this challenge I must answer hygiene questions, then find the answers in the form of symbols carved on a Dogon door.

Time for the next challenge...


Traditionally, carved wooden Dogon doors have had many uses: as actual closures for buildings, as presents given on special occasions, and as a way to show the occupation or status of the person inside.

Can you solve the Hygiene Challenge?

Read the hygiene questions below. The answers can be found in the symbol on the carved door at the right.

1. When are 5 times you absolutely MUST wash your hands with soap and water? Find 4 symbols that answer this question.

2. Hand washing reduces the risk of getting diarrhea by .....% Find one symbol that answers this question.

3. Always use this when you wash your hands. Find one symbol that answers this question.

4. What should you do before you share a dish or cup? Find one symbol that answers this question.

5. What should you do for cleanliness, good personal appearance, and and to prevent disease? Find one symbol that answers this question.

6. Unless stored in a refrigerator, this should be cooked and eaten the same day. Find one symbol that answers this question.

answers: 1. after using the toilet, before eating, after changing a diaper, before cooking, after touching an animal. 2. 50% 3. soap 4. wash them 5. bathe 6. meat



Back in the pirogue, she thinks about the final challenge.

Again, Ami is successful and receives the Hygiene Mask.

I now understand how safe water and good hygiene can keep you healthy and keep you from being malnourished.

Two challenges down, and one more to go. I can do this!


Timbuktu was founded in the 5th century. Over the centuries it became an important center for study of Islam with 180 Koranic schools. It was an important market place for the trading of books, salt, gold, cattle, and grain.

At last she arrives in fabled Timbuktu!

She checks the back of her map again to read directions for her Sanitation Challenge.

This may be a tough one! I must enter a room full of objects, and answer sanitation questions by finding items in the room.


Can you master the Sanitation Challenge?

1. This is the only place where you should go to the toilet‌ never on the ground.

2. every community needs a trash collection system or you'll see this unhealthy site.

3. Never throw trash in this place where you'll find pirogues.

4. Only throw garbage in this ‌not on the ground.

5. This is why latrines should always be covered.

6. This should be kept at least 20 meters from a latrine, and on higher ground.

answer: 1. Latrine 2. garbage pile 3. river 4. trash can 5. fly 6. well



Ami is successful once again, answering all the questions correctly. She is rewarded with the third and final mask, the Sanitation Mask.. And then someone calls her name….

Oh Ami!

Wait, who’s that? It sure doesn’t sound like Magic Malisa.



She turns around and sees a Malian desert elephant! And he speaks!

I’m a magical desert elephant, here to take you back to Sikoro.

Another talking magical animal! Will there be more?

Just wait and see. Hop on!


There are estimated to be fewer than 500 desert elephants left in Mali due to poaching. Most are in the Gourma region. In order to survive in desert conditions they have wider feet, longer legs and smaller bodies than other African bush elephants.

And with that Ami returns to Sikoro, soaring through the night sky on the back of the elephant.

Magic Malisa is waiting for here in SIkoro

Well done Ami!

Thanks Malisa! I learned so much about the importance of clean water, good hygiene and proper sanitation.



But your quest is not finished, Ami!

You must use the masks you’ve gathered on your quest, and fit each one into the special spots on the Sikoro portal. These are a set of huge wooden doors leading into the neighborhood.


Once at the portal, Ami quickly fits the Water, Hygiene and Sanitation masks into the special spots on the doors, and they creak open.

Stay on your guard, Ami.

Ami walks through the door and sees a beautiful Sikoro. She wonders if this is a healthy and safe Sikoro, free of malnutrition. She thinks so‌..until an odd sound begins.

Wait, what is that weird sound??



Oh, Ami…you missed an important “key” to solving the malnutrition problem!

Giant germ monsters… bacteria and viruses that cause illness and disease, fly through the sky and attack people.

I did? But i put in all three masks!

Think, Ami, Think! What’s missing?

Hmmmmm, to beat malnutrition we need to have clean water, proper sanitation, good hygiene and…..WAIT! We also need a HEALTHY DIET.

Ami removes the wooden banana in her lunch bag and quickly puts it into the door. How could I forget about a healthy diet?

That’s it! And I know exactly where the symbol is for that!


This time when she walks through the portal doors she sees a truly healthy Sikoro, free of malnutrition.

Spread the word Ami! You know the keys to beating malnutrition.


I will, Malisa!

Ami goes home, explaining the ways we can beat malnutrition to her parents and her friends.

And they tell their friends.

And those friends tell their friends and family...

‌.until everyone in Sikoro knows how to beat malnutrition.


You have to have clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

And you have to wash your hands with soap after visiting the toilet, before cooking, before eating, after touching animals, and after changing a baby’s diapers.

And always go to the toilet in a latrine, never on the ground.

And eat a healthy diet.

A healthy diet usually has a mixture of food with protein (for example, beans, peas, meat, fish or eggs), carbohydrates (such as maize, potatoes, cassava, rice and many other staple foods), vitamins (such as vegetables, fish, fruits or milk), and some fats or oils (such as cooking oil).


Never forget the keys to keeping our community free from malnutrition: clean water, proper sanitation, good hygiene, and of course a balanced, healthy diet!

If we all work together, we can beat malnutrition!


Profile for malihealth

Ami & the Challenges of Doom: Adventures in Conquering Malnutrition  

Written, illustrated, and edited by students from the American International School of Bamako and Bamako Public Schools. In collaboration w...

Ami & the Challenges of Doom: Adventures in Conquering Malnutrition  

Written, illustrated, and edited by students from the American International School of Bamako and Bamako Public Schools. In collaboration w...