North Carolina man’s lottery winnings will go to teach dance to children in Mali | Mali

A man who moved to the US from Mali and won a six-figure lottery prize plans to invest in supporting schoolchildren in his war-torn home country.

“This was my dream,” Souleymane Sana said of being in a position to help schoolchildren in Mali, according to lottery administrators. “That was one of the main reasons I bought that ticket. [It] was to be able to keep helping them.”

Sana, 39, lives in New Bern, North Carolina, and works as a dance instructor. He went to a convenience store and bought a North Carolina Education Lottery scratch-off ticket. It won him $100,000, reduced to $71,259 after state and federal taxes, officials said.

Many winners of lottery prizes of that size talk about treating themselves, paying bills or saving.

But when Sana went to lottery headquarters to collect his winnings, he spoke about how he had started a group dedicated to preserving traditional Malian music and dance and planned to use his winnings to build classrooms and a center dedicated to teaching children dance.

“I love to dance, and I want to teach the children in Mali to love it, too,” Sana said in a statement issued by lottery officials. “If you talk about culture and you talk about education, they both go together.

“I’m going to keep doing my best to help build more … for the children in Mali. That is the thing that makes me really happy.

“My dream is just becoming true little by little and I hope it will keep going.”

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Mali has been destabilized since 2012, when a military uprising overthrew the president, Amadou Toumani Touré. Militants seized on the resulting power vacuum, mounting an insurgency capitalizing on ethnic grievances, poor governance, corruption and poverty.

A United Nations report recently gave an hour-by-hour account of a five-day military operation in March 2022 in which 500 people were killed. Most were unarmed civilians, killed by Malian troops and mercenaries believed to be from the Wagner group, which is run by an ally of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

The operation focused on by the UN report is the worst single atrocity associated with Wagner outside Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Wagner’s fighters have been leading Russia’s push to seize the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which Ukraine’s defenses have fiercely contested, leading to heavy casualties.

According to North Carolina officials, money from scratch-off lottery ticket sales raises $2.5m daily for the state education system. Last year, officials said, the county where Sana lives received nearly $6m from lottery ticket sales.

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