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Lotto winner donates prize money to kids' dance classes in Mali

Words by Tess Becker

What’s the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery? A new car, a home, maybe an expensive new hobby? Instead, a North Carolina man decided to use his winnings to help teach dance to children in Mali.

The man, named Souleymane Sana, moved to the US from the West African country. He won a six-figure prize and is dedicating it to helping schoolchildren in his 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.”

Before his winnings, he started a group with the goal of preserving traditional Malian music and dance and planned to use his winnings to build classrooms and a center dedicated to teaching children to dance. The group is called Kono Gnaga.

“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.”

Charity check-in

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

American Civil Liberties Union. This is one of the largest civil liberty defense organizations in the US. Find out more and support them here

Human Rights Campaign. This is one of the largest equality-focused organizations in the US. Find out more
The Trevor Project. They focus on suicide prevention and mental health support for queer youth. Support them here.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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