OPHI Research Assistant Elise Klein has won a Vice-Chancellor’s Civic Award for her work with the Mali Initiative, which engages with local communities to implement projects that originate from the aspirations of community members and are driven by their agency.
Klein, a PhD candidate in Development Studies at the Oxford Department for International Development (ODID), co-founded the Mali Initiative in 2004. Since then the Initiative has implemented projects including schools, agricultural projects, community health centres, start-up funds for young social entrepreneurs, and micro-credit organisations for women. Since the conflict erupted in the north of Mali, the Mali Initiative has focused on providing humanitarian support in the M’bera refugee camp and other locations, where it has set up temporary schools for refugees.
The Mali Initiative describes itself as ‘a catalyst for change’, and states: ‘Our Mission is to ignite and enable the aspirations of local Malian visionaries and, through friendship and equal partnership, help them turn their dreams for their communities into reality.’
The Oxford University Vice-Chancellor’s Civic Awards are granted every year to students who show exceptional achievement in and commitment to creating positive social change. The Awards celebrate and recognise the efforts made by students to have a positive impact in their local and global community.
Klein, whose PhD is on conceptualisations of agency in Mali, will receive the award at Enceania, the annual ceremony at which Oxford University presents its honorary degrees.