SALT LAKE CITY — A struggling nonprofit in Salt Lake City faced an unexpected obstacle after thieves broke into the building and stole more than $4,000 worth of donations.
The people in Ouelessebougou, Mali, have a unique connection to Salt Lake City — their sister city — thanks to the Oulessebougou Alliance, but their efforts were thwarted by some greedy grinches.
“It’s our 35th anniversary this year, so our virtual auction is the start of that celebration,” said executive director Judy Hut.
Like many nonprofits, Ouelessebougou Alliance has faced some steep mountains in surviving the pandemic with a slump in donations.
“Every dollar counts,” said Hut. “We just need everything so we can do our health and education programs.”
Hut explained the nonprofit provides essential services for some of the poorest of the poor in Mali, Africa, focusing on their namesake, the small village of Ouelessebougou, seen in a video from 2016 when KSL TV traveled there with the charity.
“It’s not about just handing things to people and just giving them stuff and, you know, leaving,” said Hut. “It’s about training and educating and lifting them out of poverty.”
The organization struggled to lift itself up after being robbed of more than $4,000 worth of donations.
“Oh, it was devastating,” said Hut. “I mean, we have this event, this is our annual fundraiser.”
Thieves ransacked the office Friday night, zeroing in on prizes for the virtual auction. It was all wrapped up in baskets, ready to be picked up by the winners Saturday morning.
“Mostly just kind of everything here. They just kind of picked and they went shopping,” said Hut. “They pulled some jewelry and pulled a shoe.”
Hut suspected the thieves knew what they would find before they broke into the building.
“I think so, or they are just the luckiest people alive that they broke in that night,” she said.
Hut said they’ve had other small businesses step up to replace some of the stolen gifts they had already donated.
“Small restaurants like Provisions Restaurant or little stores like Dance Cranes, place that have also struggled this year, but they’re still being generous and their giving to us,” said Hut.
I love the people. They are so hard working and they are so deserving. They just live in circumstances that they can’t control.
–Judy Hut, executive director at Oulessebougou Alliance
It was that kind of giving that inspired Hut to keep moving forward in their efforts to lift the people of Mali.
“I love the people,” said Hut. “They are so hard working and they are so deserving. They just live in circumstances that they can’t control.”
Anyone that wants to learn more about Ouelessebougou’s mission or donate* to the cause can do so on its website.
*Disclaimer: KSL.com has not verified the accuracy of the information provided with respect to the account nor does KSL.com assure that the monies deposited will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit or donation you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.