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Papou Sissoko, Executive Director

Kamafily (Papou) Sissoko was born in Bamako, Mali, where his father worked for the UN as head of peacekeeping forces. As a boy of privilege, he became familiar with the poverty of Mali in a twist of fate. It would lead him to return to Mali after living many years in the United States.

When he was 8-years-old, Papou and his mother attended a funeral in rural Mali. Because they missed the one bus in the area, they embarked on long walk between two towns. Papou became thirsty. He and his mother stopped in two villages to look for water; but there was none.  Eventually, they met a young boy named Nu who led them to a third town many miles away. There, Nu gave Papou and his mother a drink of water.  Papou remembered this act of kindness and the incredible scarceness of water outside of the capital city of Bamako. 

The elder Sissoko’s work continued to influence Papou, as his father led UN delegations to Angola, Haiti and Congo. After receiving a civil engineering degree from ENI (école national ingénieur), Papou sought out the friendship of the now grown boy Nu, to thank him for his kindness as a child, and to see what had become of the villages in the area. The lack of resources had not changed. Now, Nu was next in line to become chief of his village.  Although Papou was leaving shortly to study in the US, he made a vow to return one day to return to help his friend Nu (thus, NuMali).

While earning a degree in computer engineering from Drexel University, Papou pursued his study of culinary arts that he had begun summers when he worked at his uncle’s restaurant in Paris. Between classes, Papou worked in Philadelphia as a pastry chef and then later as an institutional sous chef cooking for hundreds of people.

After graduation in 1999, his next production job took him to Indianapolis where he worked for PepsiCo as coordinator and production analyst for several facilities. In 2006, Papou left PepsiCo to open his own restaurant, Bistro de Paris, in Carmel, Indiana, which he closed in 2009 to return part-time to Mali.

In 2011, Papou’s father, Chief of National Security in Mali, died; but not before seeing his son co-founded a charity to obtain clean water for Mali, inspired by his father’s legacy to bring peace to their impoverished nation.

Presently, Papou, Co-Founder of NuMali, headquartered in Indianapolis and Bamako, Mali, where Papou lives much of the year as he oversees manufacturing and mining operations in his native hometown. By becoming part of Mali’s future development, Papou can tend to the unending work of seeking a sustainable economy, centered on clean water, for villages such as Nu’s.

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