MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s been two years since a landslide at a park in St. Paul killed two boys on a field trip.
Ten-year-old Mohamed Fofana and 9-year-old Haysem Sani were fourth graders at an elementary school in St. Louis Park.
The accident happened at Lilydale Regional Park along the Mississippi River.
The boys and their classmates were searching for fossils when a waterlogged cliff collapsed. Fofana’s body was found the next day, buried under mud and rocks.
But we’ve learned his parents are now finding comfort in what is being built in his honor.
Fofana’s parents remember him as a boy with big dreams.
“Mohamed was very smart, he was a very kind kid,” his mother, Madosu, said.
Even though he died at the young age of 10, his dream of building a school in West Africa is coming true.
“That will keep Mohamed alive forever,” his father, Lancine, said. “That’s our goal.”
His parents say they took him to Guinea when he was 8 to see where his father grew up.
He was struck by the extreme poverty.
“He said, ‘Mommy, please give them money. They need food, they want to eat,” Madosu Fofana said. “When he saw the kids sitting in the street begging, it was very, very emotional for him.”
It was only after his death that his parents discovered just how much of an impression that trip had left.
“I found a book that he wrote, that when he grew up what he wanted to do in Africa,” his mother said, reading from the book: “I would build soccer fields for schools to play in.”
The Fofana family received a settlement from the city of St. Paul and the St. Louis Park school district.
They are using most of that money to build a school in Fofana’s memory.
“The best way to use [the money] was that school and keep at least 400 kids out of the street and put them in school,” his father said. “That was Mohamed’s dream.”
Lancine Fofana just returned from a month-long trip to Guinea to finalize the plans for the school and to witness the groundbreaking. It be at least a year before construction is complete.
A group of architects from the Twin Cities donated their time to design the building.
It will be the first school the rural area has ever had.
If you’d like to help pay for the books and supplies they’ll need, go to Fofana’s website.