We had a great, successful trip to Mali this month. Ten of us traveled from Kansas City and California to help at a primary school in the small village of Dagabo and at Dr. Oumar's Clinique Paix in the town of Oulessebougou. Ibrahima helped organize the mission from the Mali end and was our lead translator. His ability to understand meaning and nuance and not just words across multiple languages and cultures is astounding. I haven't seen the final numbers but know that Tammy and I saw in the range of 320 patients and did about 30 surgeries. We all learned a lot and had experiences that we bring back to share and to help make the world a little bit smaller and more peaceful.
I was able to have a couple of meetings with Ibrahima during the week about Grace Private School in Koro. Although I wasn't able to visit the school (remember that Koro is at least 16 hours by bus to the east of Bamako), he did leave me with lots of pictures and several short movies. I was able to get a better feel for where the school stands and what the future may hold. Communication with the outside world is so poor out of Koro. Texting is about our only means of communication throughout the year so it was nice to be able to have full conversations. As I have time to meet with the other board members and brainstorm and dream we will give more information about exciting plans for the school.
Some of us had put together supplies from Ibrahima's wish list and I was able to bring these things to him. It was enough to fill a suitcase. Four new soccer balls, big maps, lots of pens, clothes, hard candy, and printer ink cartridges. He told me that there are only two color printers in all of Koro. One is at the World Vision office and the other is at Grace Private School. He said that people in town are amazed when they see color copies with new up-to-date information. The six black and white and two color cartridges will be enough to last a year. Solar panels provide the power for the computer and printer at the school.
Thank you all for your interest, your prayers, and your contributions towards the spiritual and academic education of these precious children.
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014 to all of you!!!! We wish you all the best in this year; a year of peace, joy, health, success, prosperity in all aspect and deep satisfaction for you and your families, and all those who are dear to you.
As we write you in the midst of Sahel climate, we give thanks to God for sustaining us through the year and for your interest and valued support throughout the past years and particularly in 2013.
Thank you so much for all you did by partnering with us in the work at Grace School.
This year God has entrusted us 60 students in total, which is below the number we expected. We did some research about why after 3 years the school is not attracting enough students to make a profit even though people talk highly about the good quality of the teaching at Grace. Here are the three main points at the conclusion.
1. Because of the unrest in the country, many people have totally or partially lost their income as businesses are idling. So people reduce their family budget by sending their kids to the free public schools even though they don’t like the quality there.
2. The arrival of the 80 % government subsidized catholic school in Koro.
3. The lack of regular class rooms for elementary school at Grace.
We were very surprised by the fact that none mentioned the Christian aspect of the school, rather they all appreciate the fear of God that is taught at Grace School.
To relieve these facts, we decided to reduce the tuition and reduce the salaries of the teachers and to lower all operating expenses.
We are grateful for all the teachers as they understand what the school is facing and accept the sacrifice.
The challenge is so big and we are not able to face it only by ourselves.
Mainly the help for education is directed to the public system while it keeps stumbling down from bad to worse every day.
I want to introduce you a brave student of Grace: Mohamed Traoré tenderly named Vieux, who joined us after the tragic loss of his mother Rebecca POUDIOUGO in September;
Vieux’s dad was fatally injured in an artisanal gold mine accident three years ago in Sikasso obliging this 9 year old little boy to depend only on his mother Rebecca, who was providing for her family from her critical income by doing door to door laundries.
In September Mother Rebecca passed away after one month at the American Christian humanitarian Hospital in Koutiala. Vieux’s stature changed to a helpless orphan who none clams to be family with.
As Mother Rebecca was from the same family with my mother, one of my uncles and my mother were deeply concerned about Vieux’s future. They brought his story in to our house to confer about how to help him.
I was so touched by his all together long and painful story that my wife and I asked them if we can get him to stay with us in our house to give him family, education and anything we can for his good. Our proposal was quickly accepted and then Vieux joined us making our family grow to 15 members. We are grateful for the change we can see in Vieux’s life from the time he arrived to Grace School to today. He has become a happy boy and the third noisiest in our house just after me and Cathérine my first daughter. Vieux is 12 and will turn 13 soon and attends 7th grade.
Please thank God with us for:
1. The safety and health of students and teachers and administration during the year 2013;
2. All the students we presently have at Grace;
3. All the good news we hear about our former students from their high school teachers.
4. All our supporters including you who read this letter.
5. The easy integration of students in difficult situation like Ousmane, Vieux and Abdoul.
6. The acquisition of the land for Grace School.
Please pray with us for:
1. Godly guidance and protection through this Year 2014 for all teachers and students and particularly for the administration.
2. True transformation of all the students by the grace and love of God to because servant, wall restorers and justice makers.
3. Providence to build classrooms on the new land of Grace school.
4. Quick improvement of the economic and financial situation in Mali.
Thank you and God bless you!!!
“You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”