Warm greetings from Koro,
Grace School is known in Koro as the school of water, or the school of tall building, or the school of Ten Commandments. These three things make it different from the others for those who know very little about academic performance.
As many did not go to school, it is funny how they prefer naming places or groups of people according to something they see. In the same manner here Christians are called the Alleluia people or the people of the father of Nema (Grace in our language) because the McKinney (first Christian missionary from the US to here in Mopti) had a daughter named Grace. And people heard them shouting Alleluia!!!!
As we always have said in the newsletters, there is an increasing water crisis in Koro. Many families were getting their water from the well by the school since 2015 when we started the construction. Now days, more than a quarter of the town depends on the school’s well for their water. Many are openly expressing their gratitude to all those who made this school possible.
This period is also favorable to fire in houses because of the heat, the drought and the wind. A family hangar caught fire but teachers and construction workers from the school immediately turned into courageous fire fighters and overcame the fire in just a few minutes.
We thank the Lord for the improvement of Abel (school nurse) who had a motorcycle accident a few days ago. He was referred to Sevaré and later to Bamako for advanced medical care. Please thanks the Lord for the good results on the CT scan and treatments and pray that he will be quickly ready to come back to Koro to take care of the students.
Roads are very bad here, provoking many accidents. We know you are praying for us.
The second term is done and students did their second term evaluation.
Because of the water we provide for Koro, we get many visits from the local authorities including the county Mayor, the city Mayor, the water and hygiene department etc. The city Mayor gave instructions to the electricity company to give us electricity. They did in the end allow us to connect the school to the grid through a family.
The maximum Amperes we can use is limited to 5A while our water pump takes 3.8. It makes that we can't use fans or lights while the pump runs.
We still have a way to go for suitable electricity at the school. We are applying for more Amperes, up to 15.
The construction of the third floor is up to the covering process.
Please pray for Mali and West Africa in general. In Mali today there are at least 3 different sources of threat in terms of security. But again we are more than confident in Our God, for He never fails.
We thank you for being part of this great work of life saving and Kingdom enlarging.
God bless you.
Hello from Koro,
We hope your first month of 2017 was great.
Our year is starting well here. We start the year with thanksgiving for the visit of Americans Brandon Pomeroy and Johnson who don’t see obstacles when it comes to visiting and helping the less fortunate. They only see the needy hand outstretched and faded kid’s faces.
Their visit here is a renewing blessing to us like rain every year.
Although the best we have here in Koro is way less than anything Americans can call comfort they came down braving mountains and valley.
I remember the astonishing exclamation of a lady, asking: "Are there still Toubabou "White men" on this land? What a long time since I meet one!!!"
Many students are still expressing their sorrow for missing Brandon and Kay because of the holiday.
The girls at the school have never been prouder than after Kay Johnson talked to them. And female teacher Néma and Rachel have again shared with those who missed Kay's teaching on AFRIPad. It is a big relief on them as they worry about how to properly handle their body change.
Many students despite the holiday came along to meet them.
The building of the third floor is going well. The construction has started and it is hard work to take everything up by hand.
Please pray for the workers so that they are safe and sound during all this building process.
We are expecting the iron for construction this week. It gives us a special excitement to see how things are going now.
The Ten Commandments are on the wall of Grace school. The students and parents like and appreciate them very much.We hope the commandments will be finally written on the heart of every single student and teacher, convincing them of sin and justice by the power of the Holly Spirit.
Thank you so much for partnering with us for this fight against ignorance, beside some of the most disadvantaged kids in the world.
God bless you,
Your friend Ibrahima
Once girls are about twelve years old the school attendance rate in Mali and other developing countries begins to drop dramatically. There are several reasons for this, but an important one is that girls stay home during their monthly menses. With no pads or underwear it’s just a big embarrassing mess. So they remain home and fall further behind in school.
A company in Uganda has developed the AFRIpad. It’s a reusable pad that will last up to a year. By rotating three pads throughout the day, washing and drying in between use, girls are able to stay clean and in class.
Medical Missions Foundation has been providing pads during yearly mission trips to Uganda and accompanying them with kits that consist of three pairs of underwear, a washcloth and a bar of soap. The product and the education has been a great success there.
In October Ibrahima carried fifty AFRIpad packages back to Koro. And with the help of Tandi Toone and a great group of donors and shoppers from St Luke’s Hospital operating room a duffel bag was filled with fifty kits, which I carried to Grace School last week.
Kay Johnston, a recently retired ICU nurse from North Kansas City Hospital traveled with me to Koro. We met with Abel Kodio, the new school nurse. We explained the concept and he was optimistic and enthusiastic.
The next day Kay, Abel, a female teacher, and an English translator met with the middle school girls. They talked for over an hour and the discussion went great. The girls understood and were interested in trying the pads. They asked appropriate questions and good information was shared about hygiene and health.
Not everyone was there due to the New Year’s holiday. So the girls that were present will help Abel and the female teachers as they teach the rest of the girls about AFRIpads next week.
This is a wonderful project and one that really speaks to the intersection of health and education. It’s not an exaggeration to say that there is nothing more important to the future of Uganda than the education of women. AFRIpads and the kits are something that we hope to continue to supply and educate about long term. And we’ll be on the look out for other ways to aid these talented, hopeful girls.
At this season of Christmas we have more than many reasons to say BIG THANKS to God and to you.
When we look at our journey together for this year, we clearly see that we have accomplished tremendous things by the grace of God. So much has been done including:
On top of this non exhaustive list, God has been very good to us by:
Despite the dust it is generating, the paving road project is welcomed with great gratitude.
Since 1890 the road of Ouahigua –Koro-Mopti is known as a road of fish. The Niger River provided much fish that was exported through Koro to Burkina Faso. Some time in between 1967 and 1989 this road was one of the 4 most important import-export road for our landlocked country. But again it stayed unpaved till this year. I looked at this project as too big for me to be praying for, but some time I did while going through the rough and pain passengers are submitted to. The Lord hears our unexpressed prayers, our grooming. Your prayers for us made something changed and the road is getting paved!!! It reminds me of the promise in Ezekiel 49:11; “I will make road on all my mountains. . . “
We have seen and are grateful for the great improve in Koro these few years even though the remaining path to development is long way to go.
We appreciate and are thankful for your partnership with us in the year 2016 and are highly looking forward to your renewed support this coming year 2017. Please help us continue to bring bright and life saving education to kids among the most disadvantaged ones in the world. Happy New Year 2017!!!
Hello from Koro,
Time goes so fast when many graces are adding on Grace School and things are lining up for a good school year.
First Grace for Grace School is: On the first day of the school the drilling machine came down to drill the well in schoolyard. We got enough water for the students and even for our neighboring houses.
The news spread and many have heard around Koro that I brought a well drilling Machine from United States. People come to ask the how they can get a drilled well in their village. This was just imagined by those people not because of bad motivation, just because they are starving for water.
This year the water level is already very low. There was not good enough rain. Many wells have started to go dry ready. It is giving us a clear picture of what a blessing this drilled well will be to our school and our neighborhood. Many are already seeking our friendship to share with them this precious liquid in the very near future as they come in need.
Second Grace for Grace School is; The second story is finished enough for the 4th and 5th graders to start courses in those classrooms. The going up and down of the students looks like the angelic traffic on Jacob’s ladder in the book of Genesis.
The classes are not yet painted and electrical wirings are not yet done, the upper restrooms are not yet ready but everyone here appreciates the work and wants to bring their kids here. We will resume with the construction on the days students are not in class. The new location is very attractive and the students at the old mud brick construction envy their younger fellow students.
Third Grace for Grace School is; A school nurse is a completely a new and unbelievable grace for Grace School in Koro. No parent had imagined that their kids’ first health care could be a possible option at this start up Christian School. So many students are coming to see Abel the school nurse that it recalls me the long queue of patients during the life saving trips of Medical Missions Foundation in Mali.
It has turned into a fashion to see a nurse. What struck me is that most of the time the kids are tested positive for Malaria or even complicated malaria or typhoid. Minor cuts and wounds are not enough worries for the students to come see the nurse unless we urge them.
Many parents therefore did not understand or believe what we are telling them we will do for the kids.
Unlike the other year, this year because of all this information, we scheduled a parents meeting to clearly explain the health education program and the multiple family visits the teachers and nurse will be doing during the school year.
This time so many parents came to the meeting that we were ashamed by the lack of space in the 75.3 sq. yard classroom. The class room had not enough light and air to allow extra-long parents meeting. The nice fans and bulbs are not powered by electricity yet. They still stand for decoration till we get electricity in the building. We finally started praising God for the good number of parents who could not come at the meeting. In the past, many parents were just indifferent to invitation for parents meeting.
The meeting was great. We could share with each other our preoccupations, satisfaction, visions, dreams, expectation, worries and gratitude. Next time parents meeting will be held outside under the tree and a tent that will be set there just for the circumstance.
Fourth Grace for Grace School is; We got very good new teachers please meet them:
Salimata Togo, a Biology and chemistry teacher,
Nema Douyon, elementary school teacher;
Levi Kodio, an education science bachelor graduated teacher of French History and geography
Fifth Grace for Grace School is: The availability of a teacher to assist me at teaching at the public high school. His name is Allaye Poudiougo a great Physics and Chemistry teacher. His assistance will allow me to spend more time at Grace school and will hopefully allow a good and smooth transition when I leave the public school.
Please thank God for the different graces he has granted us that I have listed above
We still need some more grace for more students at the middle school, we have 30 students for the 3 classes.
God bless you
Friends of Grace Missions,
I can't believe!!! It is already a week that we had this event and yet I still didn't say thanks for it to the friends who made it such a good evening.
Here are the little things I wrote:
It was the best fund raising event I have ever attended.
Two years ago I was impressed by how churches, friends, and families were devoted to the first fund raising event Grace Mission was organizing.
This year I was thrilled and impressed by the quick growth of the friend circle including some coming from as far as Iowa and Texas. All have prioritized this event to all their multiple occupations and rest.
What a blessing, I take this as a real grace to me and to the ministry I am involved in, back in Koro.
It was a vibrant and tremendous display of love and an answer to a call of union in helping educate some of the neediest students in the world from whom you may never get a direct return back.
I was impressed again by not only the quality and numbers of attendees but their bright generosity and devotion to the cause of education in Mali.
I surely enjoyed the individual talking as I answered questions and discovered the interests of my friends as they express their concern about security in Mali and looked for ways to put their fingers print in this educational ministry there.
Mark Lowrey trio music was a perfect background sound to give a particular freedom to my voice to speak and my struggles to pronounce words good enough to be understood by my interlocutors.
I appreciate Brandon's management of my individual talking as I felt I would like to talk to each one of the friends there for the whole night.
I am again sorry to not be able to address personal and direct thanks to every single one there for their friendship and their partnership for this successful event.
I know for sure that I have many friends in America and that this country is full of God fearing and generous people.
There are no ways I can pay you back for your good deeds, but my God can.
I am waiting on His faithfulness and mercy to enrich you more and more to keep up with the good work.
Thank you again and God bless you.
Your friend Ibrahima.
Greetings from Koro,
In Mali, June is the month of Exams. This year’s DEF exam for 9th graders was organized with such an anxiety that I lost many kilos.
Like an Exodus scene of interceding Moses team on the hill while fighting team of Joshua and the army in the valley, teachers and supporters (you) were praying, while students were taking their DEF exams. Many prayers were said on the benefit of our students. DEF was held from the 6th to the 9th of June. Thank you for your fervent prayers.
By hearing students’ appreciation of the exams, it gives me hope for acceptable results. Even though I personally reserve judgment until we see the results.
In our worries for preparing the DEF we postponed Students Day until after the exam. And just before the DEF, the academy (local authority of education) changed the dates of term for the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at the very day of our students feast. We were again obliged to postpone our annually feast of celebrating students.
Students did not at all appreciate that we are now moving to the very end of school year before we can celebrate their day. We still hope to have the party on the 29th of this month.
Lack of water in the city: As usual the lack of water increases when we approach the raining season. The shallow water well dried out. Every day we witness the spectacle of a long queue of donkey carts waiting their turn to get drinking water to bring to the family. Many times I look with questioning heart at this situation as in my own family we depend on those jugs of water on donkey carts. We all need this precious liquid.
Just one rain made a huge difference: As all blessings come from heaven, a rain of 36 mm has made a great difference by the help of filters and water sanitizing tablets. Please pray for reliable running water system in Koro. A worker at the church building reported to me that for a full day of an opened water tap he got only 1.5 liter of water, while showing me in a transparent jug the water in question. Construction is in a state of covering and all is ready waiting for more rain to finish work. Please pray for the rain.
A quick and busy school year that will finish in 2 weeks: This school year felt so short to me that I am surprised we hare done with the school year. It is like we did not get enough time for things we had on plan.
We are making an incredible difference for students that are enrolled since their first years of school. We face real challenge as we try to reeducate those who have done their elementary schools at the public schools with very little control. The parents expect miracles but we are sometime overwhelmed by the work it requires to make those kids ready for the next class.
We know how you pray for us and we appreciate it very much. I don’t see how we could handle some of those students if it was not result of your prayers.
The new building is attracting more students for next year. We are excited that we will soon finish with the second three classrooms. We can then welcome a good number of students.
Thank you again for all what you do for education in Mali, we acknowledge your supports and are thankful.
God bless you,
Your friend, Ibrahima
Greetings from Koro!
Many things happened during this last month.
I like to teach our students the story of Joseph and his brother in Egypt. I always learn something when I teach. When Joseph makes a trick to keep Benjamin and treats him well, there is mourning on Jacob’s side because he did not know that his second loved son was in his first loved son’s powerful, carrying and loving hands. At the end of the story they all end up in Egypt. This story gives me a picture of us when we mourn at a temporally loss of one dear to us. The only difference is that we know how our story will end, while Jacob did not know it. The death of loved ones is painful at first sight but factually is a subject of joy in Christ. This past month we did witness the departure of friends, families, supporting ones, all very dear to us. Please let’s find our consolation in the Master God, for He is Love.
The GBLK, a group of student that read the bible in weekly basis in Koro, held a student’s retreat at the Grace School building. It was a happy day. We are thankful for the heart-opened Teachers meeting. The teachers all devoted themselves to the same goal: the need to synchronize for better results.
The second term exam was good and students have worked well. At this speed most of them should have no problem for DEF exam. Teachers and students are actively preparing for the last term exam by the end of May and the DEF exam on Jun 6th. Please pray for good result this time. Last year was a nightmare.
GRACE STUDENTS DAY 2016 is planned for Jun 10th after the DEF is done. The teachers meeting pointed to this event as something that can distract the students from their DEF preparation.
Construction is still on. We give priority to the families around us for taking their drinking water, then we use the remaining water at the construction. Therefore the speed is dictated by how much water is available at the very day. The technician that came to give us technical instruction on the work, spent few days with us. He then followed Dr. Brandon’s path visiting the mountains and cultural sites in the Dogon Country. He appreciated it and was very amazed by these wonders.
In previous years at this time the water crisis was causing many intestinal or diarrheic diseases to the kids, but this year we haven’t recorded those cases.
In January Dr. Brandon treated the students against worms. I did not imagine that this quick and one time treatment could have such a prolonged impact on the kids’ health. We again thank him and all those who made this life saving trip possible.
Together we have made a big move toward our goal of good education in this disadvantaged part of the world. We thank you for your partnership, God bless you.
Greetings from Koro,
It is tempting for me to follow around the masons at the building project rather than force my mind to put words together to describe what is happening at the school. I am not a good writer . . .
Days pass while I go back and forth between workers to make sure the technical instructions are respected, so that we end up with a solid and reliable long lasting school building.
We hope you had a very happy Easter, and that it was a time to remember the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. Freedom costs and it costs much!!! The Easter holiday allowed us to start building the second floor of the school. In just two weeks much is done toward three more classrooms. We are so grateful for that. Easter was celebrated with joy and happiness. We had Easter camp and many youth activities in which many of our students were highly involved.
During this dry period of the year huge destructive fires are very common in Koro. In the middle of a recent day very dark and heavy smog changed the clear view in the environment by the school in construction. Masons, technicians, workmen ran to help the family overcome a blazing fire in the grass hut in front of their living quarters. There was very little chance of success in fighting this fire if the construction team was not there with such a large quantity of water. It was a great relief to the family. Two powerless kids were in the house while the door was on fire. Their mother was outside and couldn’t help and their dad was away. This fire could have happened to us when we were in the grass walled classrooms. It is such a blessing that we are now out of this hazardous situation, that we are freed from these risks.
We always thank you for your support that has such direct and indirect lifesaving impacts. Thank you for praying for the water crisis here. It is a miracle that we did not stop the work in two weeks because of water. While city construction projects starve, at Grace we have water from a relatively shallow well to continue the building. It is a miracle!!!! Some families get drinking water from us. We would like to continue sharing with them as long as they have the need and we have the water.
We are grateful and thankful for your partnership, which allows us to do all we are doing in this education work.
God bless you.
That's Kadidia on the far left.
Many of you may remember that Grace student Kadidia has dreams of becoming a journalist. Well, we decided to provide a taste of that dream but having her interview one of the middle school teachers. Mr. Podiougo teaches 8th grade math. Here is her report:
Kadidia: Hello Mr. Poudiougo. I am Miss Kadidiatou Konaté, a student at private school Grace Private School here in Koro. Would you please answer some questions?
Mr. PODIOUGO: Yes, with pleasure!
Kadidia: How do you see the level of achievement of the middle school students at Grace?
Mr. PODIOUGO: I personally find that the level is generally low.
Kadidia: How do you explain, sir, this low level? Shouldn’t private schools be better than public?
Mr. POUDIOUGO: They should be better but they cannot be when they don’t have a good base. Indeed many come here from all over to succeed, but they don’t have the basic training (good study habits and knowledge from cycle 1)
Kadidia Why do these students fail to catch up to where they need to be?
Mr. PODIOUGO: Many of the students are accustomed to having fun and not working hard in class. So it's difficult for them to suddenly try harder.
Kadidia: What responsibility do you think the teachers have in this struggle to learn and succeed?
Mr. PODIOUGO: As a teacher it hurts to see a lack of ambition in our students. Our responsibility is to support those who engage in this good fight against mediocrity.
Kadidia: Do you think that parents have a role in this problem?
Mr. PODIOUGO: Of course!!! Their role is even more crucial. The education of a child is the first role of parents. The state and the schools are only facilitators and partners for education.
Kadidia: What are the concrete roles of parents for children’s education?
Mr. PODIOUGO: Parents should look after their children at home. Each parent must provide a way for the child to study. They should ensure that the child does homework at home, budgets their time, and is up to date on all courses.
Kadidia: What is your last word for this struggle to help the students succeed?
Mr. PODIOUGO: The ball is in the court of the students. Whatever the parents or teachers want, if the student does not turn in their work, there will not be satisfactory results. With a valiant heart nothing is impossible and God will certainly bless the efforts of each child if she or he is obedient and hardworking!
Kadidia: Thank you Mr. PODIOUGO for your kind answers to my questions.
“You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”