Greetings from Koro!
It is Tabaski season so everything had to pause; even the negotiation of peace in northern Mali did not make an exception. The Tabaski season impacts every aspect of life. School starting was postponed one week. One thing is most important - get your lamb for the Tabaski !!! Bamako streets were jammed by sheep. The means don’t matter: buy, borrow, win a lottery or in the extreme case, even steal; all that seems to matter is to get the lamb. One lamb to honor the family’s devotion to the Muslim religion, for the family to look like the others the whole year. In some families, the skin of the animal is kept and used as a prayer mat. Tradition is to imitate Abraham in offering a sacrifice to God.
(You may read more about Tabaski here. It is the biggest festival every year in Mali. The date changes depending on the lunar calendar: )
Tabaski info link
School is starting very slowly due to the fact that people are coming from Tabaski feast and you hear the refrain “There is no more money to face other expenses after Tabaski” when they are asked to buy uniforms or pay tuition.
We have started this school year with 78 students including 28 newcomers so far and we are hoping for more as people see the new changes and improvements we plan to make.
My second week in Koro is ending. So many things still need to be done when I look at my “Made in U.S.A to do list”- a list that I had made during my six week stay while thinking of the work I want to get done here in very short term; however I thank God for the little I was able to do by His grace.
My first activities have been to finish repairing the benches; remaking the 3 grass walled classes that we will use for first, second and third grades; test, interview and hire some new teachers; and time tables for the teachers and students; parents and teachers meeting; exploring possibility of buying adjacent land to the land we have etc…
We had the first teachers meeting which allowed us to debate openly some changes including: extra student care to help the challenged students, the uniform requirement from 1st of November; teacher uniforms and the Grace Student Day preparation. The increase in salary was well appreciated. In return of the praise we gave to the teachers for good work during the past year, the teachers on return openly congratulated the administration for faithfully paying them.
The idea of text books for all students was not believed but welcomed with a laugh as Sara did when hearing prophesy on the birth of a child at her age; to say it short this is believed “unbelievable!!!!!!” This doubt is easily understandable because none of us, present at the meeting have had textbooks in all subjects as a student.
Please thank God for the students He has untrusted us for this School Year and pray that we have a good and successful school year.
Pray for wisdom and knowledge for the teachers to share with the students.
Thank you for reading this!!
God bless you!!!
“You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”