New High School!
Hello friends and supporters,
New School Year!
Hello dear friends,
The well known cycle of the school year has started here on the 3rd of October. This year we are starting the school year with 627 students from Kindergarten through 9th grade. It is so nice to see the kids coming back to school safe without anyone wounded or missing in an environment of war. Your prayers are answered.
In September I participated in the summit of Christian schools in Ouagadougou. To get there from Koro, I went through a large area from Kiri to Ouahigouya (mostly in Burkina) controlled by the jihadists. We passed by them while going and coming. We greeted them from far away and they replied with greetings. Their misery is noticeable from far away. I can tell they are tired of this situation but don’t know how to withdraw from it. We can only pray for them. I am sure your prayers for us and for them will make all the difference and bring the desired peace in this one of the most disadvantaged areas in the world.
We are very happy to see new faces, Some of them are very tight faces. One of them is Djibril, who had never spent an hour in school before he enrolled this year in first grade. His parents did all they could but he was not willing to stay in the school when they brought him. His dad was a bit hard on him.
I asked to leave him with me for a moment. He is my friend now and he said he wants to be like me. And I convinced him that the way to become like me is to study in the classroom. I went to sit with him for some time in the class. Now he is willing to stay in school after his dad drops him. He has started to write. He is an adorable little kid, very smart and talks a lot with me.
Please keep praying that all those who like Djibril are in a different world at school, a world they don't like very much so far.
Grace High School is ready and we are waiting for the government to send us the students. Many students have considered our high school as their first choice which is a great sign for us. Students' parents who were claiming a high school are eager to see their kids continuing in our School.
We have many teachers applying for teaching jobs in our new high school, but only a few of them are Christians. The challenge we are facing is how to run a Christian high school with more than 80% non-Christian teachers. Please pray for us to have strong and numerous Christian teachers. Please pray for our current teachers to be fully engaged in this ministry. And that they fully understand the vision of making disciples through this ministry.
This year one of our teachers, Mr Jérémy Togo, left us at the beginning of the school year. It was very difficult for us. Mr Togo got married and his wife is a teacher in Timbuktu. He has been offered a teaching job in the same school. Our consolation is that the school he is going to serve in is a Christian school with which we are collaborating to promote Christian education in Mali. To replace Mr Togo we got one of my former students Mr Ousmane Niangaly. A very good teacher, patient and bold.
This year we have doubled all our classes from 1st to 6th grade. Then we had to hire three more teachers to cover the need.
In this process Mme Esther Sangara, Mr Jacques Dara and Mr Elizé Sagara became members of our teaching team. Please pray for them for the Lord to give them strength and wisdom to impact the lives of the students with love and compassion while they teach.
We have large classes that are required to split but we don't have spare rooms. We should have built three classrooms during the past months but because of the embargo we had stopped the construction project. After the embargo, the prices are better but not as good as they used to be. We have resumed construction and want to continue even though the price is high. We count on the providence of God and your generosity to support the huge cost of the construction and the school.
The participation fees of the parents is very little compared to the real cost of the education we give to the kids. The miracle of this education ministry resides in your indefatigable support. We are privileged to be in this ministry with you.
In terms of security there is a big change. The enemy has spread in the country. They are weaker but make a lot of noise. They are more infiltrated in the population. That's why we are very careful even in the town of Koro. They keep laying road mines and threatening the churches from places to places.
Please keep praying for security and political stability.
Thank you very much for all you do to make this ministry possible
God bless you.
Your friend Ibrahima and all Grace School.
Another Successful Year
Greetings from Koro,
There is a lot of news to share.
The DEF results have appeared and like last year all of our 31 students succeeded on the test. This means they are eligible to attend high school. Thank you for your prayers for them. Please keep praying for God to reveal Himself to the 26 students who did know Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
Most of the teachers are in Bamako for training to help them learn to integrate Bible teaching in school.
On their way, they stopped many times for their safety. God was good to them. Their bus was not attacked but on the same day, on the same road, six cars were attacked, robbed and taken away, one person was killed, and eight others were kidnapped the same day on the same road. One of the eight kidnapped is a good friend of mine. He hosted us when Dr Brandon was visiting Mali last year and we were avoiding the hotels for safety.
The good news is that all the eight kidnapped are released at the time I am writing this note. God has answered the prayers of His people. We are sure that the end of all this is very near. Please keep praying. The devil always shows nasty face as he knows that he is defeated in the open field.
We want to share our faith with the students, expose them to the living word of God without transforming the school to a Bible institute.
Teachers need technique and wisdom for this task. This year we need to hire more teachers as we have more classrooms. Please pray that God guides us and the applicants for a clear process for good results.
While some of our teachers are in training, one (Mme Guirou Nèma Douyon ) had twin baby boys. Please thank God for this smooth delivery. The babies and Nèma are all doing very well. The dad is a prison guard in Tombouctou but he has arrived here in Koro.
Our high school file was theoretically on the table of the ministry of education since August 5th but she has never seen it. I discovered it yesterday with the help of a friend of a friend. One secretary at the office had settled it elsewhere. I don't know if it was deliberately or by mistake, but I suppose the second one. The ministry knows it now and the signature may not last long any more. At the same time the inspection will be soon and we want to be inspected and published by the government as a valuable High school before mid-October.
Please thank God for the building. In four months we have built six classrooms, and nine restrooms with no accidents so far.
The political and economical atmosphere is not good in our country. In many areas of the country schools, administrations and any symbol of the state are absent while some forms of Sharia laws are being employed. In some of those areas, church is present but not openly persecuted.
Towns like Koro are where many people bring their kids for school when they have no consistent income to pay tuition or to lodge their kids.
We are happy the school is growing, but the challenge and responsibilities grow with it. With your prayers and financial support we can make it by the grace of God.
How blessed we are to witness the greatness of God to this humble ministry for His Kingdom here in Koro.
None of those amazing results could happen without you being on our side. Therefore we are grateful to you for your partnership with us in this education ministry in a difficult place like Koro.
God bless you.
Ibrahima, family and Grace School staff.
Finally Finishing Up the School Year
No one has escaped the impact of COVID-19. Yet populations like Koro are always more vulnerable in challenging times, be there days of military or civil war, economic depression, political unrest, lack of water and poor harvest in the context of subsistence farming, or pandemic. To all this is added the military coup followed by series of condemnation and different levels of embargo
Even though the few cases of COVID in Koro recovered well, except for a teacher who already had very critical health situation before 2019, there are many cases of malaria with complications making many victims here in Koro.
Thank you for your prayers and support making a big difference in our daily lives. It has been over two weeks since last hearing that someone is killed in the area of Koro because of conflict.
It is a miracle how great the school is in the middle of this disaster. We are affected but it could be way worse. Mary, our nurse is very busy treating malaria since we resumed. Many parents (not our students’ parents) kept their sick kids at home because of the fear of the medical costs. And unfortunately some of those fears end up with mourning.
We are still in the 2019-2020 school year. It will end in October and the school year 2020-2021 will begin in mid-November.
Some of our students came back to us with very strange habits. It looks like they have been surrounded with bad friends during these five months of idling hands and head.
The high school is still not operational as the government hasn't sent any students and the students sent by parents were not enough. Please pray that in the coming school year we get enough students to start the high school. For now we don't have dormitory in the school. Please pray that the campus program can be started soon. It will be an effective solution for the students who do not have their parents in Koro.
Our garden suffered from lack of water and now is suffering from too much rain. It washed away the plants. We have sesame, beans, sweet corn, okra etc. We are planning to have tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, potatoes and various melons. We are excited that it will be a great place of experimentation for our students and for us as it becomes a source of fresh food. Please pray for a good, creative and efficient gardening program for the students and the teachers.
We paused the three classes construction project because of the rain and too much wind.
When I look back a year, I see that we have done huge progress.
We look with gratitude at all the good work we have accomplished together to expand the Kingdom of the Lord.
God bless you and be with you as we keep playing our part in this ministry we do together.
Your friend Ibrahima and all the Grace School team in Koro.
We hope you are all doing well despite what the world is passing through.
Have you ever got into a cave tunnel without knowing how long is the tunnel and what is in the cave nor what the output looks like? Well this is the impression I have of this school year 2019-2020!
Every year we have had the routine of slowly passing through 3 school terms to the national exams. The only unknown was how good the students will do at the exam. Late March came with new government policies because of the fear of the virus that was not yet in Mali. They then started by closing the schools for 3 weeks and prohibiting from gathering more than 50 people. Our hope was to open schools after these 3 weeks but now the government is coming up with a decision to keep schools close for a month again.
Terrorist had cut off the road from Burkina Faso to Koro isolating us from the world, and now to this isolation is added the international restriction for health. The two small bridges between Sevaré and Koro are pounded down by the Islamist terrorists under the nose of the international peacekeeping army in Mali without any reaction.
I come to believe that our isolation is somehow the way God is using to protect us from this disease.
As our students are staying home, the teachers and administration of Grace School decided to get one full day of training on viruses and specifically on coronavirus so that we can teach preventive attitudes to our students and their parents in their house. Our training went well and our visit to the families was fantastic. It was great to see our students doing different things in life. Some are playing at home while others are helping their parents in their daily works like gardening, mechanic, carpentry etc.
We are considering the possibility to start gardening as we ignore when class will resume. Our garden will continue even after we resume classes as it will provide job with reliable income to many who arrived in Koro because of the war but have nothing to do to provide daily bread for family. The economy here is literally nonexistent.
We will have to wait for suitable time for the workers to safely come to Koro and bring cement and irons for construction. We do have enough sand to start laying bricks. The high school construction project is progressing very slowly. The deep wells at both the elementary and the high school sites have become oasis for the thirsty population of Koro. Water is critically lacking here.
Please pray that the war to stop in Koro and that all the killings will stop. The 2nd county mayor of Dinagourou (in the county of Koro) and his staff were killed and their burial will be tomorrow morning in Koro. Please keep praying for our safety and the safety of all the country.
This Easter is very different from what we used to have. Every family celebrates on his own at home with the door closed behind. It sounds very original though. :). We await to see how this will go.
We wish you a very Happy Easter and that this celebration of the accomplished work of Christ on the Cross, His death and resurrection will bring health and peace to all the world.
We pray for your safety as you pray for ours, in this time of worldwide turbulence.
God bless you.
Your friend Ibrahima and family.