Greetings from Koro!
Thank you for your prayers. We have acknowledged that you are all praying for us.
Now is the season for the crops to come home. Many families go to their farms to harvest and take home on donkey carts everything they have been harvesting during the day. Tradition here recommends in this season, giving in secret some crops to those who haven’t been able to farm because of sickness or to the widows or orphans. Recently the government has taken this tradition to name the month of October, “the Month of Solidarity” to pay visits to the elders and some disadvantaged families in the city of Bamako.
In a situation of fear and suspicion from everywhere and everyone, what we had heard from so far is getting very near to us after deadly cases of Ebola in Mali these days. So many daily practices and cultural behaviors that we share including drinking from the same cup, the communal city or village wells, friendly hand shake greetings, the chaotic overloaded public transportation, visiting patients, very disorganized and short handed health centers are all making it difficult to think of strict health preventions against this frightening deadly disease. In Mali Bamako is everywhere, in the sense of everyone goes there all of the time and every town depends somehow on Bamako for main business. So far everyone is Ebola free in Koro. We are teaching safe practices and we are hoping to intensify it because of the emergency these times.
On November 7th the school was highly shaken by the falling down of one student, Mariam Marico a 9th grader, during class hours. The faith of all students and teachers has never been that challenged. I was in the high school. Rachel called for emergency, asking me to come right now. Students and teachers gathered around Mariam Mariko to pray and call divine healing on her. Everyone student, Christian or not, at the school prayed loud in the name of Jesus Christ. Students urged the pastor to be called. With phone call we asked the local clinic to come and see the student and take her to the clinic. Many tests and analyses have shown that she suffers from heart disease. She stayed 4 days at the clinic and now she is doing better and is back to school. According to her parents she had this disease for many years now and used to fall down that way.
To request an equal treatment with teachers in the cities and advancement of the teachers who haven’t been upgraded since their enrollment from 2006, the local public school teachers went on strike for 72 hours and many courses were boycotted. The situation has calmed down now.
Students have many times complained because many fail their exams. The result for last year was alarming in the public high school of Koro as shown in this table:
Those failures have many explanations including poor elementary and middle school studies, overcrowded classes sizes, lack of suitable place to stay in Koro during their high school. Most of the students have no light to read at night and books to read.
By the help of God we can count only two Grace former students among those who failed. Most of our former students are in the science classes where only the best were accepted. I could never be prouder of them. Let’s keep them in our prayers.
Recently there is a popular practice of sending the kids to Quran schools. For each kid sent to the Quran schools the parents will get 5kg of sugar during Ramadan, fasting month of the Muslim once a year. This seducing method is working well because of the poverty and blinding ignorance. Indeed 1kg of sugar costs 500 F cfa and this is about $1 US. In conclusion the lives of those children are sacrificed because of a gift of $5 a year.
With a local Christian Organization named AEDM we had three nights campaign in some villages around Koro, to promote sending kids to school. The projector is the key as we project videos to teach the villagers about the benefit of schooling their kids.
Bible reading and prayers are well appreciated both by parents and students. We are thinking of changing the Bible version we are using now because of many questions the students ask as they read through. There is a simpler version, easier for beginners to understand, like the Good News version.
Please know that you all are real life saving support to us and that knowing that we have your support strengthens us for the challenges we face.
Thank you and God bless you!