Hear Her Story: Diakassan

This is a story about Diakassan.

Diakassan is one of the success stories of the ACFA program in Mali. Since arriving at ACFA, Diakassan has excelled in both her studies and her extra curriculum activities. Like so many other children in Mali, Diakassan's family could not provide her with basic human needs such as education, proper nutrition, and health care due to extreme poverty. Many young girls like Diakassan are forced to quit school due to financial constraints. When Diakassan came to ACFA, she barely had two meals a day and was not attending school since there was no one to pay for her fees. In poverty stricken families where help is needed, girls are often the first ones withdrawn from school and reduced to child labor, making them extremely vulnerable to exploitation. They may be coerced into unsafe labor practices where they are often forced to work long hours under dangerous conditions in exchange for food. Some are sent away from home, exposing them to stigma and stress. ACFA gave Diakassan the opportunity to attend school and engage in sports programs.

Since coming to live at ACFA, Diakassan has excelled in her studies (earning outstanding grades) as well as her Taekwondo practice (earning 5 medals in competition to date). Thanks to the support of ACFA and her performance in martial arts, Diakassan earned a spot with the national team. Without ACFA, Diakassan would have been sent by her impoverished parents to work or to beg for sustenance.  ACFA has provided Diakassan a safe, comfortable place to live and she now has a future that has been re-written and is filled with hope. Diakassan is particularly happy that all of her major worries have been resolved since joining ACFA, particularly when thousands of little girls just like her are still homeless and uneducated. ACFA’s education, and recreation programs have provided Diakassan with a valuable foundation for bridging the gap from probable street life to formal education, helping her to regain her self-esteem and allowing her to have dreams about her future.


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Teresa Jones