Adama and Lassine: Age 16

Adama and Lassine were both born in 2002. These twins lost their father and experienced a difficult life with their mother. As is customary in Mali, the twins used to accompany their mother to the Grand Mosque and to the markets of Bamako to beg for food and money. Struggling to feed her children, Adama and Lassine's mother had to forgo her work of horticulture for the benefit of begging to secure even the most minimum living needs.

Due to their lifestyle, the children could not properly attend school and often missed classes to search for a way to feed themselves. Hence Adama and Lassine were held back in school and lost entire academic years.

Currently, Adama and Lassine are supported entirely by ACFA. Their school situation has been re-established, they are attending school and with the help of ACFA financed tutors. After they came to ACFA, the boys improved, moving up from the bottom 5% to the top 10% of their class in just three months. Today, Adama and Lassine are the first ACFA children to pass the rigorous national exam necessary to attend secondary school and both are doing outstanding work. Additionally they participate in basketball classes.

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Adama

Facts about Adama:

When I grow up, I want to be a basketball player.
My favorite song is: Oumou Sangoré
My favorite food is: The Tôt
My favorite things to do outside of school are: reading, sports and listen to music.
What do you like the best about yourself? I like my modesty
What is your biggest goal?: Being one of the top students in class
What is your favorite subject to study? Why?: My favorite school subject is science because I love scientific inventions

Facts about Lassine:

When I grow up, I want to be a journalist.
My favorite thing to do outside of school is:
playing basketball
My favorite song is: Derkeb-zbto – weeï soldat – Calibre 27 – Niggofama
My favorite book is: Harry Potter,
My favorite food is: Roasted chicken
What do you like the best about yourself? I like my kindness
What is your biggest goal for this year?: My biggest goal for this year is to pay attention in class and to learn.
What is your favorite subject to study? Why?: My favorite school subject is English because it’s the most important language in the world.

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Lassine


ASSANA (Alassane) AND FOUSSEYNI (Fousseni): Age 14

Alassane and Fousseni are twins who came to ACFA-Mali without any birth certificates. We think they were born around 2004. These twins lost their father and their mother, who is incapacitated, used to take them on the streets to beg for food and money to survive.

Alassane and Fousseni attended the first grade in 2009-2010, however due to lack of financial resources and time needed to study, they were both held back in school. Following this, ACFA had to re-register them in first grade. They are doing well in school today and are taking advantage of the tutor’s instruction as well as their basketball classes.  In school they have ranked as one of the top five in their respective classes for the past several years.

Fousseni and Alassane are both in 9th grade this year and they play in the junior basketball team of their school in Badalabougou.  Both are taking woodworking vocational training.

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Alassane

Facts about Alassane:

When I grow up, I want to be an engineer.
What are your favorite things to do outside of school? Playing basketball and learning new jobs
My favorite song is: Sidiki & Weei Soldat
My favorite book is: Harry Potter
My favorite food is: Roasted chicken

Facts about Fousseni:

When I grow up, I want to be a basketball player to get contracts in other countries.
What are your favorite things to do outside of school? Playing basketball, playing with friends who live in my neighborhood and having fun with my brothers and sisters from the house.
My favorite song is: Weei Soldat, 2bto King.
My favorite book is: Mamadou & Bineta Camoura – Laye l’enfant noir.
My favorite food is: Couscous & Thôt

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Fousseni


BILY AND FANTA: Age 13

Twins, Bily and Fanta, were born in 2005. Their father left the country for Guinea in 2006 and has not been in touch with the family since then, abandoning the mother and the twins. The family struggled to make ends meet and the mother reverted to begging on the street with the twins. Neither of the children had previously been in school. They are now enrolled in private school. In addition to their studies, the twins are taking Taekwondo classes and aspire to be gold medal winners one day.

Fanta and Billy are both in 6th grade this year. Billy has a blue belt In Taekwondo. He has won 2 medals – one silver in Taekwando and a gold medal in fencing. Fanta plays basketball and is doing vocational training in hair braiding.

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Bily

Facts about Bily:

When I grow up, I want to be a soldier to save my country.
What are your favorite things to do outside of school? Go to Taekwondo, fencing and play a little ball
My favorite song is: Sidiki & Weeï Soldat
My favorite book is: Horizons d’Afrique
My favorite food is: Roasted chicken

Facts about Fanta:

When I grow up, I want to be a border agent.
What are your favorite things to do outside of school? Play volleyball
My favorite song is: Oumou Sangaré
My favorite book is: Horizons d’Afrique
My favorite food is: Roasted chicken

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Fanta


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SALEh (Saley or Saleh): Age 13 

Saleh and Koro are brother and sister.  Saleh was born around 2005. He and his sister Koro both came to ACFA-Mali without any birth certificates. Their parents could not tell us for sure when they were born and so we had to estimate. Their father is an alcoholic and their mother is mentally ill. She is not reliable and used to abandon the children, unaware of the extent her acts had on her children.

Saleh and Koro have nine older brothers and sisters, none of whom have ever attended school. Upon their arrival to ACFA-Mali, Saleh and Koro were issued birth certificates and were both enrolled in school.

Today they are both thriving thanks to the support provided to them. In addition to school work, like all students, they receive tutoring services and are taking Taekwondo classes.  Saleh is currently in 6th grade. He is a blue belt in Taekwondo and won one medal in fencing.  He currently does vocational training in auto mechanics.

Facts about Saleh:

When I grow up, I want to be a soldier to save my country.
What are your favorite things to do outside of school? Be a big football player to get the Mali cup

My favorite food is: Roasted chicken
My favorite song is: Weei Soldat
My favorite book is: Horizons d’Afrique

 
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KOROTOUMOU (Koro): Age 14

Koro is the sister of Saleh. We estimate that Koro was born around 2004. Koro is receiving tutoring and is doing well in school. 

Koro is currently in 8th grade and thriving in sports. She is a red belt in Taekwondo and has won three gold medals, one silver and one bronze. She is currently training with the Mali National Team. She also earned one gold medal, one silver and one bronze in fencing for an amazing total of eight medals total.  Koro is taking vocational training in tailoring.

Facts about Koro:

When I grow up, I want to be a: News Anchor
What are your favorite things to do outside of school? Taekwondo, fencing and cleaning
My favorite song is: Tecna
My favorite book is: Vive les lettres
My favorite food is: Fish


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HADIDIATOU (KADIATOU): Age 12

Early on, Kadiatou lost her father and lived with her mother, who could not provide for Kadidiatou and her four siblings since she had no means of earning a living. Kadiatou came to ACFA in 2010.

Kadiatou is now in 7th grade this year and is a blue belt in Taekwondo.  

She has earned two gold medals and three silver medals in Taekwando and two gold medals in fencing.  She is taking classes in hair braiding.

Facts about Kadiatou:

When I grow up, I want to be a teacher or a doctor.
My favorite song is: Oumausakare
My favorite food is: Roasted chicken

What are your favorite things to do outside of school? I help Tantie Mariam prepare and clean kitchen utensils and do the laundry.
My favorite book is: Mamadou and Bineta     


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ASTAN (BASSAN): Age 12

Astan's father fled the family in Bamako for Sikasso.  For over three years the family received no information on the father, the bread winner’s, whereabouts.  The mother took Astan to the streets to beg for food and money near the Grand Mosque.

When she first came to ACFA in 2011, Astan was struggling academically but with some mentoring and tutoring from ACFA staff, she has been excelling both academically and in extra curricular activities. With courage and determination, she was ranked first in her class and was selected to the National Junior Taekwondo team.

Astan is in 6th grade this year. She is a blue belt in Taekwondo and is a cadet in the national team where she earned two gold medals and one silver medal. In fencing, she is just starting debutante having already earned her first gold medal and 2 silver ones.  In 2014, Astan won a silver medal in her respective age and weight category in Taekwondo.  She dreams of becoming a teacher when she grows up so that she can give back what she learns and help other children achieve quality education.  Astan also is doing hair braiding.

Facts about Astan:

When I grow up, I want to be a teacher.
My favorite song is: Aya nakamoura
My favorite food is: Cake

What are your favorite things to do outside of school? I sleep a little bit and then review my lessons
My favorite book is: Horizons d’afrique


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DIAKASSAN: Age 14

Born in 2004,  Diakassan came from a family where there was no bread winner as her father was unstable and abandoned the family.  None of the children had attended school.  After arriving at ACFA she began to excel both academically and in sports.

She is a red belt in Taekwondo and a junior in the national team. She won two gold medals, three silver ones and one bronze. In fencing she has won gold, silver and bronze medals. In 2018 she  qualified for the African Youth Games regional competition and won a bronze medal and a monetary award in fencing.

While Diakassan continues in her superb athletic performance, she has also excelled in her academic pursuits.  Diakassan  is now in the 7th grade.  For the first quarter of this school year (October through December 2018), Diakassan received the extraordinary overall  average grade of 16.  In a system of grades from 0-20 where a grade of 10 is average and top student usually achieve between 13-15, Diaskassan has truly excelled. 

Diakassan is doing vocational training in hair braiding.

Facts about Diakassan:

When I grow up, I want to be a scientist.
What are your favorite things to do outside of school? My favorite things to do outside of school is listening to music from “Dadju”, read “Vive les lettres” and practice sports like fencing & Taekwando
What do you like the best about yourself? I like my intelligence and my kindness

What is your biggest goal?: My biggest goal for this year is to be the top student all year
What is your favorite subject to study? Why?: My favorite school subject is science, because I am good at science and it’s easy for me


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AWA (HAWA): Age 12

Born in 2006, Awa lost her father and has two brothers and two sisters.  With the mother left alone with no means of earning a living, the mother reverted to selling things on the street, leaving the children unattended and neglected and they lost all academic credentials. Awa came to ACFA in 2011.

Awa is in 8th grade this year and is doing vocational training in hair braiding.

Facts about awa:

When I grow up, I want to be a journalist.
What are your favorite things to do outside of school? My favorite things are cleaning the utensils, do the laundry and help set up
My favorite song is: Aya Nakamoura
My favorite book is: Lecteur Vive les lettres
My favorite food is: Roasted chicken and salad


The School Year in Mali

The school year goes from October to June. In December there is a holiday break and in March there is another holiday break. For elementary school (1st to 6th grade) the children are graded every month and the average is taken at the end of the year to determine if the student will pass the grade or not. Grading is on a scale of 1 to 20, if the student achieves a grade of 10 or more he or she passes to the next grade. For secondary school (grades 7-9) the exams are administered every three months, in December, March, and June. Again, the average of the grades are taken at the end of the year to determine if the student will pass to the next grade except for grade 9 where the students take a national exam called DEF (diploma d'etude fondamentale), which two of our children passed last year. Upon graduation from 9th grade, the students move on to high school (grades 10-12), which is the same cycle for exams and breaks like high school and at the end of grade 12 they take the national exam BAC (Baccalaureat).

Board member Hamallah visited the children in Mali in 2018.

Meet some of them in the video below!