Adama and Lassine: Age 16
Adama and Lassine, born in 2002, these twins lost their father and had experienced a difficult life with their mother. As it 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.
Because of the begging, 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, they have improved, and have moved 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 attend secondary school and both are doing outstanding work. Additionally they participate in basketball classes.
SALEH: Age 13 and Koro: Age 14
Saleh and Koro are brother and sister. Koro was born around 2004 and Saleh around 2005. They 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 9 (nine) older brothers and sisters, none of whom have ever attended school. Upon their arrival to ACFA-Mali, Saleh and Koro have been issued birth certificates and have both since been 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 tutor services and are taking Taekwondo classes. Koro dreams of becoming a news anchor and is already ranked first in her class of 100 and has earned many gold medals in Taekwondo. She is currently training with the Mali National Team.
ALASSANE AND FOUSSENI: Age 14
Alassane and Fousseni are twins who also 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 and 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 the basketball classes. In school they have ranked as one of the top five (5) in their respective classes for the past several years.
BILY AND FANTA: Age 13
Twins, Bily and Fanta, were born in 2005. Their father left the country for Guinee 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 their mother reverted to begging on the street with the twins. Neither of the children had previously been in school and are now enrolled in private school and are performing exceptionally well. Additionally, they are taking Taekwondo classes and aspire to be Gold Medal Winners one day.
KADIATOU: Age 12
Early on, Kadiatou lost her father and was living with her mother, who could not provide for her and her four other children since she had no means of earning a living.
Astan: Age 12
Astan also known as Bassan is an orphan who used to live with her mom on the streets of Bamako near the Grand Mosque. She was found there by another organization called Center for Listening and Guidance (CAOE) which focus on providing temporary shelters and providing guidance to kids in the streets. After their initial assessment of Bassan, they determined that she was extremely vulnerable and needed some permanent shelter immediately. Her mom was forced to beg in the streets to feed her and she never knew her father. The center referred Bassan to ACFA so that she can have a permanent shelter and a chance to have an education.
When Astan first came to ACFA Bassan was struggling academically but with some mentoring and tutoring from ACFA staff, she has been excelling both academically and in extra curriculum activities.
DIAKASSAN: Age 14
Diakassan came from a family where there was no bread winner for the family as her father was unstable, and he abandoned the family. None of the children had attended school. Today, Diakassan is a rising star both at school and in Taekwando, having earned a spot with the national team.
The highlight of the 2018 summer was Diakassan qualifying for the regional fencing competition which was held in Algeria and coming home with a bronze medal and a monetary award.
HAWA: Age 12
Hawa lost her father and has two brothers and three sisters. Hawa’s mother was left alone with no means of earning a living and reverted to selling things on the street, leaving the children unattended and neglected and they lost all academic credentials.
The School Year in Mali
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) 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 child receives a score of 10 or more he or she will pass to the next grade. For secondary school (grades 7-9) the exams are administered every three months, in December, Mar, and June. Again the average of each student’s grades is taken at the end of the year to determine if the student will pass to the next grades except for grade 9 where the students take a national exam called DEF (diploma d'etude fondamentale), which two of ACFA’s children passed last year. Upon graduation from 9th grade, the students proceed to high school (grades 10-12), during which the same cycle for exams and breaks occurs just like the high school. Finally, upon the completion of grade 12, the students take the national exam BAC (Baccalaureat).