We first met Mohamed when he was six and a half years old.
He was a courageous and intelligent boy, attentive, curious, and it was his curiosity that led me to approach him to ask what desires had brought him to live on the streets.
Mohamed replied that he had a lot of family difficulties and a lot of other things that he couldn’t explain. “But I feel OK away from the house; I don’t get beaten and I have my freedom – except there are times fear finds a place in my heart - the violence of people in our area, and often its not easy to find enough to eat, and when you fall ill there’s nobody around – we don’t get a lot out of life. That’s why I was in the streets, often with the others – and the fact that I met you Kader, meant that my life changed and took a good direction. I know how to practice some of the arts and many other things – it was even possible to learn to read and write a bit!”
Little by little Mohamed got to like the arts of bogolan, painting, theatre and making marionettes. And as time went by he took some reading and writing lessons with Kader and his friends – but his level wasn’t very advanced.
“There were 11 of us children and we used to go and find Kader and his friends in the Association that Kader belonged to. It was there that I had the courage to work with Kader and take what he offered me. He treated me like his son, taught me things and gave me advice. I had practical classes in the afternoon and reading in the mornings – but Kader didn’t have a lot of resources, but he had some good friends who knew his work and helped him buy materials from time to time. This really encouraged me to continue with bogolan and learning to read and write and today I can honestly say that I’ve earned my living mainly through this.”
“I was really lucky to have been befriended by the President of the Association, Anga Miri Sini Na and his partners. I salute Kader and his friends and everyone who has helped the Association to be here today, especially his friends from England because it is their money that has paid for me to go to school and for the association to accompany children to back to their families. Thanks to the Association I got my Certificate of Basic Education, which is the hope of every child. So I’m continuing on the path that gave us belief in ourselves and brought back the love from our parents that we had lost.
I am called Hadji Sow
I met Kader at the same time as Mohamed when we were both small. We had this lucky meeting, but at the beginning it was difficult to give our trust to this man who doesn’t seem to flinch in any situation and gives moral and financial support to his entourage.
His courage and his dynamism and his know-how encourage us to work with him. His great patience means that he has been able to transform me so that I became someone. In spite of his disability he does everything possible so that children in difficulties (street children) can succeed. But Kader doesn’t appreciate us using those words because he says that 'streets don’t have children, so find something else to say…' I learned to do bogolan with him and his friends when he was still a student at the National Institute of Arts in Bamako. They went to all the places where children in trouble hang out. He has a very charismatic personality, he’s really intelligent and he loves children and its rare to find a communicator like him. His art is really therapeutic.
I was lucky enough to leave the streets thanks to Kader and his friends. I did my training with money from Mali Development Group, taught by Kader and another friend, Karim. At the end of the training, I had a project in mind – to do trading as a business. I continued making bogolan and at the same time I was selling telephone prepay cards. I’m still doing this and I’m independent. I can’t thank Kader enough and his colleagues Basidy Oumar, Souleymane Koumba, Neisa, Yussouf Polyaba the Mali Development Group. I also want to thank Sarah Castle who invited Kader to England and helped him open up other doors there. And to finish I salute the good path taken by Susan Upton who is a good friend of Kader. I say the good path because she was the key to all these wonderful people around Kader and the Association Pensons a demain (Anga Miri Sini Na). May God give them all long lives and the chance to realise the dream of building a centre for the children.
Adji Sow – Business man