A Team Vocation

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Kader Keita has been committed to working with disadvantaged children for many years but ‘The Association’ was set up in October 2004, and authorized by the Malian Ministry of the Interior on 3rd December 2004.

Kader is a talented and well know Malian artist, graduate of the National Institute of Arts Bamako, specializes in ‘bogalon’ an ancient and traditional Malian art form, using a mud from the river Niger that dyes treated fabric.

Kader is an exceptional man of quiet dignity, deep compassion and great inner strength. He is however significantly disabled, in a way not unlike how polio can affect people. ‘I am not handicapped either in mind or heart’ he says, ‘I have never felt like that’. ‘I am grateful for having been brought up in Bamako, the Capital of Mali, where people with physical disabilities live with their families and are not considered a burden’.

He works principally with children who live on the streets in Bamako, the capital of Mali. There are a great many ‘street children’. (This is not a term that Kader appreciates, as he says that ‘streets don’t have children, people do’. ‘They are not the responsibility of the street, they are our responsibility’.)

There are government run centres ‘Aemo Centres’ for homeless children, in Bamako (an acromym for ‘association of education in open areas’). The problem with these centres is that the government think that they are a solution to the problems of homeless children although they provide somewhere to sleep. But these centres do not provide training to help the children get out of the situation that has lead them to being homeless and are dangerous places to sleep in for vulnerable children.

This is why the Association is better able to help the children. It has a well constructed and monitored approach to dealing with the issues that lead them to being homeless. It works at restoring their self-esteem to enable integration with the community, and develop their skills by which they may subsequently earn some money and possibly become self-supporting.

At weekends, whether there is a course running or not, lots of children turn up at the Association for food, and the team always do their best to feed them.

Including children that he has assisted before the Association itself was established, he has help several hundred children. Others can verify this and careful records are kept.