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I am happy to greet you and would like to welcome you to PLAN MALI on behalf of your new sponsored child. My name is Marinfa and I work as a PLAN staff member in Djidjan, where Sekou and his family have lived for as long as they can remember. One of my responsibilities is facilitating communications between sponsors and the families in Sekou's community. I recently visited the family and talked with Sadio, Sekou's mother. Now I would like to introduce all the family members to you.


Introducing Sekou

First of all let us talk about Sekou. I am sure that you will have already got to know him a little by looking at the photograph which is attached. He is an active little boy whose favourite games include football. His mother tells me that Sekou always says when he is older he would like to be a goverment worker. In this part of the world children grow up fast and they must play a part in the family progress and survival. Although they still have time to play they must also help with the daily chores. Sekou helps with small errands.

Sekou spends most of his time with Mahamadou and Fode who are his best friends. He doesnt attend school due to being too young for school still. Children who are too young to go to school spend the day around the homestead, playing with other small children and being looked after by elder siblings or neighbours.

Sekou is not old enough to write to you himself yet, however Hawa a community volunteer is eager to write to you on his behalf. They are keen to learn more about you, your family and the country in which you live. Although children in this community are very shy about writing to someone in a different country we will encourage them to communicate with you in their own special way, perhaps through a small drawing. It is also very exciting for them to receive a letter or a photograph from a friend abroad and so I hope you can find the time to send Sekou and his family a message occasionally. I have seen the wide smiles which this can bring to a child's face!

Introducing Sekou's family

There are 6 family members living together with Sekou. I would like to introduce them to you.

Sadio (30) who is Sekou's mother. She never attended school. At the moment she is working as a housewife.
Lassana (37) who is Sekou's father. He never attended school. At the moment he is working as a peasant farmer.
Ardiouma (4) who is Sekou's brother. He is not in school because of being too young for school still.
Soumaila (0) who is Sekou's brother. He is not in school because of being too young for school still. [Sadly this brother has since died.]
Fatoumata (10) who is Sekou's sister. She is currently in primary school.
Sira (6) who is Sekou's brother. He is not in school because of being too young for school still.

At home the family speaks together in their local language Malinke, as they discuss the day's activities.

Sekou and his family's health

Sadio told me that all family members have been in good health during the past 6 months. For Sekou that means he was one of the fortunate ones as still many children suffer from diseases which could be prevented. [The youngest brothers] both have completed basic vaccinations to protect them against the most common childhood diseases. If Sekou or any of his family are sick they can go to the health centre or the hospital, a journey of about 45 minutes.

Where Sekou and his family live

Sekou's family live in a small house made of unfired mud bricks with a wood roof. The house is owned by the male head of the house without a legal title. Whilst showing me their home, Sadio told me that the house is in a fair condition. Sekou's family does not have their own latrine and have to use a shared latrine with neighbours and relatives for their needs. This creates a lower level of hygene and increases the incidence of disease particularly amongst the children.

In many areas of PLAN's work a lack of access to clean safe drinking water all year round is a real problem and can cause an increase in common water borne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera. Throughout the year Sekou's family get their water from a borehole with a handpump which is less than 1km away. There is sufficient water during both rainy and dry seasons. The family does not treat their drinking water because of a lack of awareness. This means the water is not safe for them to drink.

Sekou's family use an open fire to cook their daily meals and their main fuel is wood. Collecting firewood is usually the work of women and children and a very timeconsuming task. For lighting the house the family uses kerosene lamps. Sadio says this ends the day early as the lack of light makes it difficult to do work or household chores in the evening. Sekou's family, like their friends and neighbours, have a very small income and it is a struggle to be able to meet their basic needs. However the families in the Djidjan community have a rich social life. During their spare time, Sekou's family loves talking with friends, telling and listening to stories, and listening to radio. Sitting together with friends and neighbours around their little radio and listening to the news and music is one of the great pleasures of their hard life.

My message to you

I hope you have enjoyed reading about Sekou and his family. The following pages will give you more information about their community and the way of life there. Hopefully this will give you a better idea of the problems they face, their expectations and their positive attitude. Life is not easy and the economic situation can make it even harder. However PLAN will be working with Sekou's family and all families within Djidjan to identify their basic needs which may be health, education, housing or income. Each individual will play a role and contribute what they can in terms of manual labour, local materials, technical expertise or financial contributions to ensure a brighter future for Sekou and other children like him.

We hope that your friendship with Sekou will be an unforgettable experience and that it will give you the opportunity to learn more about another culture far away. We look forward to writing to you again next year to let you know of the achievements and progress which Sekou, his family and the Djidjan community have made.

Until then we would like to say goodbye and thank you.

Marinfa Coulibaly
PLAN International


This page last updated: 19 July 2004



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