The Gorge - Flash Bristow's Website
Annual Progress Report

Dear Miss Wilson,

I am sure you are eager to hear about the progress made by Sekou and his family. I'm sure that you have already glanced at the attached photos. Don't worry about the serious expressions on their faces. A photo is a very serious thing here - on the very few occasions their photos are taken, the villagers make a real effort to express their dignity.

I recently visited Sekou's family and spoke with his mother, Sadio.

Sekou's progress

First of all let us talk about Sekou. He is an active little boy whose favourite games include playing with cars and football. His mother tells me that Sekou says when he grows up he would like to be a driver. In this part of the world children grow up first and all must play a part in the family's 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 Adama and Moriba who are his best friends. He does not attend school because he is too young. 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 older siblings or neighbours.

Sekou is still not able to write to you himself but I am eager to write to you on his behalf.

Strengthening a friendship

Sekou is still not able to write his own letters. However we will encourage him to communicate with you in other ways, perhaps by sending you a drawing. In the meantime Modibo a community volunteer will be writing to you on behalf of the family who are looking forward to strengthening their friendship with you. It gives them a warm feeling to see that you have shown concern for them.

Sekou's Family

There are eight family members living together with Sekou. This might sound like very large family to you but this is usual in this part of the world.
Sadio, 32, who is Sekou's mother. At the moment she is working as a housewife
Ardiouma, 6, who is Sekou's brother.
Fatoumata, 12, who is Sekou's sister.
Sira, 8, who is Sekou's sister.
Samba, 62, who is Sekou's grandfather.
Foulematou, 50, who is Sekou's grandmother.
Issa, 24, who is Sekou's uncle. At the moment he is working as a peasant farmer.
Rokia, 16, who is Sekou's sister-in-law.

Sekou does not live with both his parents since his father has abandoned the family. At home the family speaks their local language, Malinke.

Sekou's health

Sadio told me that Sekou has been in good health during the past six months. This means that he was one of the fortunate ones as many children still suffer from diseases that could be prevented. If Sekou or any of his family is sick, they can go to the health post, a journey of about fifteen minutes.

Where Sekou and his family live

Sekou's family lives in a small house made of unfired mud bricks with a straw roof. The house is owned in partnership with relatives. While 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 relatives and neighbours for their needs. This creates a lower level of hygiene 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 an open community well that is less than 1km away. There is sufficient water during both rainy and dry seasons. The family does not treat their drinking water because it is safe to drink. This means that the drinking water is good, clean water.

Sekou's family uses an open fire to cook their meals and their main fuel is wood. Collecting firewood is usually the work of women and children and a very time consuming 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 work or do 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, playing local games and listening to the radio. Sitting together with friends and neighbours around their little radio and listening to the news and music is one of the greatest pleasures of their hard life.

Progress and acheivements

Like most poor communities, living conditions in Djidjan are difficult with a multitude of problems affecting children, their families and the entire community. Sekou and his family together with their friends and neighbours have worked hard over the year to address some of these problems. Participating in community meetings and sharing responsibility for carrying out projects has been important in developing the community's partnership with Plan.

All their efforts together with your valuable support have made the following projects possible, projects that will benefit the whole community either now or in the future.

During the past year, Plan constructed latrines at the local school. This will allow children access to toilets while at school, improve sanitations and prevent the spread of diseases.

Plan helped community communication volunteers to acquire relevant reading and writing skills in the local language. This has improved their participation in the sponsorship process by the timeliness and the better quality through the training of teachers in large group teaching. Furthermore, to improve school attendance rates, Plan has donated school supplies to all the students attending primary school in our program areas. For the security of the kids, instructors and equipment, Plan has constructed an enclosing wall around the community kindergarten.

To prevent the spread of diseases, a vaccination campaign was held in the village. All the children and young mothers received free immunisation through Plan and the local Ministry of Health staff.

To address the high infant and mother mortality and morbidity rates, Plan has financially and technically supported local health centres and NGOs for behaviour change campaigns in the Program Unit area. The community has thus got valuable knowledge on vaccination, nutrition, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, family planning and safe motherhood, the prevention and treatment of malaria, of acute respiratory infections and of diarrhoeic diseases.

In Mali female genital mutilation is a countrywide practice with a lot of drawbacks. In the community Plan supports IEC campaigns for behaviour change, counselling and care for victims of FGM. We also support advocacy and lobbying campaigns for the prevention of this harmful practice.

Plan sponsored a football cup between the schools of the program area to promote the physical and mental development of the students and the right of the child and to improve Plan awareness for the sustainability of our actions. A series of training sessions were organised on the Convention of the Rights of the Child to promote the child in the community.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading about the changes and improvements that have happened in Sekou's family and community over the last year. We thank you for your continued commitment and are looking forward to sending you more news next year.

Until then, Sekou and I send you our warmest greetings.

Marinfa Coulibaly, PLAN staff member.

This page last updated: 10 August 2004

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