PAD works with those who are sometimes called ‘street children’ but 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’.
If any child doesn’t show up for a few days, a member of staff, sometimes Oumar Coulibaly, Kader’s assistant, will tour the city looking for him, and making enquiries. Sometimes he will go with them to their families, to see what the problem is, and try to get it resolved. After the course has finished, children receive their certificates and are encouraged to progress. Sometimes they feel able to returned to school. Others return to their families in the villages. One bought his own moped, with the proceeds from his Bogolan art, and another opened his own restaurant! Some children just continue turning up to help at the centre, and for food.
One of the children from in the early days is known as Little Mohamed. Kader first met Mohamed when he was six years old. He was a courageous and intelligent boy, attentive, curious, and when Kader approached him to ask what had brought him to live on the streets he 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 it’s 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 am on the streets”
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. 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. 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 Kader and PAD. I salute Kader and his friends and everyone who has helped PAD 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 PAD to accompany children to back to their families. Thanks to PAD I got my Certificate of Basic Education, which is the hope of every child. I’m continuing on the path that gave us belief in ourselves and brought back the love from our parents that we had lost.”
One of the others from the same group, Hadji Sow, said: “I met Kader at the same time as Mohamed when we were both small. We had this lucky meeting and as we got to know Kader, his courage, his dynamism, his knowledge and his great patience encouraged us to work with him. He has been able to transform me so that I became someone. 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. They went to all the places where children in trouble hang out. He has a very charismatic personality, he loves children and it’s 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”
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