Africabougou (ABG) is an Italian NPO, which has been undertaking activities in the Rebublic of Mali, the Northwest Africa, since 2005. The organization, working together with the rural community and local authorities, has been undertaking construction and management of educational and public health infrastructure in different places in Yelekbougou, a rural community about 40km north of the capital Bamako.
Specifically, four community schools (in villages of N’Tyeani, Djinindjebougou, Koba and Fansira Coro) and a medical dispensary (N’gorofala village) were built. The construction of these facilities came along with other projects such as health education, reforestation, horticulture, micro credit and water supply. ABG has, in cooperation with Italian missionaries who have been active in the region for 40 years, provided assistance for construction of a small library for students and a center for disabled children.
Due to the military coup in 2012, the democratically elected government was overthrown. The Touareg rebellions and Islamic groups took control of the northern region of the country. Under the international pressure, an interim government was established to try to bring back legitimate democratic status. Considering that this country was experiencing internal tensions, which could develop into a civil war, conveying the Kaki Tree Project’s message, that of peace and hope, is most important. That was the reason why they applied for the Project.
A number of various activities already took place a few days before the ceremony. The plate to be set up beside the tree was made, strategies to protect the tree planted in the bush from animals were considered, and a hole and soil for planting were prepared, as well as a theater piece was rehearsed. A drawing and writing contest on the theme of peace among four schools in Kati was organized and the winners were chosen, and decoration and for children were prepared. All these works were made possible thanks to many people, students, teachers, craftsmen, volunteers and new friends. We all would like to thank for their enthusiasm and energy, and the atmosphere created on the day by their presence.
It was a lively tree-planting ceremony filled with about 400 children from the school in Kati, who participated in the drawing and writing contest held a few weeks earlier. The entire library was decorated with the children’s drawings. It was an opportunity for many children to get to know the library, thanks to the message of Mr. Paul, library director. He asked them to come to the building where the place of encounter and knowledge exchange. To leave an evidence that they were there and to share the message, each participant pressed a kaki leaf, fruit or a hand print, and contributed to a big kaki-tree-shaped work of art, which was hung at the entrance. During the theater performance of a group called the Amis de Kizito, all children fell into silence. They were surprised and lost for words when they heard a roaring sound of the atomic bomb. They cheered whey they saw pieces of kaki fruit were reproduced as the tree was healed thanks to the care of Mr. Ebinuma.
Then, they planted the tree. The children provided the tree with soil and water, and Dr. Ebinuma’s message was read out. They concluded the ceremony with awarding prizes to the contest winners. The younger school children was awarded colored pencils, and the older children were awarded the right of free access to the library for one year. This was a significant award strongly supported by the library committee, which thinks that peace can be built through culture as it destroys ignorance and intolerance. As a result, the contest winners already came to the library for the first time in the following week. We hope that the kaki tree grows strongly together with children in the Republic of Mali.