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A first: a digital work visit between Minister Kaag & AMPA in Mali

In order to remain connected to local developments in Mali, especially regarding the impact of COVID-19, the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Madame Sigrid Kaag, paid a digital work visit to the Malian Association for People with Albinism (AMPA), a Voice partner based in Bamako. And technology cooperated – albeit at times a bit shaky!

Hosted at Oxfam Novib’s offices in The Hague with an online connection to Agoratoire’s office in Bamako, both sides were eager to exchange -in whatever shape or form – and in compliance with local COVID-19 guidelines.

Here is a small compilation – as seen from both sides!

In The Hague with Minister Kaag, in the middle, with Edwin Huizing, Director Hivos on the left and Jeroen Kelderhuis, head of civil society and education on the right. Physical distancing in place.
And the set-up on the other side in Bamako, Mali : the offices of another Voice partner, Agoratoire! Here you see Dutch Ambassador to Mali, Jolke Oppewal talking
Aminata Traore, founder and president of AMPA, talking about how COVID-19 has exacerbated the level of vulnerability for people with albinism. Insufficient access to information and the skin centre now being transformed into a COVID-19 centre, were just a few examples.
With Minister Kaag listening and engaging attentively, asking what the level of coordination was between the various mechanisms and programmes in order for people with albinism to be included.
Aichatou Coulibaly, a member of AMPA, shared her experiences with accessing education – a fundamental right in Mali- but made difficult for people with albinism due to not able to see the whiteboard and bullying from others (“they change seats; if my fellow pupils have a choice”). She did this in the form of a slam or word poetry, a powerful and accessible tool for awareness-raising and expression.
Here is small excerpt of the slam from Aichatou Coulibaly, a longer version is available via this link

And Madame Keita, another member of AMPA, shared a slam on the impact of COVID-19 on them as an organisation and individuals. Their projects had to be temporarily halted and later transformed into more awareness-raising on COVID-19 for the albino community – desperately needed. Plus they found a creative way to generate income – local mask-making.

“Because between the curfew and the lockdown…
Our projects have been confined
And we, in the smoke
We can no longer see the right path…….”

And the best was saved for last: a photo with the Dutch Ambassador with AMPA members, including the winner of the Ms and Mr Albinos contest 2018 Aminata Traore (on the right).

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