Interview with Diallo Mariam Camara, a pioneer of the Sikasso Orphanage

Interview with Diallo Mariam Camara, a pioneer of the Sikasso Orphanage

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Created on 2 June 2009, the CAPEMA orphanage in Sikasso is a social institution responsible for thehosting, maintenance, education and accompaniment of children in difficult situations. These are abandoned, orphaned children, children with destitute parents and / or mothers with severe mental illness or disability such as AIDS or others.

The center takes care of the nutritional, psycho-affective, health care, and clothing of these children. It also takes care of domestic workers and young mothers in difficult situations. CAPEMA (Reception Center for the Protection, Education of Children in Difficult Circumstances and Housekeepers) now has 100 boarders divided into 4 groups and aims to better take care of the little ones.

For this, these children are placed by age group in the dormitories and are divided into groups. Thus, children from 1 day to 6 months are in group A, from 8 months to 18 months, group B, from 19 months to 24 months, group C and those from 2 years and older are in group D. It is also created a nursery that meets the standards prescribed by the Ministry of Social Development and Solidarity.

The Center’s Director, Diallo Mariam Camara, gave The Women’s Torch an update on the current situation of its structure.

The Women’s Torch: How was the CAPEMA orphanage created in Sikasso?

Mrs. Diallo Mariam Camara: I am Malian, mother of children and I lived in Gabon. I am very sensitive to the suffering of children and have seen so much in Mali and Gabon. When I came back to my hometown, Sikasso, I decided to help my sisters, mothers of families who live in difficult situations with children they cannot care for. In 2009 I created this Center with my own funds. Today, both domestic and foreign partners support me.

How many boarders does the orphanage currently have?

Today we have 100 orphans and 14 salaried staff. From 2009 to the present day, we have welcomed more than 500 children from 0 to 18 years old. Some are proposed for adoption. But we accompany others so that they find an adoptive parent or a craft to exercise.

Do you place orphans in families?

Yes. We often ask individuals of goodwill to take some children during the holidays or even to adopt them. Sometimes families accept children for two or three days. The goal is to make people understand that the orphanage is a gateway for children and that the family is the best place for their fulfillment. The application for adoption of the child is made to the police who sends it to the mayor and is recorded by the social development and justice services. It is after all these formalities that the child is handed over to his or her adoptive parents.

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Much has been done, yet much remains to be done. What are your expectations today?

There is still so much to do to improve the care of children. We work to be able to respect the specifications imposed by the Ministry of Social Development and Solidarity. For the health component, we were able to maintain the balance of prescriptions thanks to the support of people of goodwill, humanitarian NGOs and certain companies like Orange Mali who also help us in the maintenance of the building.

What are you referring to when you talk about the maintenance of the building?

We need a building that respects all safety conditions and offers more conviviality for the well-being of children. What is decent for the human-beings? We currently have a dormitory of 15 babies. And the new arrivals join the others directly. However, this is not normal as we should have an observation room for these children. We should also have a refectory for toddlers.
The nursery already exists but we want to increase its capacities.

What arrangements are in place to enable you receive donations?

Contributions can be deposited to CAPEMA Sikasso or the Banque de Development du Mali (BDM), the Ministry of Social Development and other structures that support us.
We will never thank enough the good will which is already manifested. I am grateful and proud of what they are doing for the survival of the children and especially the orphans of Sikasso. The government has not yet awarded us a medal, but we hope that this will happen soon, for our example is cited in all the grandiose ceremonies for orphans and housekeepers in difficulty in the Sikasso region.

Interview by BoubacarCissé in Sikasso, Mali