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Sekou in the snow
Sekou in the snow
Sekou at St. Mary’s Parish Church
Sekou at St. Mary’s Parish Church
People from the Methodist Church meet Sekou
People from the Methodist Church meet Sekou

Sekou Diarra visited Burley in January 2001

Sekou Diarra is the FIeld Officer for Christian Aid in Mali. He works from an office in the capital Bamako and oversees the many projects in Mali.

Sekou arrived in Burley to find the ground covered in snow – the first he had ever seen. A photograph had to be taken in case the snow disappeared overnight.

As Sekou was very keen to meet people straight away the invitation to the Pilots’ Youth Group at the United Reformed Church was eagerly accepted. There was plenty of opportunity for the young people to ask Sekou about the work of Christian Aid. Sekou was presented with a gift for his own children.

During the second day of Sekou’s visit there was the chance to meet local people at the Community Council Coffee Morning. Later that day those involved with the ‘On the Line’ Project spent time with Sekou – serious discussion, music and laughter!

Sunday morning started off at St. Mary’s Parish Church. During the service Sekou presented Revd. Peter Sutcliffe with a greetings card form Jubilee 2000 Mali. It was then possible to make the short journey, in the snow, to the Methodist Church. After the United Service held that evening at the Catholic Church Sekou spoke about the wells.

On Monday morning Sekou was shown around Burley Oaks Primary School by Headteacher Mr. Roy Pallas. Sekou had never been to a school in this country before. The afternoon started with a brief visit to The Bridge Church in Otley which was organised by the Revd. Mirella Moxon.

Sekou trained as a vet so was interested to spend time on a farm. At Low Ling Park Farm he was able to see the animals and discuss farming methods.

In Shipley, a Public Meeting had been organised by our MP Christopher Leslie at which Clare Short, Secretary of State for International Development, was speaking.

Sekou was travelling to the Christian Aid Staff Conference on the Tuesday. He was able to travel with staff from the Leeds office.

“I thought that the visit of Sekou was of great value. It helped to further bond our links with the people of Mali. This was all the more so because he is such an outgoing personality and is very easy to communicate with. He put a human face on the well–digging projects. When he talked to the women at The Bridge Church they were really impressed by what was being achieved by Christian Aid. He also talked very compassionately about the needs of the women of Mali which was very much to the point when talking to a womens group. The children of Salem URC Pilots group were delighted by his visit. He is the human face of Africa for them and they found him so very approachable.”

In September 2003 Sekou left Christian Aid to study Social and Economic Justice at a university in Belgium.

In January 2007 Mary & John Wood met up with Sékou in Bamako. He is now working with a Swiss NGO and is helping the farmers that grow the cotton.

United Service at the Catholic Church
United Service at the Catholic Church
Meeting  the Sectretary of State for International Development, Clare Short and MP Chris Leslie
Meeting the Sectretary of State for International Development, Clare Short and MP Chris Leslie
The Leeds Christian Aid Office
The Leeds Christian Aid Office
Talking to a group of ladies at the Bridge Church Otley
Talking to a group of ladies at the Bridge Church Otley