The Association Malienne des Femmes Handicapées (Association of Handicapped Women of Mali or AMAFH), created in 1994, is directed by a board of ten members. Only women with a handicap can be members of the association irrespective of their religion or ethnic group. AMAFH recognizes that there are a lot of prejudices in the traditional societies in Mali which are unfavourable for the emancipation of handicapped women. These women/girls often stay at home without any possibility to go to school or find work. Parents (which can be father, mother, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts) of these handicapped women cannot always find a husband for them. So their life is not an easy one within the extended families. The main objectives of AMAFH are to improve the living conditions of their members, help them in finding schooling or work, to make them autonomous in their social and economic context.
The president of the board is a dynamic woman, moving around in a wheel chair or in her chauffeur driven car. She is well educated, runs a cybercafé and wants to better the lives of her handicapped sisters who don't have the possibilities she has. The AMAFH board is quick in administration matters and correspondence, a project proposal is written within a week, and after a training the narrative and financial reports are ready in a few days and sent to the KoZon Foundation in the Netherlands. Because of these fast actions we were able to find a donor rather quickly and the trainings asked for in December 2004 were all finished and reported by June 2005.
There came new requests of blind and deaf members for a solar cooking training. For the 18 blind members of AMAFH we found a Dutch institute for blind and partially sighted persons, which accepted to finance a CooKit training provided that two days, also financed by them, should be added and be focused explicitly on ways for the participants to find work or income generating activities. This fits flawlessly the objectives of AMAFH.
News and recent developments
March 2008: The Association of Handicapped Women (AMAFH) continues to arrange solar cooker training for its members in Bamako, with organizational support from the Association of Women Engineers (AFIMA) and financial assistance from Dutch foundation KoZon. In 2006, AMAFH taught 60 deaf and hard-of-hearing women how to use a CooKit solar cooker during a 2-day training. In a follow-up visit months later, at a school for deaf children, the women cooked a delicious solar feast. Fifty women with leprosy were trained in early 2007. With the loss of nerve sensation caused by the disease, traditional open fire cooking can be dangerous for these women because they can unknowingly get burned. Another benefit is that the women have increased status in the community because they now know something that most don’t: how to cook food with the sun. They said that with the CooKit they can prepare special recipes for their husbands, prepare groundnuts for their children, and even sell solar-cooked meat in the market. One remarkable woman, Mariam Toure, has lost all but one finger. Yet, she already has plans to lead a training early this year for another group of women with the disease. AMAFH also led a 2-day solar cooking workshop for 20 mentally disabled women in late 2007, which was well received.
- Use of the CooKit by Handicapped Women in Mali - Wietske Jongbloed
Association Malienne des Femmes Handicapées
Tel: +223 603 37 47
See also: KoZon Foundation