Mali Visit: Making Kids in Mali Smile

Dan Morris is from the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas. He is in his second year of Pre-theology at Mundelein Seminary. Dan participated in CRS’ Global Fellows trip to Mali in February.

On all of our visits to the various cities, towns and villages, I have quickly realized one thing: all Malian kids love to have their picture taken. And seeing how each of us has come equipped with a digital camera, it creates a natural way to engage those we encounter throughout our time here. This could not have been more evident than when our group journeyed down to the market area to try our luck at bargaining, while being spoken to in a language we know not and using a currency that made us feel like we were spending far beyond our means.

The best part of taking pictures of the kids is seeing how their laughter and joy more than double after having taken their picture, in response to being shown the picture on the screen of the digital camera. It is as if they have just been introduced to their own uniqueness, creativity, and beauty. And as you can only imagine, this experience only inspires them to want to do it all over again.

As I began to reflect on this simple experience, I realized just how much the CRS model works in much the same way. In all of their projects, CRS enters into relationships with the local communities with a respect for the people, their culture, their ideas, and their ability. They do not come to telling them what to do, but instead to help the community do what it already knows it needs wants to do. CRS becomes a partner whose voice at the table not only helps to break down the political, economic, and structural barriers that stand in the way, but ultimately strives to empower the communities to establish and sustain a better life for themselves.

And much like seeing the true joy expressed by the kids after showing them their photo, it is equally, if not more beautiful seeing the pride on the faces of the communities affected by the programs funded through and provided by CRS.

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