Fashion for a Cause – ndomo
One of the first things we did upon arriving in Segou is visit a place called “ndomo” where various natural techniques are used to dye and stylize cotton cloth. Traditional and innovative natural techniques use mud, leaves, vegetables and minerals to provide color and pattern on cotton cloth. Although ndomo seeks to document and preserve these techniques, their primary mission is to use these activities to provide direction and socialization to disadvantaged young men. In their own words,
The ndomo is a social enterprise created to address the unemployment problem of young people who have not had the chance to study or to attend school. We aim to give these young people training based on local knowledge: the application of natural dyes on cotton (making bogolans and galas). In addition to technical training, the young men are socialized by instilling them with values that will facilitate their lives as men: responsibility, personal commitment, work, solidarity, in strict compliance with the values of the Malian society.
Walking into the classroom area we were greeted by our gracious guide. Even though I could not understand one word he uttered, I could sense a firm, kind patience in him that still impresses my memory of him today. I’m sure this patience serves him well in his mentoring of the young men there.
Our guide showed us a tree in the courtyard whose leaves turn orange when crushed. Also there were young men marking out designs using water soluble glue. Eventually we were led to the museum area where various colors and patterns were explained and where we could buy any of the fabrics.
This place had a sense of peace about it like what you might find at a monestary – a kind of peaceful purpose. I’m hopeful that this “social enterprise” will be successful in its mission of socializing and educating the young men of Mali. To learn more, view my ndomo gallery and visit the ndomo website (translated by Google).