Adama Traoré lives in the village of Sadiola, in the Kayes region of Mali in the west of the country. He has been working as a vaccinator in the community health centre of Sadiola for more than 10 years.
"When I was young, we had poor neighbours. One day, one of their kids suddenly started to get pimples on his body, red eyes and a high fever. He had measles and his parents didn't have money to bring him to the hospital and buy him medicine. After a week of suffering, a kind man living in our neighbourhood decided to take him to hospital. He was so lucky to totally recover, but his older brother, who was in the same situation two years before wasn’t as lucky, and unfortunately died. This was the main motivation for me to become a vaccinator."
Today, Adama is going to meet children living in Massakama gold mines.
He decided to become a vaccinator because he wants to improve the health of the children in his community. "We are in a gold mine area, and many families work and live here, with their children completely isolated and deprived of any care."
At 7:30 a.m., Adama leaves his house to go on his first stop at the Sadiola community health centre. Once there, he picks up his motorcycle and continues his way to his second stop: getting vaccines at the Kobokotossou community health centre, which is the closest health centre to his final stop, Massakama. Thanks to the support of the Canadian Government, UNICEF has equipped this centre with a solar fridge to keep vaccines at a consistent temperature.
"We are in a gold mine area, and many families work and live here, with their children completely isolated and deprived of any care"
By now, Adama has already gone 60 kilometres, but Massakama is still another 50 kilometres away. On his motorcycle, Adama carries his carefully-secured vaccine box, vaccination register and a pack of gloves. "Before I leave, I make sure that everything is well attached and I check one last time that I’ve packed all of the basic vaccines — pertussis, childhood tuberculosis, tetanus, polio, measles and diphtheria, hepatitis, diarrhea, pneumonia, yellow fever and meningitis — which I might need, because each vaccine can save a child's life.”
It's 8:30 a.m. and under the high sun, the thermometer is already creeping towards 40 degrees Celsius. Adama starts his race against the clock to get to the gold mines in Massakama, vaccinate as many children as possible and return home before the sun goes down. The road he must travel is difficult, isolated and devoid of any infrastructure. It is a dangerous journey.
After two hours of driving, Adama finally arrives at Massakama gold mines site, exhausted but determined.
More than 2,000 people, including families with children, live at this site every day. There is no school here and no health centre anywhere nearby. With no other options, many of the children here work on the site, deprived of all their rights to protection, education, survival and development. Mariam*, 14, has been working on the gold fields for five years now and has never been to school. "I want to leave here, because I’m tired. My dream is to go to school like my friends.''
"I just started working on the site and my child was never vaccinated,” says a mother of a 6-month-old child. “I heard that there have been cases of measles among three teenagers from Senegal, and that if I don’t vaccinate my child, he might catch the disease and can die.”
At 2:00 p.m., Adama lets the parents know that he will return the next week. He puts his equipment back on his motorcycle to return to Sadiola before dark.
"Adama is doing a great job,” says the village chief of Massakama. "Here, parents spend their days looking for gold and do not finish until very late. Without this mobile vaccination activity, most of them will never be able to vaccinate their children."
UNICEF and partners such as Gavi are supporting the Ministry of Health to bring vaccines directly towards the most isolated and vulnerable children. In the Kayes region, only 41 per cent of children receive all the vaccines they require to stay healthy.
*Name and age changed
Become a Monthly Donor
For every child in crisis.
Stay up-to-date on UNICEF's work in Australia and around the world
30 May 2023
5 questions with our Ambassador Erica Packer
UNICEF Australia Early Years Ambassador Erica Packer tells us all about her experiences being a mum and what being a Global Parent means to her.
28 May 2023
In photos: A special visit to Borroloola with Pat Cummins
Test cricket captain and UNICEF Australia Ambassador Pat Cummins heads to the outback to meet some incredible kids through the Indi Kindi program in the Northern Territory.
27 May 2023
Busted. Eight myths about periods
What happens when you get your period? For many girls it depends largely on where they live.
26 May 2023
Children in emergencies: then and now
The need to support and protect the world’s children has only grown, and the photos captured by our teams worldwide echo images from when UNICEF was first established to help children, no matter where they are.
24 May 2023
From birth to rights: why birth registration matters
We won't stop until every child counts.
16 May 2023
100 days of recovery, survival and hope
17 May marks 100 days since the deadly earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria earlier this year. Amidst the aftermath of this disaster, the resilience of children shines through.
16 May 2023
In photos: 100 days of rebuilding lives in Türkiye and Syria
It has been 100 days since the deadly earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria devastated children and families. See their journey from heartbreak to hope thanks to the ongoing support of people like you.
16 May 2023
A mother's strength in the face of a cyclone
Millions of parents and children are at risk in Myanmar and Bangladesh in the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha.
3 May 2023
Aussie kids ask big questions about global emergencies
UNICEF spokesperson, James Elder chats with kids about global emergencies and the impacts on children.
2 May 2023
Edwina Bartholomew and UNICEF talk maternal health challenges in Papua New Guinea
Sunrise host and Ambassador for UNICEF Australia, Edwina Bartholomew, speaks with UNICEF about pregnancy and birth for new mums in Papua New Guinea.
26 Apr 2023
What is happening in Sudan?
As the conflict in Sudan escalates, UNICEF is working tirelesslessly to protect the children caught in the middle of the devastating crisis.