Ko-Falen Cultural Center, located in Bamako, Mali and Portland, Oregon is the inspiration of Baba Wagué Diakité, a Malian artist and writer now living in Portland. It has been his dream to share the culture of his homeland with the people of his adopted home. In Bambara, the word ko-falen means “gift exchange.” Ko-Falen Cultural Center seeks to promote cultural, artistic and educational exchanges between the people of the United States and Mali through art and educational programs. We believe that a greater understanding and respect between people can be reached through these personal exchanges.
We feed people
We educate students
We empower youth to realize their futures
We share stories
Through our 15 Families Food and Well-Being Program, we feed the most at-risk families and identify members who need help paying for medication or need medical attention.
Through our Tutoring Center, we educate students for FREE, k-12th grade. We also pay for birth papers (if needed) and enroll students in the neighborhood school, paying the annual fees for 40 of the most deserving students. Our Tutoring Center is also home to letter, poetry and story exchanges with American students.
Through our Entrepreneurial Programs, we are teaching students and graduates how to create their own arts and crafts businesses. We are beginning this program by teaching the history and techniques of the unique art of mudcloth. Each year, we purchase some of these artworks to sell through our website. The money earned is put back into these programs, to make them self-sustaining.
Each year, Executive Director Baba Wague Diakite visits Ko-Falen Cultural Center to oversee progress, to interview students and families, and to deliver kilos of grain and beans. He talks with and interviews students and families that are affected by our programs, and painstakingly translates and documents each encounter to share with our donors in the U.S. In this way, our neighborhood of families--young and old--can share their personal stories and connect with our donors in the U.S.