Kevin Whately has been sponsoring with Plan since 1994. He has a particular interest in Africa and West African music and six year old Toure who he visited is the fourth African child he has sponsored.
Kevin and his family began to sponsor when his children were quite young. He says that the letters and information they received were "much better than a geography lesson."
His trip to Mali in March was the first visit he had made and not only did he visit Toure but also 17 year old Mamou whose recent marriage and re-location to her husband's village meant that she would be leaving the sponsorship programme.
Kevin has been sponsoring Mamou since the year 2000 and to see her, and her community and visit her extended family was very moving. As the village mayor said, "seeing is a hundred times better than hearing."
The warmth of his welcome in the communities he visited was overwhelming and he spoke to community leaders, mothers in the health clinics, young people at school and the extended families of the children he sponsors as well as the children themselves.
He watched plays, danced, and also met the very latest addition to Toure's family, a baby sister only a few days old. Children in Mali he noticed work very hard, the young boys drove cart to markets and looked after the animals, the young girls collected water, cooked, swept and looked after their younger siblings.
One of the major challenges that emerged is the education of girls, many leave school too young in Mali, though nobody denied how important it is to keep them there - "educate a girl and you educate a village" - was a theme that kept coming up.
Much had been achieved in the communities he visited but much more needs to be done. One boy talked of his dream to be a doctor so he could help his community. Helping young people like him to fulfill their dreams is what sponsorship is all about.