The people of Mali face recurring droughts, persistent poverty and outbursts of violent conflict. Education and health facilities leave much to be desired. Nearly 48 per cent of the population is under the age of 14; these children are among the poorest in the world and thousands are without parental care. SOS Children's Villages is currently providing vital support to families and children in four permanent locations throughout the country.
Children in rural areas are particularly at risk
A special moment as a child watches his SOS mother cooking (photo: J. Honoré).
Sanankoroba is a small town situated 30 km south of the Malian capital of Bamako. It is a rural area where many villages are hard to reach on unsafe roads. People live off agriculture - some grow cotton to sell, but in most cases, families struggle to produce enough food to feed themselves. Droughts occur regularly and water is a scarcity: families living here have limited access to water-gathering points. It is often difficult to get medical treatment and education for the younger generation.
Most recently, Sanankoroba has also been affected by the political instability of the country. In March 2012, a military coup ousted President Touré while rebel groups in the north of the country were fighting for control of the region. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes. Many of these went south, to places such as Sanankoroba.
In April 2012, the 140 children and co-workers living at the northernmost SOS Children’s Village in Mali, SOS Children's Village Socoura near Mopti, had to be evacuated and were moved into the two southern SOS Children’s Villages of Kita and Sanankoroba. They joined the SOS families and attended the SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools and Kindergarten there. The evacuated children returned to SOS Children’s Village Socoura in July 2013.
SOS Children's Villages continues to intensify efforts in the area
The SOS Family Strengthening Programme in Sanankoroba supports people from local communities, ensuring that children receive education, adequate nutrition and health care. We assist parents by providing guidance and training workshops on income-generating skills and positive parenting practices. We offer counselling and psychological support to children and parents, as well as day-care for the children of working parents and alphabetisation programmes.
Our social centre in Bamako, located 30 km from the SOS Children’s Village, offers the same support to children there. We cooperate with local organisations to ensure that we can reach out to as many struggling families as possible. In 2012, we ran an emergency programme to provide nutritional support during the Sahel crisis. Today, our efforts in the region remain as important as ever, because an increasing number of children need support.
What we do in Sanankoroba
Happy children going home after a day at the SOS Kindergarten (photo: E. Lavenac).
SOS Children’s Village Sanankoroba opened its doors in 1987 and has been providing stable, loving homes for vulnerable children ever since. Today, up to 150 children from the region who have lost the care of their parents can live in one of 15 SOS families, where their SOS mothers affectionately care for them and their siblings.
The children attend the SOS Kindergarten together with children from the neighbourhood, thus ensuring that they are integrated into the community from a young age. The children then go on to complete their primary and secondary education at the SOS schools in Sanankoroba.
All three SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools in Mali remained open during the fighting and took in additional students, many of whom had arrived from the conflict-ridden areas of the country. We tried to give the children a sense of stability by allowing them to continue their education despite the difficult situation.
When young people who grew up in an SOS family feel ready to move out of home in order to study or complete vocational training, we continue to support. The young adults live together in houses for boys and for girls, supported and guided by a qualified counsellor as they make the transition into independent adulthood.