|The children at the three schools have made space to welcome their new classmates - Photo: SOS Archives|
More than 130 children who have had to flee their homes or were given by their parents into the care of relatives or family friends living in regions of Mali that are not as dangerous as the northern regions are attending the three SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools of Mali. SOS Children’s Villages gave them all the school materials they needed so they would not miss any lessons. The children who were already attending the schools gladly made space for their new classmates from the dangerous parts of Mali.
By letting these children go to school, SOS Children’s Villages is helping them in three significant ways: Firstly, ensuring that they won’t miss any lessons will spare them any short-term academic problems which would otherwise reduce their chances for the future. Secondly, they receive a meal every day at the school canteen, which reduces the strain on the families they were entrusted to by their parents. Thirdly, going to school gives children a sense of normality that is crucial for children who have suffered a traumatic disruption of their lives that might cause long-term psychological and developmental problems.
|The children receive a daily meal at the school canteen - Photo: SOS Archives|
The World Food Programme estimates that some 130,000 people have fled the northern regions of Mali after armed groups took control of several cities following a military coup in March. Hospitals, schools, aid agencies and government buildings have been pillaged, which makes survival impossible in a region already severely hit by a food crisis that extends over the entire Sahel region.
In Mopti, where SOS Children’s Villages recently evacuated the SOS families to bring them to safety in the South of the country, more than 4,500 people are seeking shelter and food. The vast majority of them are children, many of whom have been separated from their parents or were entrusted to relatives or friends of the family.
This adds strain on families who are already fighting to provide for themselves. Aside from the fact that children who are not in the care of their parents or usual caregivers are at a higher risk of being exposed to abuse and exploitation, this also means that even the best caregivers will soon be needing help to provide for the rising number of children who depend on them.
|The SOS Children's Village Socoura will likely remain evacuated for a long time to come - Photo: SOS Archives|
The children who were evacuated from the SOS Children’s Village in Socoura near Mopti as a preventive measure in the aftermath of the advances of the armed groups a month ago continue to live and go to school in the SOS Children’s Villages Sanankoroba and Kita. In all likelihood they are going to stay at the two villages and are going to attend school there for the next year too.