Kouloun, Mali is a community that was in great need of change. The crippling poverty, malnutrition and infant mortality were too much to bear, leading to high instances of child abandonment.
In 2011, SOS Children’s Villages Canada stepped in. In partnership with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, SOS Children’s Villages Mali and a variety of local community partners initiated a Family Strengthening Program in Kouloun in 2011 to transform these trends for the better
Between the community in Kouloun and the SOS Family Strengthening Program, remarkable changes have occurred in Kouloun. In fact, the services are so significant that each of the 8 Millennium Development Goals are addressed within this one program, changing the lives of thousands.
The first goal is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Before the SOS Family Strengthening Program, 65% of the community in Kouloun had less than one meal a day. Now Kouloun boasts three community gardens, with irrigation systems as a sustainable food source for all, addressing the MDG goal for environmental sustainability. And, 80% of these people get three meals a day.
Another MDG challenge is to achieve universal primary education. Previously, the dropout rate in Kouloun schools had been dramatically high—three years ago, over 68% of children and youth had abandoned their studies. Through workshops, the Family Strengthening Program worked to build awareness that education is a child’s right. The result was a dramatic decrease in the dropout rate, which is now only 10% of children in the community. With equal opportunity for both boys and girls to go to school, this has also been huge progress for gender equality and empowerment.
In Mali, the average maternal mortality rate due to pregnancy or childbirth related complications is one in fifteen, but with medical resources and parenting classes to teach proper nutrition, beneficiaries of the Kouloun program are changing these numbers.
Like their own maternal health, mothers can feel secure in their children’s health care as well, in anything beyond receiving proper food and nutritional supplements everyone is provided.
Diseases like HIV/AIDs and malaria are no match when up against our Family Strengthening Program. Though prevalence of HIV/AIDs and malaria in Mali is not as widespread as in other African nations, HIV/AIDs still causes nearly 7000 deaths a year, and malaria nearly 2000. These diseases are much lesser risk through educational workshops that inform community members of precautions they must take for themselves and their children.
Finally, by providing vocational training and microloans for families to begin their own business, we are showing aid in the form of MDG 8: A global partnership for development.
Canadian's wishing to support SOS Children's Villages are encouraged to sponsor a child, sponsor a village or to make a direct donation. Your support ensures that SOS Children's Villages can continue to provide a safe and loving home to orphan and abandoned children worldwide.