SOS mother Salimata Ouedraogo describes what happened on Sunday 1 April:
“At 8am the village delegate for SOS mothers arrived at our family house. She informed me about the gravity of the situation in northern Mali and that we were leaving. She was speaking in veiled terms, not to alarm the children. We packed in haste as the bus had already arrived.
“At noon the family got in the bus and left through Bamako for Kita, 900km away. After a few hours’ drive, right in the middle of the bush, the wheel of the bus had a puncture. We had to wait on the side of the road for repair to come. We waited for 11 hours.
“Everyone, the children, the SOS mothers and the aunts, we were all tired, exhausted, thirsty and hungry; we were all resting lying on the ground as it was hot. Around 3am we could depart again with still seven hours’ driving ahead. Finally we arrived at Kita. The SOS mothers, aunts, the director of the village, the educators and staff were waiting for us in the big courtyard to welcome us.
“The family spirit is alive – we are all one same family at SOS Children’s Villages. I cook with the SOS mothers, we eat together, we watch TV and we talk with the children. It’s as if we have been together before.”
Fourteen-year-old Kadiatou, from the evacuated village, says: “I brought all my school books. I like the new family we’re staying with. They made room for us.”
Normally, SOS Children’s Village Kita cares for 267 children in 15 family houses; SOS Children’s Village Sanankoroba cares for 391 children in 14 houses. Read more about our work in Mali.