15 months ago, 139 children were evacuated along with their SOS mothers after the military coup which ousted President Touré led to unrest in the Mopti area. Though the situation improved quickly following the intervention of Malian and French forces, SOS Children decided to delay the return of the evacuees until after the school year had ended.
According to Ibrahima Bane, SOS Children’s director in Mali, the entire process of evacuation and reintegration could not have gone better: “The children were well integrated in the two Villages that hosted them. Their success at schools speaks volumes on this. Nine out of ten students who took their final exams passed with flying colours.”
In spite of their success away from home, the children were delighted to return to a safe and secure Mopti. Ibrahima says: “Ever since French troops intervened in Mali alongside African and Malian forces, the situation has been returning to normal. The area around Mopti is safe, probably even safer than before, due to the presence of UN troops.”
On hand at a time of need
In spite of the dangers of staying behind, many staff remained in Mopti after the children were evacuated.
“Anyone else who wanted to flee was free to go, but the vast majority stayed to protect the infrastructure and equipment of our village and of the SOS school”, says Ibrahima. “I am sure that they would have been looted if nobody had stayed.”
SOS Children supports 500 children and their families in Mopti through vital community work. The war made out presence indispensable. These families rely on us for their survival, in particular for the education of hundreds of children from vulnerable families who attend the SOS school in Mopti.
Not only local children need our help. Over the last year, 32 children who have fled with their families from the occupied territories in the north of Mali have depended on this school for their education. “We stay because we are needed now more than ever,” says Ibrahima
Though the violence in Mali has subdued, we will remain alert to any future dangers, particularly after the election. Ibrahima is confident SOS Children is well prepared: “In the case of unrest following the elections, we will do everything in our power to keep the children and staff safe. We are constantly monitoring the situation, as we did during the advance of opposition troops last year. We are ever vigilant.”
The elections are an essential stage on the road to peace and stability to Mali. Last Sunday will be an important day in deciding how future generations, including the children from our Village in Mopti, will live their lives. What the upheaval of the last year has proved beyond doubt, however, is that the children and families we care for in Mali will receive the very best of support for as long as they need it.
The security of the children we care for in Mopti depends on the support of our donors. Learn more about what we are doing to help vulnerable families across Mali, and find out how you can help...