SOS Children's Village Khouloum is situated in the town of Kayes, around 420km north-west of Bamako, Mali's Capital. The town has a population of around 127,000, the majority of whom make a living from farming.
This region is one of Mali's driest and food is not always readily available to the people in the area who need it. This has meant that the rates of child malnutrition in and around Kayes are amongst the highest in the country.
The living conditions in Kayes are some of the worst in Mali – already a very poor country – putting children there in an extremely precarious situation. They often have very little access to healthcare and education, and many have to forego school in order to care for younger siblings.
The lack of employment opportunities in and around Kayes means that many fathers migrate to other areas of the country for work. Consequently, an increasingly number of children are growing up in female-headed households. These children are some of the most vulnerable in society.
Girls at risk
Girls are particularly badly affected by the social and economic environment in Kayes. They are often forced to marry at a very young age, and as a result large numbers miss out on the educational opportunities that would help them thrive in the future.
Just as worrying is the young age that many girls bear their first child. Girls and young women undergoing early childbirth are at a much greater risk of running into complications and, combined with limited medical support, this has produced a very high infant and maternal mortality rate.
What SOS Children is doing in KhouloumWe started working in Kayes in 2011, in response to the high number of children who needed care. Since then we have continued to expand our operations in the region whilst responding to emergencies as they arise.
2012 saw Kayes affected by an extremely severe food crisis that threatened the lives of children and families throughout the region. We reacted immediately and offered emergency food aid to families, focusing on young children and pregnant and nursing mothers who were most at risk.
As well as this immediate assistance, we have worked with local farmers to help them develop more resilient supplies of food for the future. This long term approach will mean that any future emergencies are not as severe.
15 SOS families provide love and care for up to 150 children who can no longer stay with their parents. These children are looked after by their SOS mother and live, along with their siblings, in the SOS Children's Village in Khouloum.
Young children attend the SOS nursery before going to our SOS primary and secondary schools. Here, they are taught alongside other children from the area, allowing them to make friends and integrate in the community.
Many children in Kayes are in desperate need of help. We are there to provide much-needed support to the most vulnerable members of society. By sponsoring a child, you can Mali's most disadvantaged children.