Socoura is a very small town in the Mopti region of northern Mali, one of the most isolated areas in the whole of Africa. Government programmes have gone some way to alleviate the region's problems, but opportunities remain limited.
The whole country struggles with the high price of and insecure access to food. In Socoura this is further compounded by the recent conflict in north of the country, that has only exacerbated problems people face.
Struggling with isolation
Over 80% of the people in the Mopti region continue to live in poverty, and this has meant that many children have to work in the fields to add to their parent's meagre incomes. Consequently, a large number of children miss out on education, and illiteracy is extraordinarily high.
Access to education is further hampered by the isolation of the region and the limited transport links. The low level of education that children receive means that few have the opportunity to break out of the poverty they have grown up in.
Displaced by conflict
In 2012, the Mopti region was beset by conflict between different rebel groups trying to gain control of the area. Many families fled the violence, leaving their homes and possessions behind, and travelled to the south of the country.
For the children involved this displacement had an extremely damaging effect, as their education and development was abruptly disrupted. Getting these children's lives back on track is a key challenge for the region and essential for securing the future of the country.
What are we doing in Socoura
Our work in Socoura has been especially challenging due to the violence of 2012. We have been working there since 1997 and are committed to helping children through crises and the long-term issues that follow.
2012: Children's Village evacuated amid intense violence
The fighting in the north of Mali threatened the children and staff who were living and working in Socoura. We made the difficult decision to evacuate 140 children and staff to our Children's Villages in the south of the country, where they continued to receive all the care and support we were able to offer.
Many of our team were so committed to their work during this time of conflict that they chose to stay behind in Mopti. They continued to offer assistance to children and families in the region and worked hard to keep the SOS nursery and schools open.
2013: Returning home
In 2013 we set up a special programme assist families displaced by the conflict. We provided counselling to help people deal with trauma, as well as food and nutritional advice to keep them healthy.
In July 2013, the area around our Children's Village in Socoura was safe enough for staff and children to return. We have also been helping other families who wanted to return to their home but were deterred by the long distance.
Today, we are working to get back to normal as quickly as possible and offer children the stability they need to lead prosperous lives. We will continue to expand the support we offer to families, and provide a loving home for children who cannot live with their parents. Please help by sponsoring a child.