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Street Children and Family Strengthening in Mali

We were recently asked by a gentleman returning from a holiday in West Africa whether we could do anything about the condition of young children he saw working unprotected in the recycling centre in Bamako (reworking metal over charcoal fires in the heat). Girl in SOS Children's Mali Village

Especially in Bamako (the capital) the situation for many children is very bad. Rapid urbanisation has led to a rapid growing population. Mainly these are very poor and settle down in the edges of the town where some sort of "shanty towns" are created. These people try to survive somehow and their children are forced onto the streets to beg or to work in order to prevent the whole family from starving. The number of these street children is rising constantly.

Under these circumstances these poor families cannot fulfill give their children much of a life. Families break up and children end up completely alone on the streets.At present SOS Children are trying to help these children in three ways:

(1) children who have no viable family or extended family are cared for in our Children's Villages where they get a mother and a new permanent family. These children are supported by people who sponsor a child.

(2) where the child has some viable family but there is an imminent danger of collapse we run "family strengthening programs". These are specifically for families who are struggling to give their children a childhood. In total today these help 995 children; (350 in FSP Socoura, 185 in FSP Kita and 460 FSP in Sanankoroba). These family strengthening programnes are run in partnership with the local community and the supported families, and all 995 children are vaccinated and can go to school, with the aim to give these children the chance of education and some quality of life.

3) In so far as we think it helps we do low key low cost lobbying jointly with others. SOS Mali is member of the "Coalition Malienne de défense des droits de l'Enfant" (COMADE; Coalition for protecting the children's rights) and this coalition comprises more than 60 NGOs who care for children. COMADE tries to fight against violence of the children's rights. It is also lobbying the government so that children's rights are protected and raises awareness on this topic.

Because of this sad situation in Bamako, SOS Children had planned to start an FSP there (exact location: Sabalibougou) but due to the financial crisis (especially the echange rate problems) we had no money was available to realise this FSP in 2009. Therefore the FSP Sabalibougou is postponed to 2010. In addition, we would like to extent the FSP to other districts in Bamako in order to try to give more children a chance of a childhood.

As already mentioned above, there are associations in Mali who fight against child labour and who fight for the children's rights but unfortunately the number of street children is growing too fast.

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SOS Children cares for children in our SOS Children’s Villages and SOS Youth Homes until independence.