MALI: New project is helping to build new classrooms and improve the quality of education in Sikasso
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries arrived in Mali 35 years ago to work with disadvantaged children and older youth to provide them quality education with the goal of improving their lives. They currently operate programs in the cities of Bamako, Sikasso and Touba. Recently, the Spanish Salesian-run organization, Solidaridad Don Bosco, developed a project to expand a Salesian educational center in Sikasso.
Spanning 12 months, the project relies on the support of the Spanish municipalities of Utrera and Pozoblanco and will benefit youth served by the center who are experiencing situations of exclusion.
Children in Mali face many challenges including violence. A few years ago, the Madrid magazine, Misiones Salesianas, reported, “The population of Mali, after a year marked by violence, could neither sow nor harvest. Children will not see the colors of spring shine because their future is imperfect. Whether their future can be perfect depends on us. We take advantage of the joy of Easter to become a light that helps, after a year of darkness, to bring forth a new spring.”
Unfortunately, it seems that this situation has not changed and there have been more deaths, massacres, kidnappings and attacks on churches as well as on a Christian religious procession. Salesian missionaries are hoping that access to education will provide a path out of poverty and violence for many youth.
The Salesian center in Sikasso currently has 430 students enrolled and only 11 classrooms. In order to improve the services offered by the center and the quality of education, the new project includes the construction of a new building that accommodates eight fully-equipped classrooms. It is also assisting with the recruitment of new teachers.
Currently, the Salesian center offers vocational training in the automotive, electrical and metal construction sectors. With the addition of new classrooms, it will be able to provide supplementary training during holiday periods as well as recreational and leisure activities.
“Solidaridad Don Bosco is grateful for its supporters and will continue to bring awareness to the plight of both Salesian missionaries and the youth they serve in Mali,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “We know youth in Mali are dealing with much more than just needing access to education. Salesian programs are tailored to meet the needs of youth in the communities they serve. Those who are homeless and malnourished are simply not able to focus effectively on their studies while they struggle to meet their basic needs. Our services provide food and shelter so youth are able to focus on the education provided.”
Since 2012, Mali has faced a political and security crisis that has been concentrated mainly in the north of the country. The crisis has now reached the center of the country and is affecting hundreds of people, especially children. In 2017, armed groups in the northern region and the Malian government signed a reconciliation agreement, but in 2018 the conflict reemerged. According to World Vision, currently more than 483,400 people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
As a result of this crisis, the situation in the country has worsened and the population is living in alarming conditions. It has affected access to food, water, health, safety and a means of livelihood.
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World Bank – Mali