MALI: Vulnerable youth take part in safe free-time activities
Salesian missionaries provide safe activities and education to help disadvantaged youth
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries operate the “Promotion of healthy educational entertainment for disadvantaged young people in the Niaréla neighborhood,” in Bamako, Mali. The project, supported by the Municipality of Pozoblanco in Spain, aims to strengthen support for disadvantaged youth through educational activities that promote cultural values and the talent of each person. Youth take part in organized sports, music, and free-time activities that are healthy and safe.
Salesian Father Romeo Salami, who is working in Mali, said, “Seeing the boys and girls so happy in this project is something that gives me joy. Soccer and sport in general, as well as music and theater, are a way to bring joy even in times of confinement and social distance. Young people always need to feel together and united.”
In addition to this project, Salesians have been focused on COVID-19-related projects that are helping youth to stay safe during this challenging time. Fr. Salami added, “As in the whole world, here too COVID-19 has caused not only a health problem, but also a problem of reduced income or loss of jobs due to the confinement measures. And for the most vulnerable people, those who earn their living day to day, it’s a very tough situation. Our goal is to stand by the side of the most vulnerable young people and their families in Mali.”
Fr. Salami stressed the importance of solidarity during this time. With the support of Bosco Global, Salesians in Mali were able to provide essential food during the most difficult phases of the pandemic, carry out campaigns for raising awareness on COVID-19, promote proper hygiene and distribute materials to stem infections. Last year, Bosco Global also provided hand-washing stations in Salesian vocational training centers so youth could return to school.
Fr. Salami explained, “Thanks to the collaboration of Bosco Global we have managed to comply with the safety measures required in most of our projects. We distributed masks to every student and distributed disinfectants to the whole educational community.”
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 need 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.
ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)
World Bank – Mali