The ongoing conflict in the northern regions of Mali continue to have devastating effects on the country, especially regarding access to basic social services such as education. Today, 300 schools are still closed and more than 60% of children are not going to school. A sobering statistic if one believes that children really are the rock of a country’s future, and the greatest asset of a nation.
In terms of emergency and peacebuilding, UNICEF supports the reopening of schools and alternative education opportunities for the children in these conflict zones. “Passerelle” is one such program.
In 2012 armed Islamic rebels attacked the city of Gao, in Northern Mali and opened fire on civilians. Eight year old Adeoula lost her mother. She now lives with her grandmother Hadish. One of Hadish’s greatest fears was that the children would remain uneducated. So when the Accelerated Learning Center of Bourougoundye opened up down the road, Hadish was there on opening day to ensure Adeoula received a place in the school.
Adeoula started at the school at the beginning of 2016, and continues to thrive. At first, she was unable to write her name, but now she can write and even read a little. She has friends, and something to wake up for and somewhere to go every morning. She has hope despite the deep trauma she has been through, and the loss she has endured. The teachers and children at the school continue to walk alongside Adeoula and Hadisha and for the first time in a long time, Adeoula has started to sing again.