Sponsor a child in Mali

SOS Social Centre Mali

In a country covered by desert, drought is a real problem for farming communities and the people of Mali are constantly threatened by malnutrition and starvation. SOS Children has offered vital support and resources to vulnerable children and their families since 1987.

To make a difference to a child's life, sponsor a child in Mali:

Sponsor a child in Mali

Subsistence farming leads to food insecurity

Mali is one of the poorest countries in Africa, with half the population living on less than $1 per day. Poverty and starvation are inevitable as most families depend on the insecurity of subsistence farming. This means that droughts and poor harvests make food worryingly scarce. Food insecurity is compounded by political violence, which since early 2012 has caused tens of thousands to flee the north, seeking refuge in the south and neighbouring countries.

Children afflicted malnutrition and child labour

Children in Mali lead precarious lives. Infant mortality and malnutrition is high and 1 in 3 children suffers from stunting. Extreme poverty leads to child labour, and children are often trafficked to the Ivory Coast or recruited for religious indoctrination by fundamentalists. 92% of women have been subjected to female genital mutilation, and this is often carried out before the age of 5, leading to severe psychological and medical consequences.

Our work in Mali

Sponsor a child in Mali map

A lack of education in Mali has prevented families from escaping the cycle of poverty and insecurity. 26% of Malians are illiterate, and education is particularly hard to come by for women, who are often discriminated against in the educational and professional sectors. SOS Children cares for children whilst their parents are working, helping families stay together and giving children a stable and optimistic upbringing.


As a result of food shortages and drought, SOS Children opened its first Malian Children's Village in Sanankoroba in 1987, and has been providing care and education to children there ever since. We also work with families affected by famine and poverty, providing support to parents so they can offer their children a stable and caring upbringing.


Kita has one of the highest incidences of malnutrition in Mali, and now more than ever, children need the support and care we can offer. As well as ensuring that children have adequate nutrition, healthcare and education, SOS Children offers guidance and literacy programmes for parents.


The recent violence in northern Mali meant that children from our Village in Mopti were evacuated south. The situation has become a lot more stable in recent months, and in July 2013, the children were able to return home to Mopti. We are currently running an emergency relief programme from Mopti and we aim to help 10,000 of the internally displaced people who have settled here.

Aids Orphans in Mali

See also Aids Orphan Projects in Mali, Africa.

Life in SOS Children's Villages Mali: Adama's speech improves

Adama did not have a very good start in her life. Left by her father before she was born and abandoned by her mother at a very early age, Adama ended up staying with various relatives until she found a new home at SOS Children's Village Socoura in 2004. Her difficult early childhood has had a devastating impact on her development, but Adama and the village community are working to improve the situation.

Adama's problems started when her father, a worker in a sugar factory, left his wife to seek adventures while she was pregnant with Adama. The girl was born in September 1997 in the city of Markala in Southern Mali, but was not granted a long time to spend with her mother. Her mother, who was suffering from mental conditions, abandoned Adama; she is still missing. Adama was first accommodated by members of her extended family. Then, her aunt on her father's side took Adama with her to take care of her. This aunt died five months later (in 2001). Adama's next caregiver was her paternal grandmother, but she died, too (in 2003).

Once again, Adama stayed with her extended family, until another aunt agreed to take care of her. This aunt, however, was thrown out of the house with the child by her husband who accused Adama of being an 'evil child' (according to traditional African beliefs). Faced with the threat of divorce, the lady requested help from the Centre of Family Placement, where Adama arrived in November 2003. Soon after, six-year-old Adama was admitted to SOS Children' Village Socoura near the town of Mopti.

Being shifted around has left clear traces in Adama's development. Adama is now nine years old, but looks as if she was five. But her problems reach far beyond that. When Adama arrived at the SOS Children's Village, she used to cower down and remain in that position almost all the time. Her SOS mother Brigitte recalls that "she was not able to do anything; her arms were just like rags.". And she did not speak a word.

Brigitte - who had been eager to take Adama under her wing from the very first moment on - and the other village staff had a lot of work ahead of them, and a lot of loving care as well as patience and understanding was needed from the whole village community.

"Brigitte has always accepted her and she is doing a really good job to help Adama," states Ms Tapo Kadiatou, social co-worker of the village.The SOS mother adds, "At first, I had to provide her with toilet training, which is quite a difficult job with nine other children in the house. Then we moved on to dressing oneself. I used to pull clothes over her head when I dressed her, and she tried to finish on her own. Now she can dress herself, she can even put on her shoes."

Another main concern of the village staff was - and still is - Adama's capability to speak. "The medical examination was fine - her vocal cords are not damaged. Here, in Mopti, we don't have speech therapists and psychologists", says Brigitte. So the village co-workers do their best to stimulate Adama to speak.

In addition to that, SOS Children's Villages offers her the best speech and development training available in Mopti. "She has appointments with educators at the 'AMALDEM' (Malian association for abating mental disabilities) Centre of Re-Education three times a week", says Tapo.

Very slowly, Adama left her shell she had withdrawn to from the outside world. First, she proved that she understands spoken language. "She reacts when I call her and when we tell her something, she acts accordingly. She understands what we are saying", Brigitte points out happily.

"She is now integrated, she plays with her peers, but she still misses speech skills very strongly. She becomes angry and irritated when people don't understand her", reports social worker Tapo.

Brigitte is still focussed very much on the child who needs her the most: "My only wish and hope is that Adama will, one day, talk like the others, so that she can live a normal life in society. We - the children and I - keep on trying to teach her how to speak. We don't give up; we always continue to stimulate her." Recently, Adama started delivering the most wonderful reward for their efforts: "She can say 'Mum' and 'Dad' now! And she tries to pronounce the names of her sisters and brothers!"

*For privacy reasons, we have changed the girl's name and do not use photos showing her.

Local Contact

sponsor a child in Mali

SOS Children in Mali

Association des Villages d'Enfants SOS du Mali

Quartier Torokorobougou

BPE 495



Tel: +223/20 28 57 60, +223/20 28 96 63

Fax: +223/20 28 32 88

Email: ibrahima.bane@sos-mali.org