There are women whose courage, commitment and tenacity will overcome all obstacles.
The one nicknamed “Bibi” by the residents of the Malian capital Bamako is one of them. An attractive silhouette wrapped in a traditional boubou, a lively and good-natured look, the teeth of happiness masking many misfortunes, a mischievous air, it is very difficult for anyone who meets her to guess her age.
Bibi is actually called Maly Sangho, which is an aptonym for the one who was born in full independence from Mali (September 22, 1960), and who has become a symbol of helping orphaned children in a country that has more than 690,000. and according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), it has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world.
With a population of over 14.1 million (including 1.6 million in Bamako) and one of the youngest in the world (average age sixteen), Mali is also one of the hardest places in the world to be a child. , according to the End of Childhood Index at the end of 2021 (Global Childhood Report, 2021)
Extreme poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition, gender-based violence and early marriage are part of children’s daily lives, according to the same report.
It was in this delicate context that Maly Sangho decided to act by establishing the Niaber Orphanage (in honor of his mother) in Bamako in 1993, then the Association for the Protection of Childhood (ASE) in Mali in the same year. young orphans his mission in life.
A woman of action and heart, Bibi leads her fight with an unshakable conviction: “If it’s enough for one, it’s enough for all”.
This is how this quiet force, an orphan herself, decided at the age of 5 to fight for hundreds of orphans by giving them access to health, education and well-being.
She inherited her courage and spirit from her mother, Niaber, who during her widowhood, in Bibi’s words, “tightened her belt, put her trousers in place of her loin cloth and stood up like a man to take care of all her children as well as the children of the village of Dire in northern Mali, which has been plagued by a political and security crisis for years.
Mother courage not only built a hut (a traditional house, most often covered with straw, sometimes with a sheet), a symbol of protection, love and sharing, where the students took refuge, but also gave Maly – and her other brothers and sisters – the possibility of a better future by pushing her to study and join the capital, Bamako, to get her high school diploma there.
But traditions sometimes die hard, and as rebellious as we are, there are customs we can’t always escape. This is how Bibi had to marry her husband without saying a word. A marriage that, however, resulted in seven children between the ages of 20 and 40, all on the front lines of their mother’s struggle.
A marriage that also allowed Bibi to emulate Niaber: by caring for her own children and those in the neighborhood, especially the orphans. A modest table, but the door was always open, Maly, he saw dozens of small children pass by. The number, which is still growing, all crowd around the table, hungry but also thirsty for love.
Today, at least two hundred and four children live in the orphanage and receive full care. Children found in the streets of Mali, sometimes abandoned on the edge of the mountain, at the entrances of churches and mosques, sometimes simply thrown into plastic bags.
Children who have found refuge, attention, education and who arouse sympathy, especially the pupils of the Turkish Maarif school, who have become regular visitors to the orphanage.
An orphanage also supported by the Malian government, who kindly provided land for Little Sangho to build the buildings needed to house the young children.
Today, the little one also wishes to enlarge the orphanage, but above all to provide him with a school.
A necessary measure in a country where UNICEF says more than two million children between the ages of 5 and 17 are out of school and more than 900 schools have been closed due to an outbreak of attacks and threats of violence against schools, students and teachers, the report said. which was published by the UN on September 7.
In this, Malý mainly relies on donations and has been calling for help for several months.
A call that, among others, was heard by the humanitarian organization COJEP, which hopes to raise the necessary funds so that Maly Sangho can welcome the children in the best conditions.
Counting on the mobilization of Internet users, the Cotizup platform has thus opened a kitty for obtaining the funds necessary for the implementation of this construction project, which could change the fate of hundreds of children, even on the front lines of the climate crisis. , the Sahel region, which is warming at 1.5 times the global average, causing devastating cycles of drought and flooding (Save the Children, 2021).
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