AFRICA/MALI - Guaranteeing the right to childhood: commitment of Salesian religious in local communities

Friday, 16 November 2018


Touba (Agenzia Fides) - Over 850 thousand children under the age of five are at risk of acute malnutrition in Mali, more than one million children do not attend primary school and one million do not have access to secondary school. To help cope with this emergency, the Catholic parish of Touba, which includes 76 villages, is committed, through the work of Salesian missionaries, to guaranteeing the right to infancy of young Malian children.
Among the initiatives launched, missionaries who are inspired by Don Bosco have just inaugurated 15 classrooms to offer literacy services to the local community. The Salesians have started technical and professional training projects, have created a small sports center, have opened a high school and built a pension that houses students who come from distant rural villages.
The commitment in this field was necessary because in Mali poverty, conflict and lack of education are the scenario in which they are born. According to Unicef, with the worsening of security conditions in the Country, the young ones are denied the opportunity to survive, study and grow in a healthy manner.
Mali is located within the Sahel, a semi-arid region that divides the Sahara from the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. The country is 90% Muslim and only 5% Christians are (half of them Catholics). Although it is a small minority, the Catholic Church in the Country continues in its commitment to peace and inter-religious harmony, also through education services. Among the main advocates: Mgr. Jean Zerbo, Archbishop of Bamako, first Malian Cardinal, appointed by Pope Francis in July 2017. In 2017 over 650 schools were closed by terrorists with the slogan "no to education, yes to 'Islam". Last year the Bishops reported the situation of poor security in different areas of the country, underlining that Mali is "the epicenter of jihadist groups that rage in the Sahel", as noted by Fr. Edmond Dembele, Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 16/11/2018)