Assistance for the abandoned children of Bamako
Deprived of family support and access to medical
services, schooling and vocational training, street children and
youth are socially excluded. They are victims of physical and sexual
violence and are highly exposed to dermatological infections, malaria,
schistosomiasis, STIs HIV/AIDS and drug-addiction (solvent inhalation).
They have fallen into a psychological process of desocialisation,
which is linked to stigma and the internal perverse logic maintained
by groups of street children. This leads these children to confine
themselves to their personal territories and makes it so they are
incapable of expressing their suffering and asking for assistance.
Meeting with street children
during the day and at night: offering medical help, providing a forum
for them to express themselves, and helping them off the streets
The mobile assistance teams (composed of a driver, a social
worker and a doctor or a nurse) of samusocialMali
drive around the neighbourhoods of Bamako every night. Two rounds,
specifically directed toward girls, are carried out by a team of women.
The teams work locally to provide medical, psychosocial and educational
assistance. Through medical care and group and individual talks, professional
and multidisciplinary teams warn children about the dangers of a hostile
environment. They help them to better understand past events, to overcome
present difficulties and to make plans for the future. Depending on
the situation of each child, referrals to medical structures or shelters,
partners of samusocialMali, are
carried out during night rounds.
During the day, the teams provide weekly medical services in the partner
centres. They also conduct street rounds and provide follow-up for
children who have been directed to a referral medical or social unit.
In Bamako, many children live in the streets without any medical
or social care.
Medical care being given in a samusocial flying clinic.
Better understanding the issue of street children
samusocialMali has set up a database
that enables it to accumulate information collected with children
and to conduct statistical studies in order to better identify the
socio-demographic aspects of the problem.
In 2002, the association thus initiated and supported the National
Office for the Promotion of Children and Families project that
involved counting the number of wandering children in the district
It is currently working on a qualitative research project about the
situation of street children in Bamako, based on an analysis of individual
childrens files that are put together by the teams.
Transmitting a real know-how and building the capacities of participants
samusocialMali was entrusted by
the Malian authorities with the official mission to train the public,
private and associative parties who work with street children
in Bamako. The training was composed of five specific units over the
period 2002-2004. It aimed to improve educational and therapeutic
assistance by transmitting guidelines and tools for a clinical and
psychopathological approach to children and teenagers in danger on
In addition, the association has intervened since 2003 within the
framework of the Inter-University Diploma "The approach of
mobile children in danger on the streets of large urban centres,"
set up by samusocialInternational
in Paris with the Medical Universities of Saint Antoine and Créteil.
The samusocialMali team has also
welcomed professionals of other Samusocial organisations targeting
street children in order to share their specific expertise during
inter-association talks, organised by samusocialInternational.
samusocialMali has participated
in Unescos international project on "Street Children and
HIV/AIDS" since 2003. The first comments are available at www.paueducation.com/sida.