Children caught in the crisis in Mali are determined to get back to normal in the midst of conflict and ongoing violence.
Ahmed jumps into the air in front of the door at the center in Timbuktu where he gets counseling for what he's been through. Only a month ago, his father was killed in front of him in a raid by bandits. Ahmed is only 15 years old and he's recovering from what he’s been through. At the UNICEF-supported center, he rediscovers his sense of joy and laughter and gets away from the responsibilities and sadness and his home, if only for a few hours. He’s focused on supporting his mother and his siblings and looking forward to the day when peace returns to his region.
Moussa, age 10, takes flight in front of the wall outside of the informal site in Mopti where his family fled to after a deadly raid in his village by an armed group. He just wants to return home. But in the midst of uncertainty and displacement he also finds time to play, laugh and be a child.
Fourteen year old Ibrahim get some serious air at a center for boys who've been impacted by the crisis. Some of them have been associated with armed groups, some of them were trying to get to Europe and got detained and turned back. At this safe house in Bamako, all the boys have a heart wrenching stories but it’s here where they can recover and they get support to rebuild their lives.
Aminata, age 15, jumps into the air in Timbuktu. She experienced severe trauma when she and her family were held at gunpoint by bandits on the roadside and they were taken overnight and kept in the forest. Her mother never recovered from the incident and ended up passing away, leaving Aminata to cope without a mother in the ongoing crisis. She’s has gone back to school and is trying to get back to normal life in Timbuktu. She wants peace to return to Mali and she’s taken on some of her mother’s roles to help her siblings get to school and stay healthy.
Sixteen year old Abdou was associated with an armed group. His family fled the violence but left him with their animals. Before long, the herd died from the drought and he was left alone without any means to survive. He joined the armed group seeking safety and the meagre sums he earned doing the cooking and cleaning. He got away from the armed group because he heard about UNICEF support that could help him set up a business. He got a grant and now runs a small shop in his village.
Salimata, age 9, jumps in the air at a center for displaced children and unaccompanied minors outside of Bamako. She’s one of thousands of children trying to get back to their families. As the violence continues, getting home only becomes harder.
Mamadou, age 15, was associated with an armed group for self-defense in the Mopti region of Mali. He jumps into the air outside the center where he’s found shelter while waiting to go home to his family. He’s excited to get some skills training so he can become a mechanic.
Adama has never known peace in his town of Timbuktu. He’s 9 now but for the past 7 years his community has been torn apart by conflict and lawlessness. He witnessed extreme violence at several points during his life and he’s gotten support to help him process what he’s been through. He’s in school and is dreaming of a better future for himself and his country.
Awa’s uncle's been missing for months. She was at home with her family when they were caught in a raid on her village and fled for their lives. She saw the houses burning and heard gunshots. The next day they returned to their home and tried to salvage what they could before fleeing to safety in Mopti. She’s in school and trying to get back to normal life as her community copes with the trauma and challenges of being displaced. She’s 12 years old and she’s excited to keep going with her education.
Nine year old Hamadou leaps into the air at a center outside of Bamako for unaccompanied minors. With the conflict escalating, more children are being separated from their parents as families flee. UNICEF is working to ensure all children are released from detention and given support at shelters like this one.
Ismael, age 16, takes flight at a center for children who have been released from the military detention center in Gao. The boys are often arrested with adults and held in the same cell. UNICEF continues to advocate for the immediate release of any children in custody. At centers like this, they are given counselling and support to get back home and rebuild their lives. Boys like Ismael are able to get small grants to help them get started in their new life.
Ten year old Balla jumps into the air at a refuge for children who have been separated from their parents. Some of the boys at the center have been there for months and have no idea when they will go home. The boys have created a supportive community for each other, and moments of fun and games help distract them all from their sadness.
Fatou was with parents when their village was attacked at the beginning of the crisis in Mali in 2012. They tried to flee in a pirogue, a traditional fishing boat, but the gunmen opened fire and killed her parents. Six years after the event, she’s now 15 and she's recovering. Her dream and ambition is to open a business soon. Community workers identified her vulnerability and she gets support through a UNICEF-supported center in Timbuktu.