A Long Road Away from Home
In the middle of an overcrowded compound, nine year-old Ahmed is adjusting to yet another life. In less than a year, he has had to move twice from his home in Timbuktu, in northern Mali, to Mopti and now to Ségou. Yet, Ahmed has high hopes for the future.
As the news of an immediate attack against Mopti spread across Mali, Ahmed’s father knew they had to run for their lives yet again. They boarded the first bus from Mopti and made the six hour journey to Ségou, in central Mali.
“Along the way, I could hear gunshots. I didn’t see the troops or the action, but I was so scared. I am glad we made it to a safer place,” Ahmed said.
Since the beginning of the year, clashes between armed insurgents, the national army, and international forces around the Mopti region have forced thousands of people to flee. Many fled to Ségou, which is now hosting more than 19,000 internally displaced people – mostly women and children.
Memories of Life in Timbuku
Ahmed did not arrive in Ségou with his mother. Habibatou remains in Timbuktu with his siblings – about 610 miles away. Timbuktu has been under the control of armed insurgents since April 2012.
Ahmed misses his family.
“When I was still in Timbuktu, I used to play a lot with my brothers, my cousins, and my friends. We played football all of the time. That was really fun. I miss them all now.”
Ahmed Benefits from Plan's Educational Programs
In October of 2012, armed insurgents in Timbuktu closed all of the schools. His parents felt they had no other alternative but to have his father escort him to Mopti so that he could continue his education.
In Ségou, Ahmed was reunited with friends from Timbuktu, like Sadou, who also fled to central Mali to attend school. Ahmed is now part of a group of children who are benefiting from Plan’s educational programs. Since the beginning of the school year, Plan has distributed more than one thousand school kits to schools in Ségou.
Plan is also running weekly catch-up classes to help displaced children keep up with their studies. Ahmed is still hoping to return to Timbuktu “as soon as the situation is better,” his father has said.
Cultural Growth in Ségou
Ahmed is making the most of his stay in Ségou by discovering a new passion for traveling and exploring new towns.
“I like seeing new places, buildings, and roads. Here in Ségou, everything is so different. For example, the markets in Mopti and Ségou have a variety of vegetables and food that I’ve never seen before,” he says with a sparkle in his eye.
When he grows up, Ahmed would like to be a teacher. This would require at least ten more years of school. Without financial help, this would only be a dream; but with the assistance of organizations like Plan, Ahmed is back on his way to reaching his full potential.
Plan has recently established an emergency response program to aid those affected by the conflict in Mali. In addition to the distribution of food and non-food related items, this program will offer the following programs:
- Child Protection
- Education, and
- Water and Sanitation
Read additional articles pertaining to the Mali Conflict and learn more about Mali.