WHD 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mali: I am bracing for the worst ....

By Mamadou Samba Bocoum,  Programme Unit Manager in Plan International (Ségou, Mali)

I called my brother today and it was hard.

I have seven brothers and sisters and Gorou, 60, is the eldest. He lives in Sévaré in Mopti Region which is close to the area where military action is taking place.

Today when I called his voice was different. He was very emotional. I have never heard him like this.  He told me he was concerned about his children and his home. They had been hearing gunshots and heavy military vehicles were just 9 km away. They’re scared but he is determined to stay at home no matter what.

I know what this ‘no matter what’ means and I am anxious. I know he will stay put and defend his house to his last breath. This is hard but I understand and respect his choice.

IDPs at the coach station in Ségou. Credit: Plan International

In the Bocoum family we can be stubborn sometimes and for us our homes are our most precious possession. I suppose I would have felt and done the same thing if I was in his shoes.

Since the beginning of the fighting around Mopti and Sévaré I have been calling my siblings every day. The youngest is only 25.

Sometimes I do not get through due to poor phone lines and this sets my heart racing. I think about the worst that could happen. So far, all my brothers and sisters are all fine but I am bracing myself for all scenarios.

My faith keeps me strong.

I am an aid worker with the children’s organisation Plan International in Ségou. I have been helping displaced children whose lives have been disrupted. My colleagues and I have helped them get back to school. We’ve provided hot meals. We’ve set up safe environments where they can feel secure and where other trained colleagues help them with emotional needs. We’ve also provided emergency food and other items that they and their families need. Deep in my heart I am hoping that other aid workers in Sévaré will take care of my loved ones if the situation deteriorates and they happen to be in need.

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