Abdoul, 15 years old,
successfully reintegrates into Mali

Abdoul, 15-year-old boy dissuaded from migrating to Europe through personalised support

Present in Mali since 2012, Terre des hommes (Tdh) protects migrating children. We raise awareness of migration-related risks while taking into account the opportunities it can offer. We work to ensure they maintain access to their rights and propose alternative solutions where possible. Through this, we reduce and prevent the risks these children face and provide them with help when they find themselves in difficulty.

The young Abdoul intended to migrate to Europe. He lived in poverty in a village in northern Mali. From Gao, a town in one of the urban transit and destination districts, he wanted to continue his journey to Lybia. Terre des hommes and its partner identified him and offered him safer and self-fulfilling alternatives to this migration.

In Gao, he first stayed with a Koran teacher, who exploited him as a beggar. He ran away from this man and sought refuge with his uncle in the same town. He then worked as a stevedore in the market and as a butcher’s apprentice to earn a little money to be able to pay for his journey to Libya. “In my village I saw lots of young people who had migrated to Europe and came back with plenty of money. They were able to do great things for their families and really helped their parents a lot,” he explains.

Literacy and professional training to discourage risky migration

We supported Abdoul first of all with a literacy and daily life skills training. Later, he could attend vocational training in order to learn tailoring. On completion of this course, the project equipped him with a starter kit and working capital to enable him to set up and exercise the new trade he had learnt.

This support has really enabled the young man to give up his idea of taking up a risky migration to Europe and to concentrate on his income-generating activity. Today, Abdoul earns some 1.500 F CFA a day, i.e. 15.000 F CFA per month (equivalent to around 25,5 CHF per month). “Thanks to this job, I can send money back to my parents in the village. And I can even save a bit more all the time!” he recounts gratefully.

Since the project started in Mali in November 2016, more than 230 young people affected by mobility have benefitted from personalised social support in Gao. Of these, 103 were given training and socio-economically reintegrated.

The “Hope Point”

Once a week, young project beneficiaries and other children from the town visit the so-called ‘Hope Point’, a protected community space set up by Tdh in collaboration with the communities. There, they can learn about children’s rights, the risks and opportunities linked to migration, as well as the dangers in their environment. Abdoul still visits the ‘Hope Point’ in his district. “Taking part in these activities makes it possible for me to understand how to protect myself and my pals,” he relates responsibly.

This boy no longer dreams of leaving Mali to migrate. He has settled down in Gao town. “Today, I am a valued tailor by trade, and I can help my parents at the same time,” he says with pride.