Islamic Relief believes that helping children to thrive is an investment in a better future. This Universal Children’s Day, inspirational Salimata, 16, reveals how we help her secure positive change for children in Mali’s capital city.

I am an orphan sponsored by Islamic Relief. I live with my grandmother, my younger sisters, and my uncles and aunts. My uncle is the breadwinner, he is a truck driver.

Islamic Relief helps us. Thanks to Islamic Relief we receive money towards our basic needs every three months. The money pays for my school fees and my clothing too.

I am attending 12th grade in high school. I work hard. Children should go to school because they need education so that they can have a good future. I would like to become a doctor, to heal people around me because I don’t like to see my loved ones suffer.

Islamic Relief sponsors 3,600 orphaned children in Mali, which is one of the world’s most difficult countries in which to be a child.

Through Islamic Relief I heard about children’s club in Sabalibougou, Bamako. We were introduced to the children’s club, and other children voted for me to be its president.

Empowering children as agents of change

I tell children to respect their parents and elders, to study, to go to school. During school holidays we organise activities like poetry recitation, and sketches, spelling bees and cultural [activities] also. We organise these activities to help children.

When someone in the children’s club has a problem, they come to me. I then call the Islamic Relief project coordinator who then helps resolve the problem. Thanks to this club I learned about children’s rights – like the right to education, health, life, development and hobbies – and how important they are.

Members of the children’s club, all orphans sponsored by Islamic Relief, meet in Bamako.

We organise activities on the protection of children’s rights in schools and town halls. We also educate our families and our neighbours so that they know children and their rights are important. This will bring happiness to children because children will no longer suffer. Some people are changing their behaviour thanks to these trainings.

One of my aunts was beating her daughter. She did not even have time to go to school, and [on the few occasions she did go] she would sleep because she had no free time to rest. But when I talked to her she realised the importance of [her daughter’s] rights.

A child is an investment today for a better future.

Salimata leads a children’s group run as part of our Channels of Hope project which tackles child protection issues as well as gender-based violence in Mali. Through the scheme, five children’s clubs in Bamako and Ouelessebougou support children to focus on topics that they feel are important to them. Although meetings were halted due to Covid-19, activities have recently restarted with social distancing and other safety measures in place. Support our life-changing work around the world: donate now.