Assetou Keita is a young Malian mother from Segou. She arrived at Action Against Hunger’s health centre in Bamako last Friday with her four month old son, Oumar. Her husband, a farmer, stayed behind to take care of the fields. But with the economic impact of the crisis in Mali, in addition to the severe drought that affected the Sahel region in 2012 and the security risks related to armed intervention, they decided it would be better for her to go alone with their son to seek refuge in Bamako and find a job to make ends meet.
A Family’s Struggle
With over 600,000 inhabitants in Bamako, this area of the Malian capital is both the poorest and the most populous. Located at the entrance of the city this is where many people arrive, displaced by conflict, political crises, or economic hardship.
"I do not know anyone in Bamako, I do not have family here. Fortunately, a friend of a friend has agreed to accommodate me while I find a job and find something to rent,” says Assetou. “My husband and I were struggling. We had some crops this year, but it was not enough for us to survive, eat, and dress. For some time, my son refused to suckle. He fell ill. This is our only child. We had to do something. After arriving in Bamako, I quickly went to the health centre. This is where I learned that my child was suffering from malnutrition. I did not know about this disease.”
Oumar was suffering from severe acute malnutrition, combined with diarrhoea and was at risk of dying. He was hospitalised while being closely monitored.
“Yesterday, he began to cry and scream,” says Assetou. “Then he began to move and make more noise. We saw that his condition was beginning to improve."
An Uncertain Outcome
"What is my wish? I would like my child to heal first, then I want to find a job, ideally I would like to be a servant in a house somewhere. Once I have enough money, I would like to reunite with my husband in Segou. The problem is that now I'm afraid to go back. I do not know what will come of the situation."
According to our teams on the ground, residents of Mali are in survival mode. With food stocks dwindling and food prices on the rise the future remains uncertain for people like Assetou.
Action Against Hunger continues to work with families across Mali, saving lives and providing sustainable sources of food for the future.
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