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Children play at the Point Hope centre in Mali. ©Tdh/Bintou Camara

Hawa* and her mother are now living with a foster family in Gao, Mali. They fled from the nearby town of Gossi because of multiple attacks and general insecurity in the area and were taken in by the family of Aminata Assane* – a grandmother from the same Tamashek ethnic community.

At 14, Hawa had never been to school. Instead, she worked as a domestic worker to support her mother – providing money for their healthcare and other needs.

Every morning she was eager to get to her employer’s house, despite living in a city enduring long-term instability and economic problems. “I worked a lot, but my employer didn’t pay my salary,” Hawa remembers regretfully.

Realising she was being exploited, Hawa no longer wanted to be a domestic worker. “I wanted to learn something and help my mother,” she says. But she had to go back to her mother without finding another job, and her mother needed the financial support.

Hawa was identified as a child on the move who needed protection by the Faraben association – which means ‘the end of suffering’. The scheme is supported by Destination Unknown campaign member Terre des Hommes and Environnement et Développement du Mali, with help from USAID.

“After meeting me, Faraben mediated for my former employer to pay my money,” says Hawa. The scheme has also built and strengthened the ability of communities to protect children on the move like Hawa.

Since September 2016, 592 children on the move, including 245 internally displaced children, have received care and assistance in Gao. Terre des hommes and Enda have been able to strengthen six community protection initiatives developed entirely by local organisations, such as the Faraben association.

Today, Hawa is much less vulnerable to exploitation and other dangers. She has learned how to read and write and knows the rights, responsibilities, risks and opportunities involved with moving. Each week, she participates in socio-educational activities at a children’s reception and guidance area called Point Hope, which was set up by the project.

With Faraben, Hawa has learned other ways of earning money to financially empower herself. “Today, I can write and read my name. I have learned how to make liquid soap and peanut paw. Each time [I attend Point Hope], I am given 5,000 West African CFA francs. This money helps my mother a lot to buy our clothes and pay for our medicines.”

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the children interviewed.

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