The story of Bintou

Bintou Sangaré, a 9-year-old girl and daughter of Lassina Sangaré, a farmer, lives in Farabani, a village located in the rural commune of Kola, the intervention area of the project, 21 km away from Bougouni. Like Bintou, several other children her age would go to Kola to work at the gold mine to support their families.

Bintou was first enrolled into school when she was 7 years old, by the parents. She spent a year between school and the mine in Kola. She and her aunt and some neighbors would leave at dawn for the gold mine in Kola, on weekends and during holidays, to do some ‘lélali’ (carrying and washing clay in a pit filled with water).

Asked about her situation, Bintou says, “As I would make some money every day in the gold mine, I chose to drop out of school to go and work in the ‘Dama’, a local word for traditional gold mine.

Bintou was then identified by project workers when conducting a survey related to the situation of children in this traditional gold mine in Kola. Thanks to the implementation of the Program against child labour in traditional gold-washing mines in Bougouni (Sikasso) a lot of   behavioral change is being noticed. As part of the implementation of the project, a committee has been set up in the village of Farabani for children’s protection. This is true also for the other two communes (Ouroun and Syentoula) under the intervention strategy.

In partnership with the community, the project built and equipped three classrooms with school benches in the same village of Farabani, which helped reduce significantly the distance children would have to walk to go to school.

The project also opened a bridge school (accelerated enrollment strategy) in Farabani to help children aged 12 and more attend school).

Thanks to the opening of the bridge classroom and the building of three classrooms in the village, Bintou’s parents were sensitized and became convinced that their children should now continue their studies. Bintou was quickly withdrawn from her work at the gold mine in Kola. Now, she will attend regularly a bridge school for nine months, so that she may join a formal school system next year.

Bintou says: “I like going to school because I want to become a teacher”.

Like Bintou, other village children go to school and do not play truant anymore, according to their teachers. They feel motivated to go to school and fully participate in lessons, as proven by their physical presence in the classroom and also by raising of their hands to answer questions teachers ask. A regular monitoring of children is carried out by the committee in order to ensure that children regularly attend and stay at school.