A miserable situation
In 1996, Family Pfälzner visited Bamako’s state orphanage for the first time. “La Pouponnière” as the Malians call it. The conditions were catastrophic. It was clear that the low budget was simply not enough, even for the most necessary basics. There were only two women to look after 50-60 children aged between 0-3 years old. These children were often in a bad state of health and extremely malnourished. Many also had life-threatening diarrhoea. There was not enough baby food, medicine and no medical professionals to help. The hygienic conditions were miserable; children lay partly naked on the floor or there was two- to three children in a bed. They did not wear nappies and all the children drank from the few baby bottles that they had. Thus, disease spread quickly. As there weren’t any mosquito nets, the children were also defenceless against the dangerous malaria fever. The women at the time could not reasonably take care of so many children; they were overstretched and demotivated. If you didn’t shout loudly enough, you could quickly be overlooked. A dying child became part of the day-to-day life.
Heike Dohmann-Pfälzner and Peter Pfälzner were so deeply shocked by what they had seen so in Winter 1996/1997, they were able to collect 7,500 Deutsche Mark from friends and acquaintances as a small starting funds. In the following Spring, they were able to utilise the money where it was most needed by hiring 5 nurses, buying cots, milk bottles and mosquito nets. They supplied a monthly budget of 590 Deutsche Marks for the procurement of medicine, food and the salary of those who were employed. They found the German doctor Dr. Ursula Diawara, who became a trusted partner who looked after the children and the modest donation initiative over the last 20 years. A little while later two private orphanages shut as a result of irregular adoption procedures, so the number of children at the state orphanage increased to about 120 children. This number stayed more or less constant until 2012. In the following years, € 13,000 could be collected annually from donations through friends and acquaintances. In particular, the primary school and Kepler-Gymnasium school in Tübingen for many years actively committed themselves to the orphanage.This support proved to be fruitful as the children were lovingly looked after, their general health improved significantly and many children, who would not otherwise have been able to survive their first few days at the orphanage, were able to start a new life with adoptive families. In Summer 2007, the orphanage director told us that only two children had died that year– one from HIV and the other being in such a bad state that when he arrived in the orphanage, any help was in vain. This was a substantial improvement from the previous situation.
Developments since 2012
Since the armed conflict in North Mali broke out in early 2012, whereby European forces soon came to support the Malian army, the situation has been tense. As a result of the unrest and extreme drought, Mali’s economy has suffered. Bamako’s population has increased as more people from leave rural areas for the city. This has led to extreme slums around the capital. During the turbulent year in 2012, the ‘High Islamic Council’ of Mali passed a law, which stated only those with Malian citizenship could adopt Malian children. This law has had serious consequences: the number of children needing care rose to 280-300 children. This is why we need your help now more than ever! The orphanage director approached us at end of 2016 with an urgent request to hire more nurses. Unfortunately, at the moment we cannot afford it.