The security context in central and northern Mali weighs heavily on vulnerable families and has left them with bad memories, as it has made their lives worse due to forced displacement, sometimes far from their homes. People who have always relied on farming and livestock as their main activities for survival are now forced to abandon all their possessions to save their lives and those of their children.
It has been four months since Penda, a married mother of two children, a boy and a girl, fled her home in Soye township, with her relatives to a nearby village.
"Our displacement is due to the insecurity caused by armed groups. My whole village was forced to leave to escape the violence. We came to Diaba Peulh because we thought we would find some peace, "Penda recounts.
According to the mother of two, despite fleeing to what they thought was a safer place, things are not going as planned, because they were confronted with several difficulties that they were not used to in her village.
"When we came here, we faced all kinds of difficulties, such as lack of enough food and money to cover our children's food and health care needs. That is why my husband went away to find something to do, so that he can help us from time to time with money to feed the children," revealed Penda.
Penda has not heard from her husband since he left. This unexpected silence from the father of her children forced her to seek help from well-wishers in the neighbourhood.
"I am unable to provide for my two children because I have no income-generating activity. I was counting on my husband who left us since our arrival here. I thought that luck would smile upon him so that he could help us through this difficult period. But unfortunately, I haven't heard from him since he left," she says.
Given the difficult living conditions in which Penda and her two children currently find themselves, they were selected as beneficiaries of three months of food aid, through a World Vision programme which provides assistance to displaced families in central and northern Mali.
"My family was living well because my husband had a field and livestock that he sold to feed us before the conflict, but the context has changed because of insecurity. Thanks to God, I have been selected as one of World Vision's food beneficiaries," she says.
"I am happy because this aid has arrived, it is very important for us because it will allow us to eat well for the next three months. We are very happy and grateful for this. I hope my husband will be with us very soon because we miss him very much," she says.
World Vision distributed food to 372 conflict-affected households in the Mpoti region, including Penda's family. Even though she now has enough food to feed her small family for sometime, she is still anxious about her husband's whereabouts and silence.