I have recently returned from Mali, where I spent a month disbursing funds for Ko-Falen’s educational projects and interviewing Malian recipients of these programs.
Because Mali is in a crisis situation at this time, in addition to the Ko-Falen Projects, I also began a food aid project called 15 Families, by selling artwork in my home in Portland, Oregon to buy sacks of rice and millet for at-risk families in my neighborhood in Bamako and in the village of Soni Tieni.
The following reports are updates that I sent back to the Ko-Falen board and to supporters of the 15 Families aid program.
Thank you so much for sending me all the great remarks from our friends and families. These notes are uplifting and I am sure will help the morale of those I will share them with soon. Today Sunday was a quiet day in the city of Bamako, but the talk about extremist muslims is everywhere–market places, in super markets, government offices and even in airline travel agencies. Everyone talks about the bad guys and how to conquer them. But most everyone is also saying that without the presence of the French, the state of Mali would have fallen in the hand of insurgents two Fridays ago. For this reason, people have been decorating their cars, motorcycles, bikes and even push carts with Mali flags one side and French flags on the other side. Underneath all that other worry is the catch that France is spending 110 million Euro a day on this war.
Today I heard that Tessali, one of the northern towns where oil was found (One of the reasons for all these problems) has been liberated by French troops. Others however care less about the oil and only care about freeing the country. Also there are small rumors about American aid arriving soon. These are things being heard and said in the street in Bamako daily for the last 4 or 5 days.
Bamako, the city of millions, seems to now have no signs of a western presence–only Lebanese that run the supermarkets. But numbers of Chinese are present even in the remote countryside as they are singlemindedly working on roads, overpasses and in other private sectors. The absence of western tourists has definitely scarred the bottom of the pot of the economy that has already been scraped by a broken and corrupt political system. Now the insurgents–some as black as southerners– make things even worse, as one finds it difficult to differentiate. You may agree with me “It takes great expertise to separate two dark things that shine differently.” The next big problem in the news here is how to secure the 1500 kilometer long border between Mali and Mauritania. I can’t wait to see how that will be done. But I am optimistic, as many of you know Malian people, “They may be poor, but they have hope; it is that hope that makes them closer to each other in society and makes them all the happiest people living.”
From the ancient Mali there is a saying, “Sending your good thoughts is equally soothing as your physical presence, because a good spirit never misses its target.”
Only love from Mali,