Erin's Mali Video Highlights

Trip Start Sep 17, 2009
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Trip End Nov 17, 2009


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Saturday, October 3, 2009

We have attached several short clips from our 2 weeks in Mali. The children from the dozens of villages we visted were amazing-so sweet, loving and appreciative of the little time we spent  with them and our simple gifts. The level of excitement for pencils was unreal and humbling.
 
One major takeaway from our visit is the the mantra of 'zip it, get it done, and no complaining'. We have a whole new respect for what hard work means particularly in challenging circumstances. Honestly, the stuff we complain about doesn't hold a candle so we are fully committed to bringing this mantra home and implementing on a daily basis.

The travel was tough the past 2 weeks. 8+ hrs in the car for days, 15 hrs on the boat while camping outside, bathing with a bucket of water in the same hole used for all 'purposes' that we used in the Niger River for 6 days, food stomach challenges, eating with our right hand (n/always for me..), military dramas which included a visit to the police station and pay offs, sandstorms with hurricane winds, heat in the Sahara that is hard to explain what it felt like, poverty and stick/mud huts everywhere, challenging (to say the least) infrastructure (imagine hours and hours of potholes so it takes forever to go 10 miles)....you get the point. All that said, this was the hardest trip on me, personally, even moreso than Calcutta, but also, the most rewarding. The humility, the warm and gentle waves we received from EVERYONE daily, the commitment to family and friendships throughout the country, the happy spirited welcomes we appreciated, the sharing of food with family, the smiles, the shaking of hands as people said 'Obama'  and 'Sava' when asked where we were from but didn't speak the same language. All of these experiences and more warmed our hearts and made us love our friends in Mali and each day in the 2 weeks we spent touring the country.

A quick run down of the clips:

1) The first clip is from the village of Djenne one of the most historic in Mali. Since my 4 yr s of French in HS has long been forgotten we got by with simple introductions. Brian already speaks as much French as me-ha

2) Mopti, Mali is the hometown of Amadou. We loved this village. Amadou and his brothers invited the local musicians to play for us which we greatly appreciated! The flute was hypnotic and enticed locals to join us. Dancing on the streets was commonplace-very cool.

3) Villages btw Mopti and Timbuktu (3 day leg of the Pinasse trip -aka large canoe with motor and another 3 days to Gao up in North Mali) where we would camp out on the sand each night and hang with the children. Bdog would play music and get the kids singing about Obama (they ALL know him btw and sport his t-shirt....unreal!!!)  and english: french words. We would hand out pencils to the kids that attended school (not all do if the village is too remote and kids must work). They would go crazy when we gave them the 'la crayon' ou 'la bic'. Many cannot afford tablets to write or pencils/pens. This was heartbreaking and we wanted to leave/give so much more every time.

The villagers bathe, wash dishes, swim, etc, basically using the Niger River as their source for EVERYTHING. They live in mud huts and get up at 5:30am each morning to begin the day of work which could include fishing, farming and/or harvesting. Each day is about surviving and enjoying the time with family and friends in the village. The Chiefs play an important role and we were impressed by the kindness of each Chief we met along the way. One night when we encountered hurricane like winds in a MAJOR sandstorm, the Chief came out to help dock our pinasse on the sand. Meanwhile, our 'heroes',.Kareem, Amadou, Mahmmoud, and 'Cousin' weathered the storm while we had life jackets in hand preparing for the worst. These amazing men, protected us and withstood the 50 mph + winds with a blanket to cover their eyes from the sand for US. Amazing. Toughest men I  have ever met.

4) North Mali-Gao (aka 'The Sahara')- Tough living. Turbans make sense. I would have one too if I lived there. Sandstorms come on a dime. Huts have metal closures for window cut outs and door frames (115 degree heat and no AC btw...) to protect against the sand. Agriculture more challenging there. Close to the Niger border and not many tourists go there. We were two of the three in the entire city. The clip of Gao from the car with the music in the background paints the picture we think...

For kicks, we attached a military clip which we risked capturing. This happened many, many times.

To the travelers we hung out with along the way (weren't that many):

Good luck on your journey Conrad across the Sahara Desert..hoping you find that Caravan. You will.

Patrick and Julie-we had a blast with you. We'll meet up for sure in Montreal post your year travel stint. Have a ball.

Alkayae-thanks for the music and Mopti. Beautiful

Pinasse team and Aljuma-you rock and we love you all

Mac-your food saved us

Patrick-safe travels and hope to see you in Tokyo

Vieux-we'll see you in the States. Thank you for very much for opening your home to us.

Peter-maybe we'll see  you in Austin. Let us know if we can help with Potters for Peace in Mali


Slideshow Report as Spam

Comments

cathygourley
cathygourley on

Mosquito Nets, Life & Malaria
Dear Brian & Erin -
We are touched by your blogs from the villages in Mali. Seeing their faces, and hearing how this experience has touched you to your core. Knowing your social consciences for important causes - we wanted to bring something to the attention of you and the readers of this blog regarding malaria.

There is amazing synchronicity in the world. Is it just a coincidence that Brian & Erin are in Africa right now and have highlighted the threat that malaria poses for the people of Africa? - and that, simultaneously, our little community in Spicewood, Texas has become involved in a Global Health Initiative to eradicate malaria?

The Global Health Initiative 'Imagine No Malaria' (imaginenomalaria.net) has set a goal to eradicate malaria by 2015. The United Nations Foundation, the Gates Foundation & the United Methodist Church have joined in this goal. Awesome goal, but how can it happen? Mosquito nets. Check out the Nothing But Nets campaign (nothingbutnets.net). Donating $10 can buy a mosquito net. Bed nets work in two ways: They stop mosquitoes from biting during the night and spreading the disease, and the insecticide on the net kills mosquitoes when they land on it. Shoot - $10 gets you a couple of latte's at Starbucks - let's see.... get a latte vs save a life. Think about it.

For those of you lucky enough to live in Austin - there will be an awesome fundraising concert with 6 Kick-A bands at Angel's Icehouse on Hwy 71 in Spicewood on Sunday, October 11 starting at 3 PM. Tickets are $20/adults; $10/children. This includes a BBQ dinner - and the proceeds go to the Imagine No Malaria Campaign. Each ticket buys one net.

One person, One net, One life. Sending love, peace & health on your life journeys to each of you on this blog.

Cathy & Jack Gourley
Spicewood, Texas

Rob on

What an adventure you're on! I write to you from the Imagine No Malaria campaign office. As you probably know your friends back in the States are doing a fantastic job supporting Imagine No Malaria efforts. Obviously, visiting Africa provides a unique perspective on how prevalent malaria is in daily life. I'd love to connect if you're willing to share your thoughts and insights from this experience.

Be safe and God bless,
Rob Naylor
rnaylor@umcom.org

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