Mali Visit: Meeting the Joyful People of Mali

Mali Visit

Local farmers harvest their potatoes which grew from seeds they received as part of CRS’ agro-enterprise project. Photo by Mikaele Sansone / CRS

Jarek Maciejewski is from the Archdiocese of Chicago. He is in his second year of Pre-theology at Mundelein Seminary. Jarek participated in the Global Fellows immersion trip to Mali in February.

We were honored to spend our first night in Africa at the former and the first seminary for priesthood formation in the capital of Mali, Bamako, which happened to be located by the Niger River.

After breakfast, we set off for Beleko, where we visited a couple of market gardening projects founded by Catholic Relief Services. Most people in Mali are able to earn a living through agriculture. CRS provides the local farmers with seeds and training, which helps them open their own business. Nonetheless, in order to start running your own business, you need money. Here, we have learned that people in Mali live in a community supporting one another. We experienced this mutual relationship in their daily activities.

Personally, I learned from the local people of Mali to be joyful. No matter how hard and challenging life they lead, they never complain. A small boy sitting on his own under a dry tree is smiling, even though he looks hungry. He is full of joy for the fact that you noticed him and waved to him. A woman carrying a bucket of potatoes on her head is as happy and radiant as if she was leading a life of abundance.

We took part in the gathering of the local people called ‘Saving Session’, which was also founded by CRS. Each member contributes their savings into three different buckets, which represent three different needs. The green bucket is for savings, the white one for reimbursing past events such as a funeral of a family member; and the red is for fines. The money is kept in the treasure house. Thanks to this program, people can take loans, and start their new farming business, which enables them to buy necessary medications or educate their children. Having visited Beleko, we got into the cars, and continued our journey to Segou, where we stayed for the night. This mission to Mali is changing our minds and hearts. We trust that the Lord will transform us so that we could be His servers transforming the world through fostering charity and peace.

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