Posts Tagged ‘mali’

Sahel Food Crisis: A Refugee’s Story

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

By Helen Blakesley

Refugee camp

Fadimata Walet Haiballa (in blue) is a refugee living in the camp in Fererio, northern Burkina Faso. Her husband was killed in the violence in northern Mali, so she fled with her 3 children. Photo by Helen Blakesley/CRS

Fadimata Walet Haiballa is a 49-year-old Tuareg woman from Gao in Mali. She’s been living in Fererio temporary refugee camp, Burkina Faso for nearly 6 months now. Her husband was killed in the violence in the North of their home country. She fled with her three children, her 82 year-old father and other family members, traveling for two days to reach neighboring Burkina Faso. She’s the women’s representative on the camp committee.

The militia rebels spread terror in our region. They would harass us, knock things from our hands … and worse. There were bombings, executions. I lost my husband in one of the bombings. We had to leave. We were terrified.

I left all I had behind. Life has changed completely. Back in Mali, before the troubles, we were in our big, beautiful house. We lived in good conditions. We didn’t know fear, we didn’t have this hot sun beating down on us. I had the father of my children with me. Now we’re here in the dust, with the sun. We’re thirsty, we’re surviving on mediocre food. So a lot has changed. Above all, my work, my job, with which I could feed and clothe my children, that’s all gone.

Mali Visit: The Power of Community

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Dan Thelen is from the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin. He is in his second year of Pre-theology at Mundelein Seminary. Dan participated on CRS’ Global Fellows trip to Mali in February.

I wanted to come here as a student, aspiring to learn from the Malians and their way of life. It is true that they suffer much from a poor economy and therefore they are deeply thankful for the work of Catholic Relief Services and of the other aid groups. However, despite this poverty, they are deeply rich in other ways. One of these ways is in community.

Just after our plane touched down in Mali, we were driven through Bamako at about 10 pm on a Wednesday night. I was startled, however by the overwhelming activity. Mopeds, cars, bicycles and walkers were crowding the streets and alleyways for miles and miles. In America we would be wrapping up our day and looking forward to a nice and quiet night. However, here in Mali the people were enjoying their evening by socializing and sharing with one another. The energy and excitement of the evening was vibrant and wonderful. The next morning, the activity was no different. As we drove through the city, once again the streets were lined with people. The people seemed joyful. They were dressed in many different traditional outfits. The colors and the diversity of their clothing seemed to speak to their love of life.

Mali Visit: Making Kids in Mali Smile

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Dan Morris is from the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas. He is in his second year of Pre-theology at Mundelein Seminary. Dan participated in CRS’ Global Fellows trip to Mali in February.

On all of our visits to the various cities, towns and villages, I have quickly realized one thing: all Malian kids love to have their picture taken. And seeing how each of us has come equipped with a digital camera, it creates a natural way to engage those we encounter throughout our time here. This could not have been more evident than when our group journeyed down to the market area to try our luck at bargaining, while being spoken to in a language we know not and using a currency that made us feel like we were spending far beyond our means.

The best part of taking pictures of the kids is seeing how their laughter and joy more than double after having taken their picture, in response to being shown the picture on the screen of the digital camera. It is as if they have just been introduced to their own uniqueness, creativity, and beauty. And as you can only imagine, this experience only inspires them to want to do it all over again.

Mali Visit: Meeting the Joyful People of Mali

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

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.

Mali Visit: Baltimore to Bamako

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

David Pratt is from the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas. He is in his second year of Pre-theology at Mundelein Seminary. David participated in the Global Fellows immersion trip to Mali in February.

Our second day was spent in much anticipated travel. Having spent two hours in an airport shuttle, I was reminded that the back of a van winding through Washington D.C. traffic was the perfect recipe for bringing my motion-sickness back to life. Our travel plans have been thoughtfully booked to allow us maximum enjoyment of the airports. Our travels would take us from Baltimore, to Dulles Airport in Washington D.C., across the Atlantic to Paris, and finally conclude in the capital of Mali, Bamako. This would make for a long day, but with the leisure afforded in our schedule (and through a Dramamine induced sleepwalking) we were able to witness stark contrasts in culture.

Mali Visit: Preparing for the Journey

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Brandon Barlow is from the Diocese of Green Bay. He is in his second year of Pre-theology at Mundelein Seminary. He participated in a CRS Global Fellows immersion trip to Mali in February.

Our group of 11 travelers has just concluded our time of preparation at Catholic Relief Services headquarters in Baltimore. This trip to Mali has been a long time in the making, including conference calls, packing lists, itineraries and spiritual reflections. The 2 CRS employees, 3 priests and 7 seminaries have bonded together fairly well thus far. Some of us, like Mikaele Sansone, CRS’ Global Fellows Program Officer, and Fr. Jerry, have a lot of experience traversing the globe. Others, like David and me, will be taking our first journey beyond our home continent.

The main fruit of our time in preparation thus far has been in developing a greater understanding of the current situation in Mali and our purpose in going on this visit. As a group, we developed four main objectives/goals in order to help direct our trip. The first among these is to be immersed fully into the people, livelihood, and culture of the people of Mali. Additionally, we hope to experience the work of CRS, including both the staff and the beneficiaries. One of the unifying characteristics of those going on this journey is the Catholic faith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Accordingly, we hope to live in a manner worthy of the calling as we journey on our way. Finally, we hope to experience a personal transformation as we take in the many encounters and experiences of this trip.

It is important for each of us to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, in whatever way God desires to move us.

Mali Visit: Recalling Faces, Stories

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Mali Visit

The chief of Deri village. He and the people of his village benefited from CRS assistance in building a water canal near the Niger river which helps them water their produce more effectively. Photo by Mikaele Sansone / CRS

Anne Marie Bonner is the program coordinator for Operation Rice Bowl. She traveled to Mali with the Global Fellows in February in order to gain a better understanding of how CRS works.

Our 12 passenger van bounds across the alternately paved and dirt roads between Sevaré and Bamako. Our visit to the West African nation of Mali is coming to a close; today we return to the country’s capital and prepare for our departure tomorrow evening. As we drive west toward Bamako, I find myself staring out of the window for long stretches of time, trying to embed the image of the Malian countryside into my mind. The landscape here seems endless. Miles of sandy plains and brittle brush are punctuated by the occasional mountain range. Stately baobab trees appear at intervals, like mile markers on an interstate. In the distance, the meeting of sky and desert forms a perfect horizon.

Mali is a large country – roughly the combined landmass of Texas and California – and is located in the Sahel region of Africa. Close to ninety percent of its population lives in the southern territory where fertile land and vegetation are more abundant. However, the most pressing concern facing the Malian people is the issue of food insecurity. The economy in Mali is agriculture-based, with nearly eighty percent of the labor force working as subsistence farmers. Crop yields are dependent on favorable or unfavorable conditions, including droughts, floods and locust invasions.