You thought it was over….but it’s not. After reading through my last blog post I realized that it was obnoxiously boring and void of any deep thinking. This, of course, will not do.
Impact on Mali
Obviously on a personal level I am upset that my time in Mali was cut short and that I was unable to have the experience that I was expecting, but most of my thoughts lay with the people of Mali. As Mali enters one of the worst food shortages the country has ever seen, they are also being faced with instability in North and a dramatic drop in foreign aid.
Over 200,000 Malians have been displaced because of the Tuareg/MLNA/AQ-IM activity in the North. These families are crammed into their relative's houses and struggling to find any way to make an income. Those who chose to stay in their homes in Timbuktu, Kidal, and Gao are facing harsh conditions with the implementation of Sharia Law and purging of any western influences.
Though vital humanitarian aid has not been cut, all other foreign aid has. When managed properly, foreign aid can lift an entire country out of the slums. When skills are transferred and systems are created, foreign aid has the ability to alter a country’s path. Unfortunately, when that process is stopped mid-stream a lot of the progress that has been made disappears and when the aid workers (and money) finally come back they are starting back at square 1 or 2 and as a result, progress is delayed. *
*I am going to clarify this paragraph a little bit because I want to make it clear that I am 100% confident that Malians have the ability to survive without the help of foreign aid. This is not a superiority; the small African country needs western developed nations sort of idea. The reality is that at this point in time Mali is dependent on foreign aid and many Malians have built their lives around it. This not only includes the matrone whose healthcare clinic is funded by X country, but also the Bamako shop owner who caters specifically to western aid workers. If the aid programs were allowed to run their course without interruption, they would eventually be able reach their end goal: to no longer be needed. The mass exodus of foreign aid caused by the coup may be a bigger blow to everyday Malians than the coup itself.
“Change Your Mind”
Though I don’t think I have discovered all of the ways that Peace Corps has impacted me, here is a small list of things I have noticed:
· Time seems to go by faster- I think living without electricity, internet, and other modern amenities really forces you to find entertainment in simple things and appreciate just watching time pass.
· I don’t care about a lot of the things I used to stress about- This may be due to my recent exhaustion, but a lot of the small (and some of the big) things just don’t bother me anymore.
When the plans I make go askew (sidenote: google the word “askew”)…who cares? Now there is just room for something better to come along.
· People are good- I have always believed that people are innately good (some have just been more negatively influenced than others), but I think meeting Malians and watching them interact with each other has really reinforced this idea.
“Don’t Know What You Got Til it’s Gone” (Except, I Kinda Did)
· The Shooting Stars
· The Peace Corps Camaraderie
· Toh (haha, just kdding)
· The people, the people, the people
· Market Days and Bargaining
· Designing Dresses for the Tailor to Make
· Long afternoons Drinking Hibiscus Tea with My Neighbor
· Joking Cousins (great way to make instant friends)
· The Ease with which Malians Laugh