Welcome to the Mali Team's blog!

We would like to thank everyone who is supporting us on this God-given adventure. We're so grateful for your prayers as we prepare for this cross-cultural experience! Our travel dates are June 2nd-June17th, 2010. We will be in the capital city of Bamako, as well as the villages of Mandiakuy and Koro.
Look for updates in the coming weeks, but especially in June, as we will be posting as often as we can. God bless!

Friday, June 18, 2010


I have a few of the pics that the team took during our time in Mali, so I figured I'd post some. This first one is the team (minus Dr Norman) in front of the WV Bamako office. Steve and Chip, from Joni and Friends, are in the back and Dabere Dembele, our main WV contact is with us in the front.This is just a fun one from when we were working with the pump out in Mandiakuy. For the purposes of science, of course we had to test out our new handle extension. Though I must say, I think Emily was just holding on for dear life!

This last one is just a shot of the workshop group- I think everyone truly got a lot out of the presentations.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hello faithful followers!

We are posting from an airport... back in the States! We (Liz, Sarah and Jo) have one more flight, before we are home - but as far as we know, everyone else is back in their respective countries safe and sound (Emily to England, the Normans in France). It's been a long day and night of traveling, but we are all doing good!

So... just some catch-up. The second day of the workshop (Tuesday) went really well. Dr. Norman led and presented the results of our study from the last 3 years and the World Vision staff responded really well. There were multiple break-out sessions to begin looking at possible implementations of the findings and equipment. It was really good to just watch people getting excited and even just beginning the discussion of how to use our study to reach a wider group of handicapped people than just those in Mandiakuy. So exciting! Sadly, today was the day we had to say goodbye to Chip and Steve. They have been a great addition to our team, encouraging and just so fun to have around. It truly has been hysterical watching the interaction of the 3 men - we all miss them already.

Wednesday was spent in a flurry of activity as we packed up, checked our bags in early at Bamako airport, and hit up the market. Unfortunately, Sarah has been semi-knocked out the past 2 days (but toughing it out!) so she finally got some much needed rest as the rest of us spent some time in the afternoon with WV director Fabiano and his adorable family, enjoying some fantastic Brazilian coffee (so long NesCafe!) and fruit salad - so good! Truly, it has been sad and hard for all of us; saying goodbye to each other, people we've worked with (Dabere and Vincent!), and the community. O Mali, we will miss you.

But now, we are back safe and sound - and can't wait to catch up in person with everyone! Thank you so much! We've so appreciated your love, prayers and support. <3

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jour Onze: In Bamako

This weekend was spent traveling slowly from Tominian to Bamako. Along the way we stopped in Bla to meet with Tafili and her sewing cooperative. Her story is amazing- she is a handicapped woman who has truly become an implement of God Himself, drawing deeply on His strength to impact the lives of other handicapped persons in her community. The light of her smile illuminates everyone around her and she speaks with a peace and confidence envied by us American women- and we were raised with every privilege in the world.

On Friday night we stayed at the World Vision guest house in Bla. The food was good enough to create "food babies" in more than one team member (TMI?) and the stars were so stunning that we stayed awake late into the night under our mosquito nets on the roof.

The day Saturday was spent traveling from Bla to Bamako, stopping in Segou for a lavish lunch including Nile perch from the Niger (An intentional misnomer, I believe). The cars were indeed like large ovens on four jolting wheels and the roads were merely a nod in the direction of paved, but through vast innovation and persistent joy on the part of all team members, we reached Bamako in high spirits.

Saturday night we realized that because of all the traveling, our fearless leader had entirely forgotten that the next day was Sunday. Et alors, in the morning we ended up resting in, saying our prayers, and meditating on the existential pleasures of Mali over hot chocolate and fresh bread. C'est la vie.

We observed the Sabbath in true biblical style, steadfastly avoiding even the slightest pretense of work and instead visiting the local market, taking naps, journaling, and tying up Steve and Chip's appendages. Ok, so we did actually do some work. That last activity entailed practicing "handicapping" people for the purposes of our workshop activities on Tuesday.

Speaking of the workshop, today's session went really well. Steve and Chip focused our group of 30 world vision employees, church leaders, and handicapped persons on the theology of disability. They used passages from Luke 14, Romans 8, and John 9, facilitating a discussion on the barriers posed to persons with disabilities, how God views them, and how we can become more like Christ in our interactions with society as a whole. You should check out some of their materials at www.joniandfriends.org.

Ok well tonight is going to be spent recuperating from the long hours we put in today.

(ok the blog was supposed to post this last night, but you're getting it tonight. Thanks to those of you who noticed :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jour Huit

hello all!!!
This morning was a very restful morning! We had a huge storm last night and most of our rooms got decently flooded throughout the night. Dr. Norman gave us his air conditioned room for the night and he slept in another room. We got a lot colder than we thought we would just because we were so used to the heat that our bodies got colder faster than if we were at home. This morning we were supposed to go out and visit more people, but because it was off of a side road we couldn't go because of the amount of rain we received over the night. So we got to sleep in a bit this morning and had a great discussion for devotions. Around lunch time we went to the tailors to see if he was done with our clothing, and we went to visit Levi to have him fix some of the items we needed for our presentation in Bamako. Steve and Chip, from Joni and Friends, joined us just in time for lunch!! It was great to talk to them and inform them of what we have been doing and what some of our future plans are. In about an hour they will go with Dr. Norman, Hannah, Jo and Emily to visit the people that Liz and I (Sarah) visited yesterday. We have a busy next couple of days, preparing for the workshop but it will be great to be able to introduce Steve and Chip to some of the wonderful people we know and love here!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jour Sept

The past two days we got a lot accomplished, but we also have been getting a lot of rest in!! So, Emily informed you that she was the only one staying on base Sunday and the rest of us were with the sisters. Lucky her!! Sunday night was absolutely unbearable. As Em had mentioned earlier we found out that the temperature the past two days was on average somewhere in the hundred teens. One of the days, I thinkTtuesday, we looked at the thermometer around 11 o'clock and it read 40 degrees Celsius which we calculated to be a little under 120 Fahrenheit....and that wasn't even the hottest part of the day!!! Sunday night we all (except Em : ) ) experienced a very new and different type of sleep. Each time we would move in the middle of the night we would feel sweat everywhere and as we would place out bodies in a new position we would just feel the sweat cleing back to our bodies as we reapplied pressure. I know it sounds really gross, but it totally was!! On average each of us probably has been showering at least three times a day because this heat is like nothing we have ever experienced before!!!

So, enough about our complaining!! Lets get to the part of the past two days that is worth some praise!! Monday morning we went out together and interviewed four amazing people, again who have amazing stories that you just have to hear for yourself! The first interview was of a couple, Albertine and Jacque, who are using two different assistant devices for their latrine that we had set up for them. They use a cement latrine seat and because of Jauq's blindness, he uses a string system in order to find the hole. Our second interview was with a wonderful lady by the name of Anastasie. She uses one of our Bidon tippers and we got some more information on the ussage of it and possible things to improve it. But, perhaps the most amazing part of the interview was being able to get more information on her oldest daughter, Martine. Jo especially got a lot out of this interview and was very intruiged by the daughter. And our third intervie was with a man by the name of Hippolyte. This was a very great experience for all of us. With the exception of Liz none of us had seen Hyppolyte but have heard stories and seen pictures of him. It was really great, with all the people but him especially, to physically be able to see what we have only been hearing about for so long.

Yesterday we got a lot accomplished, but all worked individually. Hannah and Liz had gone back to get good sleep Monday night and Emily came to join Jo and I!! Jo went with sister Alice to shadow her in the infirmary and has many stories that came from that visit! I followed sister Sophie at her sewing school and Emily went out with Marie Jean to start the surveys of the community. Overall we got a lot accomplished over the last couple of days!

Last night Jo and Liz stayed at the sisters while Hannah, Em and I stayed here! Then this morning Em and Hannah went to the sisters and interviewed them about embroidery and got more information for the brochures we want to create about them. I (Sarah!!!) stayed back and helped Dr. Norman finish up the power point for the workshop!! Yay for productivity!!!

God Bless!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Jour Catre

Ok so, the update is: we have decided (tentatively) to have 5 team members stay at the sister's each night and one stay in tominian at the guest house. That may change, but for now, it explains why you are getting an update from me! (Emily)

So this afternoon we had a lovely lunch of fish and rice, though the multitudinous bones were a bit overwhelming. I do not think it was Niger perch, which Liz and i had on the way up to Tominian- now THAT is great fish. We then all rested for a bit, which included naps, showers, and talking to Dabare about education, physical therapy, and Hilary Clinton. yep, he's a fan : ) we found out later that during these post-lunch hours, the temperature was probably around 120 degrees fahrenheit! Surprisingly, no one was too uncomfortable. We had fans and cool showers, so it really was not too unpleasant.

After our rest we drove over to Mandiakuy, where the Sister's have their convent, clinic, and school. Sister Alice and Sister Felicite gave us cold water, "shrimp chips" (kind of like the texture of cheese doodles, but they taste a bit salty or fishy), and popcorn dusted with milk powder and salt (sounds weird, but it was so addictive!). Dr Norman discussed many things with the sisters, including their work in the community, their achievements, and their partnership with different aspects of WorldVision. After an hour or so in the cool of the convent, the temperature had dropped enough for us to go out again.

We visited a man in a nearby village named Janvier, who had a stroke a few years ago. The experience was incredibly poignant, so much so that we have decided that in order to do justice to the moment the story must be told to our loved ones in person, rather than over a medium as impersonable as a blog. So make sure you remember to ask about "Janvier".

Following the interview, we dropped the 5 ladies off at the sisters, where a mouthwatering meal awaited them (all I know is that it included cake, and i was jealous). Dr Norman and I came back to the guesthouse, had some chicken with green beans for dinner, and crashed for the night.

And now, I am off to bed! as they say here, "A demain!"

Jour Trois

Bon Jour!!
Today was a very relaxing day!! We alll got up around 7:15 and got wonderful showers and yummy breakfast!! We were supposed to go to church, but the governor was in town, so church was a lot earlier than we had originally thought, so we chose to stay nd have our own devotions and church like atmosphere. After we finished devos Hannah taught us how to sing a blessing in french and we practiced so we would have it perfect for lunch!! around 11 we got to go into a local market and experience all of the culture there, it was absolutely amazing!!! We came back and had some relaxation time alont with great discussions and a visit from Dabere : ) He joined us for lunch where we showed him how great we were at singing french songs!! Now we are waiting for our ride to come and take us to the Catholic sisters. We will be there until Friday morning and have no internet access there, so we are hoping that we can figure out a way to keep you all updated still!! Dr. Norman will be here each night and a student might occasionally come back, but have no fear....you will be kept updated : )
God Bless,
<3 the team : )