Travel to Mali has not been possible for the past 2 years due to threats from terrorist organizations in neighboring Libya and Nigeria.  In November a small group ventured to Mali. From the moment we left the airport it was evident the country has been hurt by the reduction in the number of aid groups.  Some things, however, haven’t changed and Malians remain the warm and giving people we remember.

TEGEW is the HATN team on the ground. As a result of their leadership, the Mana health and maternity center is ranked #2 of 17 overseen by the regional government.  We expect to upgrade the medical staff to include a doctor with surgical skills, enhancing the center’s ability to save lives. At 25 births a month and new pre-natal care services; the maternity center will soon exceed the capabilities of 2 midwives. These busy women also provide family planning services and this is a facility for training of future midwives.  HATN has provided the local community health board with training and receives ongoing mentoring by TEGEW.

The school building is spectacular and includes latrines, a first for the village.   Our projects require community involvement and their obligation to build housing for the teachers was fulfilled.  The government cannot provide supplies and the number of teachers required for 100 kids.  HATN has provided backpacks, textbooks and supplies and the funding for two teachers.  Enrolment in grade 4 to 6 is expected to reach 150 kids and HATN will participate in teacher funding and supplies. By night, women – many of whom have never had a day of school, take steps to self-sufficiency through learning to read. Over 300 women are enrolled in HATN’s classes. This year we will include young adults who did not have an opportunity to attend school.

Phase 2 of the construction will include a small maternity center.  We had the opportunity to travel the route women currently have to traverse while in labour. Imagine 13km on a road so terrible it takes 90 minutes in a car and you may lose a bumper along the way. Now replace the car with a donkey cart or motorcycle and you’re in labour or desperately ill. Many children and mothers do not make it, or find themselves delivering their child on the side of the road. HATN is purchasing a mobile medical vehicle to provide safer access to emergency care for the entire community.  This 3-wheel motorcycle with a cab on the back will significantly improve the life expectancy for this remote community.

TEGEW launched a new program to provide local subsistent farmers with organic fertilizer. Fertilizer was provided without cost with the expectation those costs would be repaid after the harvest.  Despite a poor rainy season, crop yield was the highest on record.  Loans were fully repaid and the need to use limited cash resources on additional food supplies won’t be necessary. The community is ecstatic and we will expand the program for the next growing season.