Water changes everything, and access to clean water creates a ripple effect of positive impact across whole communities.
Read about Dr. Greg Allgood's latest trip to Mali, where World Vision Mali's water team just provided their 1,000th water well since 2003!
I’m on my first visit to Mali – a land-locked country in West Africa. While it’s one of the poorest countries on the planet, there’s a lot more commerce than you might expect, and the streets of the capital of Bamako are packed with people commuting to work on motorcycles.
We’ve all seen the reports on CNN of the war in the northern part of Mali, but the vast majority of Mali is now safe. Even the war didn’t sidetrack World Vision Mali’s water team, and they recently met their target for providing the 1,000th water well since their program started in 2003.
We visit one of the slums and see the people who pick through garbage to salvage metal and then create things from it – everything from watering cans to plows. While I marvel at their industriousness, I’m saddened by the children who are pressed into labor.
On a more upbeat note, we visit with Albina Kone, who is a testimony to faith. Albina was struck with polio when she was only two years old, and the disfiguring disease resulted in her leg being bent behind her. Despite this, she volunteered to help World Vision and Messiah College develop innovative ways for disabled people to access water and toilets.
On a previous trip, one of our donors was touched when he met her and funded 3 surgeries to straighten her leg. Albina radiates love and compassion, and all of our group are touched by her faith. She thanks World Vision and her donor and says she always knew that her faith in God could be an inspiration to other people. Indeed we feel this.
Daniel Maizama – World Vision Mali’s leader for water, sanitation, and hygiene – is our host and takes us about five hours north of Bamako to the rural areas near the city of Bla. One of the older students at the school makes a speech to celebrate the opening of the new well, and we celebrate with one of our donors, Eric Wolford, and Larry Probus, CFO of World Vision USA.
We visit an area where World Vision is using an innovative approach for manual drilling of water wells that is part of a collaboration with Water4. A team of 6 people can drill a well at about 1/10th of the cost of drilling a well with an expensive big drilling rig. This approach works well when the water table is relatively shallow.
We’re in a part of Mali that has a shallow water table, even though you wouldn’t know it by the arid land. This low-cost approach has the potential to transform communities by providing easy access to water for drinking and irrigation.
The parched and dusty soil has been transformed into a lush garden because of the Water4 pumps. Women are using these new gardens to establish a healthy business selling onions and tomatoes as well as providing a variety of other vegetables for their families to eat, including okra, lettuce, and sweet potatoes. Aminata Malle tells me that her group sold 39 tons of onions last year, and the income is lifting the community out of poverty.
One of our team members, Sam Jackson, is so excited by what we’ve seen that he decides to celebrate in the water with a little impromptu self-baptism. The Malians don’t quite know what to do with Sam’s antics, but they also enjoy the clean water provided by the new water wells.
Our last stop on our field visit is with a community that has a new well as part of the 1,000 water well effort. Fatoumata Coulibaly is in the 6th grade and is a World Vision sponsored child. She tells me that the new well has made her life easier since she now has water much closer to the school and so doesn’t spend as much time fetching water.
Fatoumata’s dream is to be a teacher, and the letters from her sponsors in the U.S. give her continual encouragement that she can achieve her dream. She’ll go to secondary school next year to continue her education.
Back in Bamako, I go with one of our donors, Jay Welker, to visit a child that his family has sponsored for several years. When Jay agreed to accompany us to Mali to celebrate the opening of the 1,000th well, he didn’t initially make the connection that we’d be in the same area as his sponsored child.
It’s heart-warming to see Jay interact with Assa and her family. She’s shy, but once she warms up to us, it’s clear she’s a smart girl. Her brother brags that Assa excels at biology, and then she tells us that she wants to be a physician.
I’m struck by the many positive ripples that our water work is having in Mali, whether it’s helping give hope to Albina in her struggle with Polio, fueling the dreams of children through our child sponsorship, or turning the desert into a lush garden and lifting a community out of poverty.
Thank you World Vision Mali for having such a transformational impact on the lives of thousands of people!
Help transform the life of a child, a family, a community! Sponsor a child in Mali today.