I was in Congo recently, a village about four and half hours from Bamako where we work with around 100 subsistence farmers (farmers who rely solely on farming for their primary income but lack access to markets and buyers to really make a sustainable profit). I was talking to one of my colleagues who recently travelled to cote d’ivoire (Ivory Coast) and it was his first time travelling outside of Mali. He is almost 30 years old and has never left this country. He told me about how green Ivory Coast seemed, and how he went to the ocean every day while he was there and got to swim in the ocean for the first time. We bonded over how beautiful, and magnificent, and powerful the ocean is and so I had to ask: “would you ever consider moving to the Ivory Coast?” He quickly said no because his friends, family, and friends are here and he would have to start over. He rambled on about how much he liked to see another country, how exciting it was to see how many resources, and how much activity is going in Abidjan. Very seriously he then said, “Frankly, it’s as if God forgot about Mali – we have nothing and Ivory Coast has so many things to offer.”
I was stunned and didn’t know exactly what to say. Mali is the best “hardship post” you could ask for. It has a beautiful people group, and on the day to day people do not need to feel afraid. But things are hard here – it’s hard to farm, it’s hard to earn a living, it’s hard to get a quality education, it’s hard to access services and goods, it’s hard to get around. It’s just hard.
I’m lucky to be doing some work that directly helps people whether it’s my colleagues or rural farmers, but we are all really working towards something better in hopes I guess that God remembers us or things get better.