It’s pretty hard to believe but I’ve been in Mali for nearly six months now. I remember talking to my country director about it and the way he put it was right. Life here in Mali is like a time warp where each day seems like it lasts forever while the months just fly by. I’ve reached an interesting point in my language skills as well. I was talking to some friends on Gmail when I started typing out words in French. Since they either never took French or completely forgot it they would ask me what I just said. But the thing is here in Mali when I’m with other volunteers interjecting French into our conversations has become part of our repertoire, n’est-ce pas? I even threw in some blessings in Bambara for some people!
Now that we’ve been through our in-service training I feel like my service is going to go a lot faster. I really want to get this restaurant thing off the ground. If I can help my women’s cooperative build a restaurant I know that they will be successful. The women I work with aren’t lazy, they just don’t know what to do a lot of the time. It seems like they’re happiest when they’re working and I suppose that rings true for most Malians. Shea butter production is a lot of work but because of the different seasons in a year the women may work a few months because that’s all they can do. By introducing other income-generating activities I hope to give the women of my cooperative work all year-round. After all, I work with a women’s cooperative that has 30 different villages! If this is successful (in sh’allah) I hope to get a dairy cooperative going. We’ll see.
I spent Christmas in Bandiagarra hanging out with some friends. The power was out so we ended up cooking Christmas dinner in the dark/candles/using our headlamps, watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, then passed out. It wasn’t quite the Christmas dinner expected but it shouldn’t be a Christmas I’ll soon forget.
So what will 2010 bring? Every year around this time I try to take a sort of mental inventory and re-evaluate things but this year’s a little different. I don’t really care anymore. Screw trying to lose weight (I actually don’t have any more weight to lose even if I wanted to) or taking up some new hobby or those other played out New Year’s resolutions I make for myself but end up doing for only about a month or so. All I’m going to do is continue to live my life the only way I know how. This is kindof cheesy but I guess it’s appropriate: clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. Happy New Year’s everyone! Here’s to many more.