I just wanted to give you all an update on my latest adventures with Hands Across the Nations (HATN). I returned from Mali, West Africa last week after spending 2 weeks in the rural village of Mana. Our HATN Team was 8 people strong. We also had 2 Malians join our team – Fatyme & Baraye. They were both instrumental in providing translation for our Team. Fatyme has a key role with HATN Mali acting as our liaison with the village.
While in Mana, the Team worked side by side with the villagers in transforming a piece of land measuring 30 m x 23 m riddled with tree stumps and a huge termite mound into a gravity fed drip irrigated community garden. This involved fencing this land with 27 fence posts and 3 rows of barbed wire, manually ploughing the land with pick axe & dabba (a traditional African gardening tool), erecting a 1000 litre water tank (which included manually filling this water tank) and placing of the drip irrigation hosing. This community garden will enable a few locals to grow food for sustenance and sale during the dry season when water is in very short supply. If this drip irrigation system is successful, the remainder of the village will have similar opportunities to implement this system.
13 additional biosand water filters were installed (the HATN 2010 summer Team installed more than 40 biosand water filters). This involved manually sifting & washing sand, gravel & rock as well as building the filters in the huts of the compounds. Within minutes these filters were changing toxic water into clean drinkable water – it was like watching miracles happen – absolutely amazing – you would not believe the appreciation & joy expressed from those receiving a filter.
A working relationship was established between Dr. Dembele (Dr. Ogo – nickname) and the HATN health centre in Mana. Dr. Ogo is a malaria specialist offering support to rural bush hospitals in Mali – He is a professor at the University of Mali who has a large number of PhD students at his disposal. This will be such a positive connection for the village of Mana.
The HATN Team met with the First Lady of Mali to inform her about HATN’s involvement in Mana. This was a very proud moment for us…
I hope that this message gives you an indication of just some of the wonderful work HATN is doing in Mali and that you are now inspired to attend the HATN Wine and Gourmet fundraising event being held on March 23, 2011. If you attend this event, you will have an opportunity to meet Fatyme personally. Your attendance will enable the continuation of this community development work in Mali and our work in Bolivia. You too can be an agent of change – one community at a time…
Paul – HATN volunteer