Sunday, September 24, 2006

Trip East

This week we traveled over 1500 Km to familiarize ourselves more with the country, see the countryside landscapes, and check up on some of the work our partner organization has been doing in that region.

The road was flooded in part, which necessited a long (over 40 Km) detour in the dirt. That was good preparation for the dirt roads that would take us to the villages we needed to visit.

The meetings we had in each village were quite fruitful. It was neat to see how the community is developing.

Although most of the millet and sorghum are still green, harvest is already beginning in some places. We hope it will be a good year--even though the rains started so late.

We didn't see in giraffes, but did see lots of camels.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

6 years

Six years ago today was a very special day: we joined our lives together in marriage. It's a decision we don't regret. We keep falling deeper and deeper in love and are so thankful to have each other.

Diverse work

Our work is diverse. Many days we go downtown to our office and provide consulting to our partners, or work on the overall adminstration of our programs.

Other days we get to go out to the field to see what is happening with the people we are here to serve.

This week we enjoyed seeing a loan repayment meeting for our urban savings and microcredit program.

In addition we traveled to another village to see several experimental fields where improved agricultural methods and millet varieties are being tested to combat the terrible parasitic weed called "striga."

The village also has bore-hole and water pump that provides clean water to many surrounding villages. Thankfully, this time we didn't get stuck in the mud--and we were able to enjoy a traditional meal with the villagers and admire the great termite mounds.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

First countryside adventure

Our plane out was delayed somewhat, but eventually we arrived back and got to bed shortly after midnight.

This morning we left bright and early for village visits. A funder needed to do a site visit so we decided to tag along. The "toll road" was quite nice and had very little traffic and no potholes. We picked up some of our partner's staff along the way and then headed into "the bush." (That's taken quite literally here as we were just driving through savanna between trees and bushes, hoping our guide really knew where he was going)

Before long the car was stuck in deceivingly dry-looking mud. The group walked into the village while some of us stayed to dig the car out. Once ours got out the other one got stuck. The team and local volunteers worked hard, and eventually we all got back home again.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Goat Gymnastics

Our time in this country is ending and we should soon be back "home." The last few days have been productive but we also enjoyed a slightly more relaxed schedule. Interesting things we saw in the countryside included the grass huts (yes, some people do actually still live in them) and the acrobatic goats. When we walked by the second time it was a different kid on the wall with mom. Now that's some talent!

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Our teammates picked us up in Bamako and we then began the journey out to Selingue, where our team meeting was being held. It was raining pretty hard at times and the road was filled with pot-holes. Suddenly the tire in one of the vehicles shreded to pieces. It was an adventure changing it in the dark while it was raining. The spare didn't have much air and the pump wouldn't work so we put a tire on from the second vehicle and arrived after 10:00pm--a day later than originally planned. Despite the unexpected events, the team meeting went very well and was productive. Meetings from 8 am to 10 pm kept us so busy that Steve didn't go through too much Internet withdrawal.

Unexpected vacation day in Senegal

The plane started to descend but then took us to Senegal instead! We're not sure whether it was the lightning storm or the lack of jet fuel in our destination that caused it, but the airline took good care of us. Although we had to wait quite a while, they housed us in a nice hotel on the beach, and provided breakfast and lunch. We left the next afternoon to our original destination.