About The Mali Assistance
The Mali Assistance Project (MAP) was founded
in 1999 to help the villagers of Foutaka Zambougou, Mali, West Africa
and surrounding areas to survive immediate crises of famine, drought
and disease, and to build a sustainable infrastructure for their
future health and economic stability.
The hard work and planning efforts of village
residents, along with financial help from donors,
has enabled the villagers to remain in their homes and avert starvation. We are planning to improve water quality,
dig deeper wells, install water purification systems, build irrigation
systems for crops, outfit a local medical facility, and expand elementary education for village children.
The Mali Assistance Project (MAP)
was founded in August of 1999 by Karen Marx and Abdoul Doumbia,
under the umbrella of Witness, a 501(c)(3) non-profit
organization founded in 1995 by Jeff Long.
1999, Karen and Abdoul traveled to Zambougou where they were welcomed
with open arms by Abdouls family and fellow villagers. Upon
examining the stores of food, it became apparent that these warm-hearted,
generous people were soon to be facing a desperate situation. Due
to a drought, compounded by a flood, which washed away the fields
of planted seeds, Abdouls family and the villagers were soon
to be out of food.
Abdoul and Karen returned to Mali in October of
1999 and purchased 33 tons of food in the town of Segou, including
55,000 pounds of millet, 5,500 pounds of peanuts, and 5,500 pounds
of beans. Four huge trucks were rented and driven 4 1/2 hours through
mud and flooded-out roads to arrive in the village of Foutaka Zambougou.
There are 81 families in the village, with some families having
as many as 35 members, totaling about 2200 residents. The timing
was critical, in that the villagers had rationed food for some time
and had not eaten anything in four days. Without our assistance,
the people of Zambougou, most likely, would have perished. The amount
of food purchased would provide 6.88 oz of food per person per day
for three months.
Chief, the Marabou (spiritual leader), and the elders of Zambougou
determined the procedure for distributing the food. Each family
came forward with their donkey and cart, loaded their 100-kilo bags
of food, and transported it to their dwelling area. (To the left
is a photo of the granaries used to store grain in the village.)
In the afternoon, a grand celebration took place
with drummers, a griot singer, and about 200 women and
men from the village dancing (with Karen joining them).
from all over the United States, from Europe, Canada, South America and even from
Australia and South Africa. With their initial success, MAP began
work on future projects.
primary wells in the village of Foutaka Zambougou have nearly dried
up, with only several feet of muddy water at the bottom of each
well. Rainwater collected in a swamp area feeds into one shallow
well. The animals use this swamp for drinking and bathing. With
sheep, goats, and donkeys going into this swamp, the contamination
issue is beyond imagination. This is the primary source of drinking
water for the people in the village. It is no wonder that many people
are ill and half of the children die before the age of five, usually
from diarrhea from contaminated water. Women collect some water
for their families by walking five kilometers to the village of
Tesserela, with a large calabash shell on their heads, to carry
water back to the village of Zambougou.
what this means to the villagers to have so little water
is dreadful. They have only muddy water to drink; a limited amount
of contaminated water with which to cook; and very little water
to bathe babies, children or adults. Mothers do not have diapers
for the babies but use rags. Water is needed to wash these rags
and the babies.
The dry season begins mid-October. The swamp and
the wells will become totally dry around the end of February 2003.
Crops failed again due to the current drought
and the villagers will soon be out of food. There is no possibility
of help from the Mali government. MAP is the only source of help
to which the village can turn.
A second famine relief effort was made by Karen Marx and Abdoul Doumbia
in January of 2003. They purchased 37,400 pounds of millet and rice
in Segou and delivered them to the villagers. During the trip, MAP
was able to determine solutions for the lack of water and need for
new wells. $27,000 is required to fund the digging of new wells. We
researched and documented the resources needed to create a functioning
school for the village. To read the full report of this visit, click
Doumbia is a Master Drummer from Mali, West Africa. He was brought
to the US in 1992 by Brown University to teach in the African music
and dance department. He now teaches and resides in Boulder, Colorado.
Abdouls home village in Mali is Foutaka Zambougou. The Bambara
people in Zambougou are proud, hardworking, trusting, and welcoming
people. They want to do everything they can to help themselves.
Karen Marx has been a djembe drumming student
of Abdouls since 1998. She has had the opportunity to travel
to Mali six times with Abdoul. Karen began studying African drumming
in 1995. She has played African marimba for 8 years with
the band Chimanimani Zimbabwe dance and trance music.
Karen is an interior designer and the owner
of Marx Interiors in Boulder since 1981.