Blew A Tire And Discovered Mali Has “Roadside Assistance”: It’s called friendship and Community

Mali is supposed to be the “least developed” country on earth.  However, they have roadside assistance that extends all the way into the deep bush. It is called “F & C”; friendship and community. Mali has friendship and community down.

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” (Albert Camus)

This quote used to sound so corny to me. But as I get older, it seems to make more sense. Having been in an organization that is more and more deeply going down the “leadership professional guru” path, and trying to put that on me, I had to stand up and say I don’t want to be your leader. A friend, a helper, a mentor (not a dictator) who asks, have you considered? or, what are you seeing and hearing right now? Not a person who is quick to direct people into my affairs, versus discovering their own affairs.  Please, if you find some things I say helpful, come alongside a while, but for heavens sake don’t follow me as a leader.

Abou was my friend yesterday. He is normally just my mechanic, but he is more than that; he is also my friend. I got about 10 km from my house, across town, about two km on the outskirts of town, then down a dirt road…. and about 1.5 km in the bush I blew my knobby back tire. I had a friend riding with me and when the  bike started wiggling,  I slammed on the brakes and brought the motorcycle to a halt.

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” (Oprah Winfrey)

I still had cell reception, so I called Abou and asked if he could come with a new tube, pump and tools to get my back wheel off for the repair. It took an hour, but he arrived, and we got the tire fixed. I would have had a two hour push back to town if not for Abou. Not only did he save me from heat stroke in the hot sun, he also saved my day’s village work. We were able to keep on going and get those 27 drip irrigated garden inspections completed after all.

Abou saved not only my day, but my cold loving Canadian hide. He has tuned my bikes since February 2011.

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities” (Stephen R. Covey)

I have a friend who walks by my side when I need help, comes out into the bush to bail me out with a single call, and another friend who will ride the bus with me, who doesn’t give a hoot about the limo neither of us will ever own.

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