When A Malian Says, “You Will Pity Them”

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What are we about to see?

“Another irretrievable day has passed, and all I’ve done today is work for money.” (Cliff Vogh)

My friend eloquently encapsulated one of the worst fears of my life. That working for money would become my daily routine and purpose. I have little comprehension how people work in cubicles, or the like. Punching a clock from nine to five for anyone would grate on my soul. I get it, it is the life of most. I’ll take the chaos we call humanitarian work, and the unknown daily outcome we call commercial fishing over that any day.

As my dad put it, “It’s worth making $25,000 a year less to have the freedom to be your own boss.”

As much as I enjoy working in West Africa, I can’t even begin to tell you how overwhelming it all is for me some days. Being the only worker for our agency, not only in this region, but in this whole country, has it’s days.

Once again my villagers have somehow managed to pace themselves in such a manner so as to perfectly assure that everyone, and everything, begins all at the same time. My first month on the  project consisted of a lot of meetings, and waiting for dates to be set, and action to be taken.  Here we are again, everything exploding all at once.  Africa takes her time, and she does not like being pushed, but  when she moves you better be ready to move with her, fast. We will be running crazy for the next two months.

Three long difficult bush trips on the Motorcycle have fallen on me  this week.  Waves of stuff coming at us. Water purification training for a remote village to provide pathogen free water for children.  Thirty gardens to inspect this week,  and we may be adding 15-30  families and gardens to that program, depending on the progress I see out there this week.

Also preparing for the future direction of Man of Peace Development‘s work, we are looking ahead two years down the road, and we have a research trip into a remote area where my poor Malian friend,  and guide, whom I pity, says to me;

“Andy, you need to prepare yourself before we go into that region, it’s bad, you will pity them.” – Salifou

We are working in the least developed country on earth. Salifu and I have seen some very gut wrenching situations together, so I am very taken back at his words.

Read this today…

“I judged, however, that I was in no way the right man for the place, and freely explained my shortcomings, confessing that I was wholly unacquainted with the topography of the upper mountains, the streams that would have to be crossed, and the wild sheep-eating animals…”  (John Muir. My First Summer In The Sierras.)

As overwhelmed as I feel today, at least I am not in a cubical, or working for only money.  I get to be on the front lines, working directly to help the condition of  dear, sweet, amazing fellow humans.  For this I am grateful.

As much as I don’t want to see destitute people, if I do not go and look, we cannot respond.  It will hurt, but it has to be seen.  Man of Peace Development. (Facebook Page).

I am preparing mentally and emotionally for the shock.

I know you probably don’t get it. But, some stories should not be told. I tell many stories, so you probably do not realize this, but I have seen and experienced things in West Africa that I will never write, repeat, or share.  They are too awful to relive. Such is life on the front lines.

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