All 100 Said, “To Hell With You Sahara Desert”

This was a great week. I told my development agency Man of Peace Development that I was going to double our food security impact this year.

In Mali, we normally undertake drought season drip irrigated gardening with about fifty new families each year on our four month term. This enables greater food security for about five hundred people. This is not even mentioning our water purification  work.

Loaded for bear with drip irrigation garden kits. My friend also has a huge black duffle bag on the gas tank, and another behind his back.

This morning, I was both excited and sad at the same time, as we pulled out of Sikasso to set up the last ten families in drought season, drip irrigated vegetable gardening for the term.

We cannot possibly take on any more work. We have to seal up what we have running now, and that is sad for me. Just this week we had three more women’s groups in remote camps ask for our help, but I had to say no.

I was also excited because today was the awesome day we were to surpass doubling our goal.

That is right. We hit 102 gardens today, bringing greater food security to over 1200 needy people.

Our 100th lady in the gardening program this four month term. She no longer needs a watering can.

Our 100th lady broke my heart today. I haven’t come so close to crying in a long time. She asked for our help two weeks ago and I said we would help.

I went and inspected her site today and was simply horrified at the struggle she is in for survival. Her family has to be incredibly needy, hungry- there’s no other reason for her to be doing what she has been attempting to do for several weeks now.

Here is the plot she is working on. It is fenced in, but the well is dry…. No water.

The tire is the top of the dry well.

This lady is hauling 20 liter bottles of water on her head from a well 300 meters away. She is killing herself. And some plants are doing ok, but her lettuce is wilting because  she can’t keep pace  with the huge volume of water that hand watering requires. She needs drip irrigation to reduce water usage by 80-90%.

Here she is with her head-carried water jugs, watering.

I walked into the barren and parched garden plot to see her over there in the corner trying to get a few tomatoes and some wilted lettuce growing.

She surprised me.  As I got closer, I could see she was attempting new practices such as ground cover to help retain moisture.

We teach ground cover practices to help retain moisture and encourage healthy microbes grow.

I had my translator (I work with 5 languages) ask this ethnic Ganadougou lady where she learned this practice.

“From you! I walked to the gardens you did in a nearby village and I could see the ladies were doing this cover. So I came home to give it a try.” Ganadougou lady

We all had a good giggle over her story. But she has leaves and grasses holding down moisture in the soil.

However, it’s not enough. She needs to avoid needing too much water. So we set her up with drip irrigation. She can now easily keep up with the watering.

My heart broke over this lady’s struggles. Frankly, though she was making a noble attempt, what I saw told me she was going to lose the food growing battle within only a few more weeks.

Thank God she will have some help and reprieve. She deserves it. Thank you to whoever it was that partnered to bring that one irrigation kit to Mali. She needed it.

Frankly, I’m not so proud of myself at all. I only reached my doubling goal of 100 gardens because 102 women worked so frigging hard to make a difference for their families by saying,

“To hell with you Sahara Desert, and you too, you nine months of drought. I will feed my family, even during a time when you try to tell me I cannot grow.”

I have no bragging rights at all. I’m  not even here. I’m invisible and you won’t  even see me secretly slip away back to Canada soon.

You made it happen. Thank you ladies. Bon Appétit!


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