In Mali, the long dry season means no rainfall for nine months of the year. The rainy season had just finished and we could see that the micro dam had done its job catching and retaining rain water that could be now used throughout the dry season.
Our first visit was to a village called Banankoro Djitoumou. Upon arriving, we were warmly welcomed by the whole village who presented us with some beautiful gifts. These gifts were some of the various vegetables, fruits and nuts that local farmers had grown. The atmosphere was unlike anything I had ever witnessed before. Everyone was smiling, singing and clapping their hands while the children ran around playfully. The local villagers were excited to show us all they had accomplished since the implementation of a micro dam by Islamic Relief. In Mali, the long dry season means no rainfall for nine months of the year. The rainy season had just finished and we could see that the micro dam had done its job catching and retaining rain water that could be now used throughout the dry season. The eighty four famers of Banankoro Djitoumou, working on thirty hectares of land had now been able to double the amount of tomatoes, avocados, rice, peppers, corn, guavas and cucumbers grown, thanks to the micro dam. The second village we visited were also in the process of constructing their own micro dam. Islamic Relief has provided some of the local men with the training, materials and tools to enable them to be involved in the implementation of the micro dam, hands on. Shortly after witnessing this, we were taken further up into the village to see a solar powered borehole which had been funded by Islamic Relief Ireland. The borehole was pumping clean, safe drinking water gathered from a source of ground water 60 meters below the earth’s surface to various taps in the village. The impact this project had on over 1,200 people living there was evident. Local women who used to spend much of their days walking in the blistering heat to fetch water for their families now only had to walk for a few seconds to have access to clean water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and farming. The locals then brought us to see the village mosque, which also had a tap in front of it so worshippers could benefit from it by making ablution. After seeing the impact these water projects are having on the daily lives of our brothers and sisters in Mali, it gave me a powerful insight as to how important water really is, and how much I had taken it for granted my entire life. It is the source of life and without it, every living thing ceases to exist. Although the progress and development made by these communities over the past few years has been immense, it was also plain to see how great their needs were. Their basic physiological needs have now been met, Alhamdulillah. Each and every village chief appealed for further support from Islamic Relief. A lot more work needs to be done to further the empowerment of these communities by providing them with educational & medical services. Unfortunately, many of the children I met are not receiving an education. The lucky few who are, have to undertake long arduous journeys on foot, under the blistering heat of the sun to reach their nearest school. A lack of medical, maternal & transport facilities also means that the sick, the injured and expecting women going into labour have no choice but to walk tens of kilometres to receive medical attention. Regardless of the fact the needs were huge, the amazing villagers of Mali were the warmest, welcoming & the most content people I have ever met. They continuously expressed their gratitude to Allah (swt) and to Islamic Relief for the life changing projects implemented in their villages. They were so overjoyed just to be independent, self sufficient and no longer in need of the help of others. By the will of Allah (swt) Islamic Relief has helped to lift these people out of poverty, restore their dignity and given them justice. All praise is due to Allah (swt), the most gracious, most merciful.