Posted by: kristinej | March 23, 2010

March 23rd

One thing that I really like about working for a small organization such as Project Muso is that I’m involved in all aspects of the project, and constantly have different tasks and activities.  I’ve sat in on trainings, health worker meetings, and education classes, written grant proposals, helped with financial management, written articles for our website and new annual report, and helped organize a 2 week training.  My latest activity, with Cailey on vacation in Portugal, was to help our Malian microfinance coordinator, Fatim, to hand out the new loans to our microfinance participants.  This was quite a task for her, since we have over 200 participants in 11 associations.

My job was to fill out an information sheet with each participant’s name, revenue-generating activity, and their sub-group president.  Most of these women don’t speak French, so this was a real test of my Bambara skills.  Luckily I could keep to a script: “What is your name?” “What work do you do? Or “What do you sell?” and “Who is your group leader?” Amazingly, Fatim only had to step in occasionally to help translate, and I got many praises on how well I spoke Bambara.  It was fun to see what different activities these women do – most sell things in the market, like vegetables, charcoal, or fabric, and others make bogolan, sew clothes, or dye fabric.

In one of the zones I met a woman named Fatoumata Daou, my exact name!  I shouldn’t have been surprised since there aren’t that many different first and last names here, but still, Daou isn’t that common of a last name.  Also in that zone there were several women who were pregnant, and Fatim told me that the women in that group were always pregnant, and that she told them that they need to get electricity so that they can watch TV in the evenings instead of going in the house and making babies.  I was mildly shocked that she had said that to them, but apparently it’s a common belief that rural villages have such high pregnancy rates because there’s nothing to do in the evening!  Maybe it has some truth to it, but still I’m not sure that TV is the best form of contraception!

I also went to a couple of education classes over the weekend and spent a morning talking with one of our facilitatrices, Nani (who also happens to be Cailey’s host mom.  In Mali it’s good manners to go visit someone’s family while they’re gone to show that you don’t just come by to see that one person.)  Recently our participants have been learning all about their right to fair elections and to vote: How to become a candidate, how to make an educated vote, and how to actually go vote.  In the class that I went to they did a simulation of voting day, where the participants had to show their identity card, make sure they were in the voting register, put their ballot in the box, and get their fingerprint taken.  Nani told me that she thought the lesson on how to intelligently vote was really important because (like in the US) people often just vote for whoever, without knowing much about them.  Apparently candidates even give out money to voters on election day to get them to vote for them!  Nani said that she wants her class to realize that that small amount of money they give you will only last so long, but that if the candidate doesn’t have the community’s development in mind, they won’t benefit in the long term.

I also just discovered this NYTimes travel article about Dogon Country, in Mali.  It’s pretty cool:



  1. Boy are you going to have quite the re’sume’ when you get back. Robby

    • Let’s hope potential employers think the same thing!

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