Mali is one of the poorest nations on the earth. The people are mainly subsistence farmers who survive on $1 a day. Women work very hard to collect water and firewood, often carry these long distances. They care for the children and cook the meals without the benefit of electricity. Most activities are conducted outside on the dirt. The women crush the millet (grain) in a large wooden mortar and pestle to cook for every meal. Men and women plow and tend by hand one or two acres on which they grow millet, corn or peanuts. Women and some men have gardens during the dry season to sell vegetables and fruit at the market. In our area, transportation is by foot, donkey cart, bicycle, and occasionally motorbike.
All of Medicine for Mali’s programs work to improve the health, economics, and education of the people in a remote, forgotten section of Mali where people are extremely poor.
The medical clinics improve the health of the villagers. By partnering with Malian nurses, students, and physicians in the clinics, we are able to exchange information and techniques to the benefit of all. Medicines are donated to Gabriel Touré Hospital in Bamako and several orphanages.
We have held training for the village “midwives” which increases the likelihood of safe deliveries and healthy babies. Nurses have been trained in childhood diseases and safe delivery techniques, such as when to refer a woman to the district hospital. This hospital is many hours away so that increased knowledge in the villages is very important.
Health volunteers have been trained on childhood diseases, immunizations, nutrition, and the importance of prenatal visits and postnatal care. These volunteers then hold village meetings where they share this information with village women and men. In this way, the populace is informed and educated to make use of the improved medical services.
The economics of the people are improved with Medicine for Mali’s Micro-finance loan program. Villagers, especially women, are given loans for small enterprise ventures. More money is circulated in the villages which benefits many people. It has been shown that women will spend money earned on their families. Therefore, there is more money available to pay for health care. The loans are for one year. Five percent interest is charged to cover the cost of managing the loans.
Two tractors have been donated to Medicine for Mali. These tractors will increase the productivity of the farmers who farm by hand and occasionally hire bulls to plow their fields. The people are subsistence farmers. Being able to plant more land will improve the amount of extra crop that they are able to sell.