Young People Make a Difference
Mahatma Ghandi has told us that too often, instead of lighting a candle, we curse the darkness. Last week, Kavitha and I had the opportunity to meet with the Corps des Volontaires Maliens (Malian Volunteers' Corps), people committed to providing a light of inspiration in communities throughout Mali. There are four CVM office headquarters: Bamako, Mopti, Gao and Timbuktu. In a suburb close to our friend Dabel's house we visited the main office in Bamako.
In Mali, literally hundreds of non-governmental organizations and grassroots organizations work to better the quality of life for Malians. We World Trekkers often wonder amongst ourselves if these NGO's really do make for a better Mali. You see signs all throughout Bamako for groups, which dozens of countries sponsor, each with a particular focus point, e.g. children, AIDS, nursing mothers, clean water. However, we say out loud to each other, "If there are all these groups, how come Mali is still one of the five poorest countries in the world? Are they really making a difference?"
CVM makes a special effort to pay attention to the volunteer's growth, as well as that of the community for which the individual is working. Mr. Mahamane Baby, CVM's Director explains in the summer newsletter that the combat against poverty is "by the young people, for the young people, with the young people." Assistant Director Salifou points out a statement gracing the CVM national newsletter, "Courage! Willpower! Mobilization! That's your name...You do today the honor of this country, you are the principals in the fight against poverty."
The volunteers are soon concerning themselves with the people who have less than them. They develop the acceptance to live in difficult conditions, and form a spirit of group solidarity. When volunteers first arrive in the community "the initial shock might make them feel uncertainty and fear, but those things change in very little time." During evaluations "the shy people and the rebels disappear, and instead, one discovers responsible youth who can take care of their lives on their own; who can talk about complex issues, and who have a clear vision of their future. They become youth who won't destroy but who will engage in constructing a country that they know better and that they profoundly love."
While she spent some time in Mopti, Kavitha met Mr. Amadou Cisse, the Mopti Coordinator for the Malian Volunteer Corps. He claims that one of the strengths of the CVM program is that it "builds the volunteers so much to take them out of everything they know." He stresses the growth of the individual volunteer as one of the best parts of the program. It might even be the biggest part of someone's life, as in the case of Mahamadou Haidara, who worked as a Malian Volunteer near Timbuktu. Haidara, who specialized in metal construction, felt animated by the spirit of sacrifice and gave all his support to the fight against poverty. Tragically he fell ill with a fatal malady and died in May of 1999 in Timbuktu. He was only 25 years old.
Like the Peace Corps volunteers that Kavitha met, the Malian Volunteers usually come from big cities like Bamako or Mopti and have gone to college. When they get to a smaller village they have to learn just as much as the Peace Corps volunteers about the different way of life. The Malian Volunteers' Corps shines as an example of how young people can join in the fight against poverty, and in the process challenge themselves as human beings.
Abeja - Water, Water Everywhere, but Not Enough to Drink!
Jasmine - Not-So-Renewable Resources
Kevin - Beam Me Up, Scotty! Life in Mali
Time Machine | Multimedia and Special Guests
Home | Search | Teacher Zone | Odyssey Info