As a result of conflict, instability, and COVID-19, more than 4.3 million Malians required humanitarian help in 2020. The COVID-19 virus has left millions in crisis of malnutrition, hunger, and starvation in Mali, particularly in the rural areas such as the Ouelessebougou region. Because many of our villages are remote, they seldom receive international assistance, but the Alliance is in a position to help them.
Because of the generosity of donors and GlobalGiving, the Alliance has distributed 260 bags of corn in our partner villages to the most vulnerable families: widows, single mothers, orphans, the isolated elderly, and displaced persons.
I can say that famine and malnutrition weakens people, particularly some children. I have seen children have a hard time sitting, walking and moving due to hunger. I believe that in every 100 families in our villages, 95% are in need of food right now.
I visited a few families in our partner villages during lunch time. I noticed that these families did not have anything to eat at all. Some children were crying due to hunger. I shed some tears on his way back to the Ouelessebougou office. Too many people are suffering.
I spoke to a woman in Tamala who shared with me how difficult the food shortage has been on her and her family. She said, “The worse thing is to see your children are crying with hunger. As a parent you do not have any food to give to them. You feel hopeless. You feel so bad that you cannot sleep at nights. Sometimes you spend nights crying and think about killing yourself. But if you kill yourself, you do not have anyone to watch your children and they become orphans. Hunger and poverty are the worst things that any children can experience. Food is everything.” And then she started crying.
THE FOOD DISTRIBUTION SAVES LIVES
Before the food distribution, the Ouelessebougou Alliance’s staff, the village health workers, village chiefs, his councils and local leaders have assessed the families who really need food assistance in their villages. Then, the villages send two representatives to pick up the corn in the Alliance office in Ouelessebougou or the Mali staff will travel to deliver some bags of corn to the farther villages. During the food distribution, the Alliance staff goes and visits each village so that they can distribute the food and ensure that the bags of corn go exactly to those people in need.
The corn is distributed in the presence of the village chiefs, the health workers, and local leaders. These events were full of gratitude and emotion. “These ten bags of corn were like ten tons of corn in my village the day we distributed to the most vulnerable people. Several people in my village go to bed without food. We are so grateful for this donation,” said Senaly, a native of N’Korobougou.
GIFT TOUCHES PEOPLE’S HEARTS
I have personally seen the emotion from the villagers. A lady from Fadiobougou told me, “If I did not receive this bag of corn today, I would have to beg some neighbors or walk several miles to beg on the streets to get some food for her three children.” She was so happy that she had a hard time expressing her emotions. She said several times, “Of Almighty thank you. Thank you, Utah Alliance. It seems like the Alliance knows that she really needs food assistance.”
In N’Korobougou, the chief told me, “We are happy to get these bags of corn. Let’s be honest, we would like to wait for the Alliance’s staff to come and distribute the corn, but we could not because people were so hungry. The day the bags of corn were delivered, some people had already went to bed without food. Even myself, I spent that day without food. As soon as the corn arrived, we distributed it to the needy families.” The ninety year old chief of N’Korobougou was one of the recipients of the bags of corn from the Alliance.
Because of the food shortage, the cost of corn is too high for many villagers. COVID-19 has increased the cost of food in Mali and many villagers cannot afford to feed their families. Djeneba from Fadiobougou said that she cannot believe that she received the bag of corn for free. She told me that she would start cooking her corn and feed her children that night because she didn’t have any food at home. “May God bless the donors!”
In Fanikodilian, a village mother told me, “You have saved our lives. Right now, in our family each married couple must feed their own children and themselves because there is no more common food for the entire extended family. Now, everyone has to feed themselves even some single mothers and widows with small children. I am going to pound some of the corn and make dinner for our children. Only God will reward people who help us in this hard moment in our families and villages. May God give you a long life.”
THANK YOU FROM OUELESSEBOUGOU
This food distribution program has been very successful. This project has been one of my favorite things to do, follow, and watch since I return to Mali and work for the Alliance. I love seeing the joy, gratitude, and emotion the recipients have when they receive the bag of corn donation. Some of them have a hard time expressing their gratitude because they really need this food for their families.
THANK YOU to all of the donors who gave to our COVID-19 Food Relief project. We are hoping to distribute more corn in 2021. You can save lives by donating. These are only a few examples of people who have been blessed by your donation. There are many more who thank you and ask God to bless you. From all of them, the Mali staff and Utah staff, we share our appreciation to you.