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103 Degrees!

With departure approaching, I've started to dig into some of the last details of this trip.  Here's a few things I've learned:

 First, Bamako this time of year is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime.  I don't know about you, but for me that's hot!  Because of the desert environment, the evening temperatures drop significantly -- about 40 degrees to the mid sixties.  So, the short story here is I'm going to have to get used to some very high temps.

Second, I've come to learn that Bamako is dusty.  In fact, I've had two people now tell me that it's "the dustiest city on the planet".  Now, I'm not sure that this designation is scientifically accurate, however I'm willing to bet these folks came to this conclusion for a reason.  (One person I spoke with has an uncle that lives in Bamako and word is he has to sweep out his apartment every day because of the accumulation of sand!)

 Finally, I've come to learn that the airlines going in and out of Mali -- and most other African countries from what I gather -- are very strict about the number and weight of a passenger's baggage.  In talking with one woman who works with an orphanage in Ethiopia, the reason stems from the amount of people that seek to carry supplies and goods into these countries.

I'm living this situation on my trip: each of our group has agreed to carry in some portion of our medication supplies.  For example, I'm muling 50 pounds of children's chewable vitamins.  Besides being cumbersome, the reason the weight is not more is that two 50-pound bags is the passenger limit per ticket.  To take in additional baggage, the cost is $150 per bag, up to 50 pounds each.  At $3/pound, this is not an efficient way to ship items!  For many items, it's better for both you and the local economy to simply carry in the cash and make purchases upon arrival.


Purposeful Travel

Before making the trip, I read a wonderful book called The Mindful Traveler by Jim Currie.  In this book, Jim makes a very useful suggestion: make a list of goals for yourself before the trip starts.  The list should result from some deep contemplation about why you're taking the journey and should serve as a reference during the trip to make your experiences more intentional.  Without such goals, he points out, journeys can be overwhelming and leave one with a sense of disorientation or even failure.

For this trip, I took his advice, and developed a list for myself.  Here's what come up:

  1. See and Experience a totally different part of the world.
  2. Explore and celebrate the similarities between myslef and those I encounter.
  3. Learn something new about myself.
  4. Make a positive contribution to those I've met.
  5. Come the better understand the collective consciousness we all share.

While this list may not be right for you -- in fact, I hope your list comes from your own contemplation! -- I do hope that reading mine inspires some thought and encourages you to make your travel as intentional as possible.


Only One Spot Left

Just got news that we've had one new team member sign on to the journey.  That leaves only one spot left.  If you have any interest, do let us know quickly.

(If you can't make Mali, but have an interest in this kind of travel, stay tuned!  We'll likely have several new journeys to announce in the near future!) 


Join the Team!

mm-1sm.jpgThe March 2008 trip is firming up and we've determined that adding two additional team members would be ideal. If you're looking to participate in a magical journey of transformation with a very interesting group of people, then perhaps this is your chance.

If you'd like more information about the trip, please send an email using the contact from on this site. We look forward to hearing from you.


MMFC in Mali

photo_who.jpgAnother fine NGO we know is Medical Missions for Children (MMFC). MMFC is dedicated to providing quality surgical and dental services to poor and under-privileged children and young adults in various countries throughout the world as well as facilitating the transfer of education, knowledge and recent innovations to the local medical communities.

MMFC is active in Mali right now, preceding us with their work by about four months. Word is they are doing great work and enjoying being there to do it. Here's the latest report from MMFC's President who's in the field right now.

Greetings from Bamako. The team arrived here last night after 6 months preparatory work for the trip. We lucked out by having an American intern doing her premed outreach work in Mali. She has done a superb job, along with her fiancé, in coordinating the team’s work, patient screening, etc. We saw 110 patients today and we have 43 booked for surgery during the coming 5 days. The oldest cleft patient is 59 years old. Quite a large number of older patients who did not have the financial means to be operated on until now. We also have shipped and donated an anesthesia machine to the Gabriele Toure Hospital. The local staff is cooperating very nicely with our team and has been very helpful. On behalf of MMFC, I would like to thank you for all your help.

Take the time to learn more about MMFC and how to support them.