For many weeks now, I have watched the internal crisis develop in Mali and throw the country into disarray. Many sectors have been affected as the junta dismantled any leadership that governed the different bodies that make up the country. Last week, the country saw the first real sign of returning back to pre-coup time as a new Prime Minister was named. However, the damage has been done and 20 years of democracy crushed in an instant of loss of control cannot be undone as easily.
So far little has been heard from the interim President Diacounda Traoré, in terms of what he is doing to get the country back on track. His term ends in about a month and his job is to do the things that will prepare the country for elections. A big part of that job involves the reunification of Mali and regaining the three lost territories. The job of the Prime Minister is to announce a transitional government. The PM and the transitional government will govern the country till elections happen. Any participant in the transitional government is not eligible to run in the elections. In the past week, there have been many arrests of key figures by the junta with the accusation that there was a threat to national security. The next day these individuals were released as the international community and political figures in Mali spoke out. These kinds of acts add a little uncertainty as to the junta’s role. I am not saying these individuals should not have been arrested but to play this game of catch and release not only destabilizes the community but also makes the whole thing a joke. Right now, the focus should remain on the return of governmental bodies back to a semblance of normalcy. That is what Malians want above all.
Mali has paid a heavy price for the actions of the top political figures. To begin with the “old guards” that allowed Mali to be taken advantage of in return for money/favors. Then the individuals that sat back and let it happen. And finally the junta that caused enough instability and weakness that part of Mali was lost. With the coup came change. As the rebels took over the North, many fled to escape the imposition of Sharia and also the unknown. As the junta made decisions, the international community watched as to how things would work out. Embassies pulled their non-emergency people out. Schools lost many pupils and even my son’s French school has started to look like a shanty town. European stores and restaurants saw a sharp drop in customers and hinted at the reducing expatriate population. The biggest loss however was of humanitarian NGOs that were operating in the different regions of the country. With the increasing uncertainty, many NGOs departed the Northern regions.
What I would like to say is, now more than ever, is that Mali needs all the humanitarian aid it can get. Most Malians get by on less than $1/day. Most can barely even make a $1. Today, I was approached by twin boys about 6 years old that looked no older than 4 because of their size. They came to me and told me they were hungry. My first reaction, as I looked around for their mother, was why you are out here asking for money. Where are your parents? And then I realized when parents cannot provide, then all the family are forced by their circumstances to make the little they can by begging.
I would like to send a message to all the people who read this. My message to NGOs is that Mali does have a future. They need all the help they can get. Now is not the time to abandon aid or run away. Now is the time to protect your investment and trust the Malians to stand by your side as they protect it with you. My message to aid organizations is not to let Mali down. Stay! Help the people. Continue to work in the community making a difference. Our children do need schools and teachers. The women do need to learn self-sufficiency through microenterprise and that they are strong individuals who can be part of a successful Mali. The current situation has hit the common man even more as they struggle to make ends meet. My plea to the international community is to help. Help a fellow brother, sister, mother, father and family. Do not fear that your investment will be in vain. Help because you can and because it will make a difference. Support organizations like UNHCR as they help the refugees. We can make a difference as individuals. The Malian people need your help.
Continue to keep this great nation in your prayers. Pray that they may be blessed with good leaders that put Mali’s needs first. Pray that aid organizations may continue to operate helping nurse back Mali’s failing infrastructure. Then, please spread the word about Mali and how to help. Contact your local organizations and see what they are doing to make a difference.
I am very grateful for all the wonderful support we have received and continue to receive. Mali has many friends and we are grateful that there are so many out there that do care about Mali’s present so that Mali may have a future. Thank you and may God bless all your efforts.