Posted by: Diema Village Ventures | June 3, 2012

This seasons visits to Europe for Village Ventures.

Over the past Twelve years of trying to assist in the Poverty Alleviation Programme in Diema, Mali. West Africa, is no mean feat, its tough, its rough, hard to be there, harsh winds, with sands of the Sahel region beating ones face at times. Then to see the suffering of its people ,no food,many with no clean water, sparce and meager living conditions, not an easy task, but to have opportunities to support in simple ways, give hope and encouragement is a great priviledge.

After 7 months working in the town, feeling a little deprived of the “basics” of the West, I flew into London, luckily it was the day before the Crisis began, when the borders were closed..What a blessing for me.

What a disaster for the Country..

I can only pray that the good men who are standing as candidates for the the Presidency assist in conducting the Elections fairly, when the time comes,
so that a New President can be supported by all and Govern well.

Mali has been a good example in the past to many other African Countries, and it would be a major catastrophy for the people and surrounding countries if this situations continues for any length of time.

Already we have seen South Africa pull out of a major Sugar programme in Bamako, what a massive blow to all, we have seen all tourists fleeing from the country. Locals having to leave Tombouktu.

Even, I cannot venture back for the time being, although I have projects ready to start in September, when I do plan on driving once more overland, returning to try and assist with the Development so needed in Diema.

Since flying out of Mali, life has been extremely busy, hence the reason for no Blog updates.

Now there is a little time, a short break in the busy schedule to fill you in with our activities both in Europe and in Mali..

Let me begin with our latest projects in and around the town.
Village Ventures set up a programme in February/March 2012 to Feed the children who beg daily on the crossroads of Diema. Its been difficult to watch the situation and find alternative ways to allieviate this suffering.

We have children from the age of 5/6 to 16 who have to leave their own villages to come into the towns to learn the Koran. The host families themselves have little money making it impossible to feed extra mouths.
So we decided to encourage the children to come to village ventures centre, firstly to have chance of a little recreation, the game the world knows as Football. they love it, we give them a football and they play for an hour or so and afterwards, thanks to support from many, we are able to provide a simple rice and sauce meal 3 times a week, for up to 30 young people..it isnt much but its a begining and we hope, an example to others.

We pray we can continue with this programme next season. Photographs of the children can be found on this website.
Salihou,is Village Ventures chief when I am not in the town, he gives me updates on how our programmes are moving forward on a regular basis.

Each school in the town now has a laptop, but we still encounter problems due to the fact that there is no electricity in any of them, we are encouraging each Principle to buy an Internet connection then we, in turn are trying to provide them with a small solar panel, just enough to fuel the computor, giving them the opportunity, we in the West already have, to broaden their knowledge by having access to Internet and world knowledge, allowing them growth and development. We also aim to set up links between schools in Diema and others in Europe, but this takes time, as even many of the Principles of our schools had no understanding of computors when we began this programme.

We also had major problems late last year and through January and February when none of the schools were open due to strike action taken by teachers..It was a very tough and difficult time for all. Thankfully all students are back studying and we hope to see our laptops programme move forward.

OLPC in the US donated 2 childrens laptops last year, but due to the strike action it was impossible to start the programme until March. the Principle of the school we chose to spearhead this project is Eric Diako and the school is situated 25 kms from the town of Diema. we chose Eric for his great enthusiasm, not only for his role within the school but for his seriousness to help see children develop their own skills and talents.

He is very excited about this project and we are grateful to him for all he does to support our development programmes in our area. We will keep you updated as the programme develops..

Now to my travels in europe this year..

Unwittingly, Ryanair are supporting my programme in Mali, because I am able (if I book early enoug )to buy cheap flights enabling me to visit countries and talk on the projects and programmes we have and want to develop.
This season I had to go to Italy. I was able to do a TV interview as well as radio and we had a small piece in the local news paper of Sestre Levante on the talk I gave at the local Mayors office.
Whilst in Italy I also visited a small fishing village, where two bikers(guys who came on Motor bikes) lived, who had visited us in Diema and via an organisation named www. Bambinisneldeserto.org. I met with some of their friends, who hope to come along toward the end of this year( depending on the situation in Mali) of course.
During that same visit the Director of that organisation wanted to meet with me and came down from Rome to discuss some of our project proposals, he had heard that Village Ventures was working well with in the community of Diema and wants to support us, and possibly set up a twin town programme at some later date..that would be wonderful.. We need all the help we can get..
I visited with others who had been to Mali and they too say they plan on returning later this year..all I can hope is that things get better in Mali..
Next, I went to Ireland where I visited a very good friend and whilst there prepared all of my art work, photographs and villageventures cards. The price seems to be the best in europe.for colour copies..if you know better we need to know.please..
From there I flew directly to Budapest, where, for the past 3 years, a Car Rally has travelled overland (the website is www.budapestbamako.org) I encouraged the director of the Rally to come via Diema.as we needed more assistance than in Bamako. Now they come and normally arrive around the last few days of January..we cannot thank them enough for the great support they give to our town..Lets pray it continues..
During this past visit I was asked to give 4 different radio interviews and on my last evening was invited by the African Hungarian Union (www.AHU.hu) to a function they hold yearly for all the Embassadors of many African countries based in Hungary. It was wonderful. This year has also been very tiring and I am not finished yet. Right now I am in Holland with a friend who decided to share his IT skills with us and help us to bring our website up to date. So we are working hard on trying to create a site that has lots of good information including news, weather, videos and place for you to comment.
I believe we now have a living website with lots of interactive additions and we hope you like it, and continue to support us. In a few days I will be driving to Maastricht where I give a talk and collect small medical kits for some of our women and then drive on down to Spain where amongst other preparations I hope to rest briefly before heading back on the dusty road once more.

You can find links to all of the organisations mentioned on our website..and I promise to keep you updated should I get any news on the situation in Mali before you do..Thankyou once more and a special thaks to all my Angels who make it possible for me to continue this programme… for others less fortunate than we.
During the next few weeks I will do a blog on what projects are in the pipe line this next season..


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