This morning these beautiful ladies came by with bananas for sale. We had them with our breakfast. Delicious! The water here at the compound isn’t running, but Anounou had a good supply saved for us. Hopefully this will get everyone through the week.
Today we traveled to the village of Bassa where the Ouelsessebougou Alliance partnered with LDS Charities to help provide a school garden with a well and a solar pump. Today the village was gathering to celebrate the completion of the project.
The drive to Bassa took about 40 minutes, much of it on dirt roads. At one point we got stuck behind a donkey cart. There wasn’t room to get around it, so we enjoyed the bumpy road and the scenery around us. It’s dry here, and dusty. The crops have been harvested. Now we will wait for the rainy season.
As we came into the village of Bassa, the first thing I noticed was the cotton harvest. We hear they had a very good harvest this year. It’s fun to see the white mounds waiting to be taken to the cotton gin in town.
Here are some harvested corn fields. Every bit of the work here is done by hand.
Bassa is one of my favorite villages. They are industrious here. They have good farms and some gardens. They make pottery and they have a sissel industry. Because of the holiday, the women weren’t making pottery and the sissel harvest is over now. Maybe next time I can show you how that’s done.
Our friends here gave us a warm welcome.
These are ovens where they roast the shea nuts.
Here is a corn grinder used by the village.
A donkey corral with feed on top.
When you go into a village, the first thing you do is pay a visit to the village chief and elders. They welcomed us and thanked us for coming. And they presented our Alliance leaders with a gift of 3 chickens.
It’s always interesting and helpful to hear their main concerns and worries and we work together to try to find ways to help. Today we were here to celebrate the completion of the garden. They were grateful.
The village chief, Anounou, our Ouelessebougou Alliance director, and John:
I looked in on the kitchen as we left the chief’s compound (you can see some of the Bassa women’s pottery here:
Mudbrick construction, woven grass mats:
From the chief’s compound, we walked over by the Koranic school by the mosque for the celebration.
The villagers were gathering to celebrate with us. They brought chairs from everyone’s compounds and lined us up for the program of song and dance (and of course, speeches!).
The dancing began!
And we joined in!
Then we all walked over to the garden by the public school. The Ouelessebougou Alliance and LDS Charities partnered to provide this beautiful garden spot where children will learn farming and gardening skills. Right now the land is fallow, after a corn crop here was harvested. Now with water, they will be able to use the land more productively and teach the children.
The garden gate:
This is a large piece of land that is hard and dry now. I can’t wait to see it after the rainy season when it’s planted and starts producing! The entire garden is fenced in to keep the animals out. Right now, the animals are enjoying the cornstalks.
The solar panel for the well:
The solar pump:
Hoses will be hooked up to the pump to send the water to the furrows. Today everyone important took a drink!
These villagers and these children’s lives will change for good because of this well.
Djiba Soumaoro (right) is one of our Alliance stars. He is from Ouelessebougou and he recently graduated from Notre Dame. He came with the expedition and will return to Ouelessebougou in July to work on site.
Very happy village elders.
Finally the children got at turn!
Then the celebrations continued!
There was more dancing and singing and drumming. This is a grand day of celebrating for this wonderful village!
This woman is the village matron. I first met her in 2012. I had a life-altering experience that day. You can read about it here: https://annlaemmlenlewis.com/2012/12/04/love-went-out-of-me/ .
It neared lunch time. The women had prepared food. We were given a huge headpan of white rice and a big pot of chicken in a peanut sauce with a few vegetables in one of the class rooms. First they brought in hand washing stations. These are colorful plastic buckets with a lid that has indentations for a plastic tea pot of water for washing and for the soap. There are holes in the lid to catch the water from the tea pot, when you soap your hands. This can be used again later. Everyone washed their hands, then the feasting began.
Our staff–Anounou, Teningnini and Boubou ate the local food out of a common big platter tray–rice with the chicken in sauce spooned over it.
Then the village elders came in and they took a large platter for themselves. What was left was loaded onto a platter and taken outside the classroom for a bunch of men out there who inhaled it. They eat every bit, bones and all.
Then the celebrations continued. All of the women (including all who had worked hard to prepare the food) were sitting under the mango trees over by the school waiting for the celebration to continue. They were not offered a bite. Only the men ate. I told the women we Loved their food and next time, when they come to Our place, we will feed THEM. They cackled at the thought of that.
More speeches. Elder Lewis thanked the village on behalf of LDS Charities, for their partnership with us and he encouraged them to use the garden to teach the children well.
Grateful village elders:
As part of the celebration, the Ouelessebougou Alliance brought a nice supply of corn–12 huge bags–to distribute among the “Internally Displaced Persons” who have found refuge in the village of Bassa. These refugee families are fleeing from the unrest in northern Mali and many have been welcomed here in Bassa by these wonderful villagers. They are sharing their land and their food. The Alliance wanted to help with that effort. We met with several of the refugee families and they are grateful to be here.
What a great day we had here in Bassa! This is a progressive village, industrious and kind. It’s always a joy to be here with them. We look forward to visiting again when the garden is planted and producing.