From Here to Timbuktu

Boureima Tamboura, left, and his family were forced to flee their hometown in Dountza due to the crisis in the northern Mali. Photo: ©2013 Muganzi M Isharaza/World Vision

Boureima Tamboura, left, and his family were forced to flee their hometown in Dountza due to the crisis in northern Mali.
Photo: ©2013 Muganzi M Isharaza/World Vision

“My brothers read a little bit.
Little words like if and it.
My father can read big words, too.
~ Dr. Seuss, Hop on Pop

If you’re at all like me, you grew up with the idea of Timbuktu meaning far-away places, the ends of the earth, but didn’t realize it was an actual city in the West African country of Mali. This ancient city, at one time rich in gold and salt, a trading hub on the edge of the Sahara Desert connecting West and North Africa, and an important center for Islamist scholars, now faces grave challenges.

Recent events have put the lives of millions of Mali’s children and families on shaky ground. After a military coup toppled Mali’s democratic government in March 2012, Islamist rebels took advantage of ensuing chaos to seize control of northern Mali. An international response that included the deployment of African Union troops in November 2012 and French military intervention in January 2013 has brought the situation under control. A ceasefire was signed on June 18th, and the United Nations launched a 12,600-strong peacekeeping force on July 1st. Elections are scheduled in Mali for July 28th, although logistical problems in setting up polls and registering citizens is going to be a challenge.

Albeit important steps, the signing of the ceasefire and the presence of UN forces, do not immediately undo the disruption and suffering of the past year for Mali’s children and families. Approximately half a million people were displaced internally and across borders because of the conflict. Already facing a serious food shortage in the Sahel area of Africa, families affected by the conflict have not been able to plant crops they depend on to feed their children. It’s estimated that 3.5 million Malians are currently food-insecure. They have also lost homes and possessions.

The international community has pledged $4 billion to help Mali recover. World Vision is responding now by distributing food, kitchen utensils, soap, and other hygiene items to displaced families. As funds become available, World Vision will expand their response to include clean water, shelter, and helping families reestablish their livelihoods. World Vision’s goal is to raise $15 million dollars to help 150,000 people for six months.

World Vision has been working in Mali since 1975, but the recent conflict caused an interruption. They have now been able to resume work that includes serving over 65,000 Malian children already enrolled in sponsorship programs.

Would you please join me in praying from here to Timbuktu? Please pray:

  • – Malian families can quickly resettle, rebuild, enjoy food security, and send their children back to school
  • – Elections on July 28th will have a majority turnout
  • – Good and strong leaders will be elected
  • – Peacekeeping efforts will be effective
  • – Rebel threats will be contained

Sandy Grubb joined the Columbia-Willamette Chapter of Women of Vision in 1999. She has held a leadership role with them for 14 years and traveled on nine vision trips. In January 2013 she began serving on the Board of World Vision, U.S. Sandy lives in Vancouver, WA. She and her husband Jeff have three sons and one daughter-in-law.

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