Kristin's experience with World Vision in Mali

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This was my third trip to Africa and each time I return from this beautiful continent I’m struck by the same thought: people are people everywhere. Regardless of where you live and in what conditions, people have the same desires, are excited by the same things and experience the same emotions.

The people we met in Bamako, Mali, were some of the kindest and most passionate we’ve yet worked with and their passion and enthusiasm for their work was absolutely contagious. This was by far one of the most successful workshops we’ve conducted and we feel confident that World Vision will continue to make impactful and inspiring videos well into the future.

While the workshop was certainly a wonderful one and World Vision was a wonderful partner, I have to admit that I was a bit nervous before getting started.

According to the U.S. State Department, Mali is classified as a “level 4 - do not travel” country, so I was a bit concerned about conducting a workshop there. World Vision staff assured us it would be safe and provided a security briefing ahead of time, but I couldn’t help but worry the evening before my flight.

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Upon arriving at the Bamako airport, my unease was immediately lifted. Matt and I were greeted by a World Vision security officer, which was a welcome sight. The security officer transported Matt and I to our hotel, which was discreetly located off the main road in a guarded compound. After settling in, I met our main contact from World Vision who greeted me warmly in the hotel lobby. Although I was very tired from the 20 plus hour plane ride the first night in Bamako, I was no longer concerned that Matt and I would be at risk in Mali.

The workshop began on a Tuesday and was hosted in French. Fortunately, a majority of attendees also spoke English so I was able engage with them and learn more about their country and interest in video.

On the second day, we traveled to a more rural location just outside of Bamako to film the videos. The two local video trainers and I were each responsible for overseeing a group of workshop participants creating a video. I was thrilled to learn that my group had chosen to focus on the children in class for their video. My favorite part of working in the field in any project is interacting with the children who are, often, nervous around me as they have never seen a light-skinned person before.

The workshop participants were more excited and engaged than any other group I’ve witnessed. Moreover, many of the participants said they had wanted to learn how to produce video for years and were so happy to finally receive proper training and equipment.

My experience in Bamako not only reinforced my conviction that the work OMPT is doing is making a difference, not only by providing the means to produce and share videos for beneficiary communities, but also for the people we train around the world. Our workshops bring opportunity, skills and a new sense of ownership to many and they’re received with questions, joy and determination. Despite tougher conditions, they are determined to bring a better life to their communities and generations with a passion I wish all of us could experience.

Kristin HendersonComment