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Getting all geared up!

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Hello everyone!

No, we haven't left for Mali yet, we just thought we'd try out this new travel blog (so no, you're not going crazy, we have switched sites to a more reliable one). Anyway, I thought this would be a good opportunity to tell you all what we expect to be doing during our 8 weeks in the village of Nana Kenieba, Mali (plus our 8 days in Morocco).

While there, Ben will be completing his public health practicum focusing mainly on permethrin-soaked mosquito netting, useful in preventing malaria infection. Mariel will be doing some unstructured research for her senior honors thesis in International Studies (Global Health) and working on a variety of things. We'll both do work on the mosquito nets (or bed nets) project. The plan for that one is to get the bed nets to some local women's groups, who will distribute them to people in their village, especially children and pregnant women. Another project we're talking about doing is a demographic survey, where we just find out about people's families, what people have died from, how many babies they had, etc. There may also be a nutrition study, which sounds particularly interesting, where 2 villages that are virtually the same are compared because one has a lot of malnourished people, while the other does not. Mariel might also work on a survey regarding cooking/stoves in the village, which could help out Mark's work there. We have also talked about working on repairing some latrines. There has also been mention of us doing some basic health education, which Mariel is especially excited for. But to sum it up, we are looking at lots of different public health projects that could use help, and we're going to be doing whatever we can while we're there.

As for general background on the area of Mali where we're going, most of the people are Muslim, though Mali is a secular state (not Islamic). Women do not wear headscarves or the full-body outfits typical of the Middle East, though. Modesty is expected, but it comes differently: women must cover their legs down to about mid-calf, but shirts are optional. Women typically seem to wear long skirts and tank tops. Men are pretty free of rules, and it looks like they stick to loose-fitting semi-Western style clothing. They mainly eat rice and millet with sauces, especially peanut sauce, and it sounds like we will be eating meat often, though most Malians don't. We will have a cook there who also does laundry, and a translator. Ben has taken intensive French and been studying it a lot, too, so he knows a fair share of that. He's also begun to study the local language, Bambara. Mariel, on the other hand, has been pretty busy with the MCAT and applying to medical schools, and knows very little French (si, non, oui...) and no Bambara... maybe Spanish will come in handy? Another thing we've been busy learning is how to ride a motorcycle, as the organization has a small one there for us to use. Once again, Ben outshines Mariel at this so far, but we both have plenty of time to learn on the ground. 100_2779_JPG_-_2.jpg

Well, now anyone who reads this knows about as much as we do about the whole thing. We're very excited and can't wait to tell you more!

Posted by vagabundos 13:20 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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