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Mali, one of the poorest nations in the world, has suffered droughts, rebellions a coup and a 23 year military dictatorship. But since 1992 its 13.8 million citizens have enjoyed a democratically elected government. It has been praised by the U.N. Food Organisation for the efforts it makes to feed its people and find them work. This is in spite of the nationís main product of cotton, suffering from the effects of the heavy subsidies of US cotton on the world market.

Mali is landlocked in sub-Saharan West Africa, sandwiched between Mauritania on the west, Niger to the east, Algeria to the north and the Ivory Coast to the south.

It has been praised for its democratic reforms and economic policies by The World Bank and International Monetary Fund. But in spite of all these efforts life is very hard and the health and well being of its citizens suffer from the lack of basic primary health care. Infant mortality rate is high, owing to malaria and diarrhoea. Promotion of good basic health care and hygiene is urgently needed. Our Methodist Relief and Development Fund has established a partnership link with Jeunesse et Developpement, a grass roots organisation in Mali. This seeks to provide village clinics and basic health care programmes, together with an inoculation scheme.

Our Circuit Meeting in March agreed to support the Mali Project. The launch took place on 13 May at The Ridge Church. Isabelle Carboni, W.Africa Secretary for MRDF gave an illustrated talk, a group of African musicians sustained the evening and a meal was shared. This project continues for a year, concluding in June/July 2007 with a final circuit event. During the year churches in our circuit will hold different events to raise awareness and funds for this worthy and urgent project.

All money raised for the project will be spent at grassroots in Mali and be monitored by MRDF. Please lend your support to our efforts as a circuit to make a difference in one of the poorest nations on Godís planet.

Graham Hawley
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