Volunteer trip in Kalana

Mar. 17 | 2017

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Common Pastures volunteers Jake Holmes and Mitchelle Makanjoula, in partnership with Live your Dream Mali, worked together to produce this video, which highlights their activities at Kalana, Mali (January 2017). Some of their activities included providing classroom instruction, visiting a traditional gold mine, and cultural sharing.


Mitchelle and Jake worked both separately and as a team. Both assignments focused on helping farmers, professionals, and students understand and implement best practices, improve management of their cooperatives, and set appropriate goals to increase productivity. This included trainings focused on specialized marketing that explored more profitable methods to help young adults and farmers increase their confidence in their own ability, explore entrepreneur opportunities and to create collaborative projects with profit potential.


Interactive workshops include:


The Pitch Challenge: Participants were asked to break into groups to create a pitch presentation by identifying a social problem which occurs within their community. They were then asked to define the problem, state why the problem is occurring, state the history of the problem, and develop a possible solution to the problem, including what resources are needed, how to collaborate and include community members (i.e., encourage civic engagement), what obstacles may occur and how to execute their solution successfully. Young adults especially were enthusiastic participants but even the elders joined in.


Agricultural Production Preservation: In the second workshop, participants were taken through some training and shown techniques on how to preserve overproduction of crops such as tomatoes, fruit and peppers. These preservation techniques include using extra produce that would otherwise go to waste for pickled chili, fruit preserves and tomato sauce. Participants were also informed on the importance of livestock nutrition and vaccinations, and a varied and balanced diet, along with surveillance and preventative health practices.


Separately, Jake worked with young adults, building on skills to enhance their community citizenship, volunteering, networking and future career skills. This included young adults at the Conservative Balla Fasseke Kouyaté, University of Ségou, Institute of Agro-Sylvo Pastoral Bougouni, and the Lions Club International. The Lions Club held a Lions Fight Hunger Week during his assignment. This provides a supportive environment for young adults to take pride in working in their communities and to make contacts. This model could be expanded to the technical schools to encourage young adults to make contact with professionals in their chosen fields and to build a culture of civil service. Although the technical schools have few resources, these activities can be done at a low cost and provide an opportunity for others to see the good work of the schools and to perhaps become involved.


A drum circle was formed for the closing ceremony at 2:34 featuring a Sogo Ni Kun (acrobatic dancers) and the Sigui dance (masked duo representing the animalistic buffalo spirit of the community). We are grateful to our volunteers and partners in Mali for all of their hard work on these important and collaborative assignments.