Asalamu Alaikum! I am back from Mali Alhamdullilah, and I am so happy to be sharing my trip experiences with whoever reads this. I am sorry I have not updated at all yet, I’ve been asked about it and finally here is some of what I have been doing in Mali. Because this will be read by my friends and such, I made it a day to day account of my personal journal. But in reality, there is so much more to it, and many others have written much better blogs about this campaign.
Here is where you can find better information:
(and I will post some press releases towards the end of the blog)
Also, I want to thank Asma for allowing me to be her guest blogger, what an honor. J (Asma is wonderful Mashallah I hope you all regularly read her blog).
Saturday December 8th-Sunday December 9th, 2007
I left St. Louis with butterflies in my stomach. This was my first international trip alone, and my first trip to West Africa. MSA National was invited by Malaria No More to attend this first ever interfaith delegation during such a large campaign. The campaign was done by the Government of Mali and Malaria No More and over 22 NGO’s around the world to reach 95% of the people around Mali in an effort to halt Malaria and provide other necessary health intervention items including measles vaccine, Vitamin A, Polio vaccine, and a de-worming pill. I will include more of the facts on Monday’s journal.
I was driven to JFK from Laguardia, and the driver actually knew about Mali so he gave me some tips and exciting facts. I hurried over to Air France, got my boarding pass, did not check in any luggage, gave Sara Beg a “fun call,” and got on my plane. It’s hard for me to generally say this because I usually do not notice it, but I felt like everyone on the plane was looking at me. Maybe it is because I had two annoying handbags and I clumsily made it to my seat, or because I was wearing two hoodies over a long coat which looked a bit weird. To top it off, someone was sitting in my seat and she did not speak English. I kindly showed her my boarding pass and wondered if the airline made a mistake. The stewardess then looked at the woman, and turns out the woman’s seat was in 26 but she accidently sat in 28. No problem, I offered to sit in seat 26, and she said “Merci Merci,” and I did not mind if people were staring at me anymore.
At the Paris airport, I tried to find my way around, only to realize that my flight is in 10 hours. I took a shuttle to another section of the airport, and I tried to seek help from an African man, (secretly hoping he was also going to Bamako), only to realize he needed help finding his gate. I pointed him in the right direction and as he got off the shuttle, called out “Asalamu Alaikum.” I’ve heard the French do not like to speak English, so I tried to teach myself basic terms, but they have all been so friendly and have spoken with me in English, silly me walks off saying “Gracias” then quickly correcting myself to “Merci.”
I tried to sleep for a long time, but kept waking up from the cold. I walked around, bought myself Prince Cookies for lots of Euros (btw those are a lot stronger than the dollar now!), and saw all these Muslims lined up for some reason! HAJJ!!!!!!!!!! Oh I miss Hajj, and totally forgot it was Hajj season. It reminded me of my dad, Rhoda and I in Germany last year lined up for Hajj as well. Eventually I met a woman from Canada but I fell asleep, woke up and she was gone with no trace except for the snack she left in my lap.
I spotted sister Aisha Al Adawiya, and was united with the Malaria no More crew. I was talking to one of them saying, ‘I can’t wait to meet Malcom X’s daughter.’ She gave me a weird look, and I later realized I was talking to her. Rhoda told me to not do anything dumb, there was the first thing!
On the way to Bamako, I was fascinated by something I had never noticed before. I’d never noticed how many stars I could see from any window seat I had had before. Rather than looking up at the stars, I was looking right through them, almost sitting next to them in the sky. Subhanallah, it really is an amazing sight. I wish I could even capture it in a picture. There were hundreds of them, and the longer I stared, the more they became.
We got to Bamako, and sat through a special room waiting for the cars to take us to the hotel. Now that I think of it, I never saw the main terminal in Bamako airport. Oh well.
Inshallah this trip will be benificial and a great experience!