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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Diary from Mali: IR USA Staff, Zeyad Maasarani

Yousef, 16 year old orphan

Zeyad Maasarani
Saturday, February 13, 2010

It's our last day in Mali and I can't help but bid the people farewell with a heavy heart. But it helps to know how much Islamic Relief is helping them.

Not only did IR help turn the desert green in Gourma Rharous with an irrigation system, but we're also helping children go to school, have access to clean water and to lead normal lives when they previously couldn't.

Yesterday, we visited a malaria clinic in Bamako where we saw a crowd no smaller than 300 mothers and their young children seeking treatment for malaria: an easily preventable disease.

Seeing the children with our own eyes and knowing that 3 out of every 4 of them would have died without treatment touched all of our hearts.

I felt so guilty knowing children were dying everyday and that I could have helped. None of us said a word as we journeyed back to the office. Many of us were crying and putting ourselves in their shoes.

The mothers thanked us like we were responsible for helping save their children’s lives. But we all knew that it’s the support of donor’s back home that’s saving so many lives.

It costs $20 for medicine to cure a malaria-afflicted child in Mali, and it only costs $10 for a bed net that will help them sleep safely without the threat of death or disease.

I told the director of Islamic Relief’s Mali office that life in Mali is very difficult.

"You haven't seen anything," he told me. "For some people this is heaven." I stared back at him in awe as he explained.

"Some children walk 12 hours in the desert to fetch their day's water. At least here they have shade to sit in."

I wiped the sweat from my brow, embarrassed to have complained.

I am very thankful Islamic Relief works in areas like this, when so many others are afraid or unable.
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