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Peace Corps Volunteers assist the government of Mali in an effort to address multiple development challenges. Currently, the Peace Corps places its emphasis on sustainable capacity-building projects in the areas of food production, water availability, environmental conservation, micro-enterprise development, and preventive health care, including water sanitation work and HIV/AIDS awareness.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Mali
In August 1969, Mali made a formal request for the Peace Corps’ assistance. That same year, a Peace Corps representative arrived in Bamako, the capital of Mali, to assist the government in planning Volunteers’ activities, primarily in the area of agricultural development. The first Volunteers arrived in April 1971 to help allay the hardships caused by a severe drought. Twenty-five Volunteers developed projects in poultry raising, vegetable production, water resources managemen and agricultural extension.Since that time, some 2,000 Volunteers have served in Mali.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Main article: Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mali
The community to which you are assigned will provide safe and adequate housing in accordance with the Peace Corps’ site selection criteria. Housing is typically a small house made of mud or cement bricks with a thatch roof. Some Volunteers in urban sites live in cement houses with two or three rooms. Most Volunteers do not have running water or electricity; water comes from a pump or a well, and light is provided by kerosene lanterns or candles. Nearly all Volunteers are within one hour of another Volunteer and most are within 10 hours of the Peace Corps office in Bamako via public transportation.
Main article: Training in Mali
Training is an essential part of Peace Corps service. The goal of the eleven-week program is to give you the skills and information you need to live and work effectively in Mali. In doing that, we build upon the experiences and expertise you bring to the Peace Corps. The program also gives you the opportunity to practice new skills as they apply to your work in Mali. We anticipate that you will approach training with an open mind, a desire to learn, and a willingness to become involved. Trainees officially become Volunteers only after successful completion of training.
You will receive training and orientation in components of language, cross-cultural communication, development issues, health and personal safety, and technical skills pertinent to your specific assignment. The skills you learn will serve as the foundation upon which you build your experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Upon arrival in Mali, you will go to Toubaniso, the Peace Corps training center about half an hour outside of Bamako. After a brief orientation period, you will move into a host village within an hour of the training center. In the host village, you and other trainees (about 15 to a village) will live with a Malian host family for the majority of your training period, allowing you to gain hands-on experience in some of the new skills you are expected to acquire.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health care and safety in Mali
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Mali maintains a clinic with three full-time medical officers, who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Mali at local hospitals and clinics. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported to a medical facility in the region or to the United States.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Mali
In Mali, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Mali.
Outside of Mali’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and Caucasian. The people of Mali are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Mali
- How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Mali?
- What is the electric current in Mali?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- What should I bring as gifts for Malian friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- Can I call home from Mali?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
Main article: Packing list for Mali
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Mali and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. Do not bring valuables or cherished items that could be lost, stolen, or ruined by the harsh climate. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Mali.
- Packing for training
- Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
- Additional Items to Consider Bringing
- Items You Do Not Need to Bring
Peace Corps News
- Volunteers say in Peace Corps they learned about universality of church - National Catholic Reporter
National Catholic ReporterVolunteers say in Peace Corps they learned about universality of church
National Catholic Reporter
In the beginning, Monica Oliver figured with her college education and her upbringing in the United States, she'd help transform a poor community. The Jesuit-educated Oliver was a Peace Corps volunteer living in Mali. She worked with women entrepreneurs ...
Contributions to the Mali Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Mali. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.
- Volunteers who served in Mali
- Friends of Mali
- List of resources for Mali
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- Inspector General Reports