Discover African Art Feeds a Village in Mali, Africa

August 2, 2017 By
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einkorn-grain-field-einkorn-wheat-40384Gifting Grain in the Face of Famine

Our mission at Discover African Art is to make a difference in our community by way of the beautiful art we sell. From working with at-risk youth to hiring ex-felons to promoting the value of giving second chances, we strive to make a positive impact on those who need a helping hand. Recently, we made a difference in a community far removed from us here in the States—but nonetheless in a continent near and dear to our hearts. The community we are honored to have supported is a village called Gori Banda, located in the country of Mali in Africa. Read on as we share the story of what the Gori Banda people endured; our partnership with our friends, the Sissoko’s; and how we were all able to help the Malian village.

In our many interactions and dealings within the African art community, we have become especially close with one wholesale business called Sissoko Tribal Arts and the two wonderful people who run it. Sambou and Carol Sissoko sell one-of-a-kind African art and yet they do so much more. Sambou is from the village of Gori Banda (and an elder of the tribe) and every year, he and Carol look for ways to improve the community that raised him. Last year, they built a small hospital—the first medical center for the village—and currently they are working towards making the nearby river, where they get their drinking water and wash their clothes, much bigger. Yet 2016 presented an emergency and one of the worst devastations the village has ever experienced: famine.

The village was swarmed by ravenous locusts that ate the entirety of their crops. They were left with no food for this year. They worked hard to plant and provide sustenance for their people and to see it all dissipate in the blink of an eye was unimaginably frightening for them. Desperate for help, the people wrote letters to the Mali government requesting they receive aid in this time of need. They didn’t get one response from the government.

Carol and Sambou sought to support the villagers with the necessary food, but lacked the funds to make it happen. And that’s when Discover African Art stepped in. Because of our large African art purchase, Sambou and Carol were able to buy grain for the whole village—an 18-wheeler truckload full of grain and sugar to last them for the next year! The grain will sustain every member of the 200 families that live in the village. Carol wasn’t there to witness the joy on the people’s faces when the grain arrived, but when speaking with her about the donation, she expressed, “What a blessing it was to be able to do that. We give to the village every year, but it was so rewarding to be able to provide something as essential as food.”

Our Discover African Art family is so happy to have been a part of the nourishment of the Gori Banda people. For Dave, it was an honor to be able to give back to a community that he respects so deeply. The Sissoko’s and Dave have known each other for 3 years and have become good friends over that period of time. When asked about their relationship with Dave, Carol gushes, “Dave is wonderful. He’s like our son. He’s come such a long way. We’re really grateful for what he’s done for us.” We feel the same way about the Sissoko’s and feel fortunate to be a part of the remarkable things they do for their Malian community.

Fortunately, one of Sambou’s friends and co-workers, who delivered the grain, captured video footage of the delivery. Below is a clip. You can feel the quiet buzz of excitement throughout the village, as they carefully unload each heavy bag of grain from the truck. The women attentively watch under the shade, while some of the children eagerly help the men stack the bags. It’s as if there is a collective sigh of relief from the village. If you go to our YouTube channel, you can watch more footage of the delivery and the gratitude on the faces of the Gori Banda people. There are interviews of some of the villagers and while they are not yet subtitled for those of us that don’t understand French or Bambara, their satisfaction is surely communicated.

*Thank you to Sambou and Carol Sissoko for sharing their thoughts with us.

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