I Want To Thank You!

This is the video I could not post last year about the Touareg tribal villagers outside of Timbuktu in Mali. These are the people that the group I have been working with, GCAM, has been involved with for over 30 years now. The video was created by my buddy and neighbor, Marius, who organized the intertribal donkey exchange and walked across the Sahara with his friend, Mark Aardenburg, who is a Dutch documentary film maker who has made many great films with his little production company, MovieTron. The reason I could not post this film, which has been shown on PBS and the History Channel in America, was because the people in the film were trying to stay alive in the midst of the political insanity in Mali. The Islamist Group, AQMI has a big presence on the internet and they really monitor and try to keep track of what is said and posted about them. The people in this film, if they had been identified, would have been marked for death. Many of them were under a fatwah just because they had associated with Europeans. So the aim of GCAM was to get them out of Mali as safely and as quickly as possible. Finally, and thanks to everyone who inhabits this blog who donated to the effort, on December 28th, the last group of villagers made it to the UNHRC camp in Burkina Faso. One of the heros of the effort was a 18 year old kid, who was child when this video was made and who made the trip 4 times to make sure all of his family members were located and safely escorted across the Sahara. It was very dangerous for him, because being a young man, he would have been a prime target to be abducted by the AQMI Militants to be used as fodder, a human shield so to speak in the upcoming struggle between the African Coalition and AQMI to reclaim Mali. What we did was not political.The initial conflict was inspired by a Touareg group who wanted to create an independent Touareg State in Northern Mali. This led to the situation that the Al Qaeda Coalition, AQMI has exploited to seize most of Mali. Last week, the president of Mali, who actually was a quite well known physicist who worked with NASA, was seized as he tried to flee the country to asylum in France.  These people are not involved in political activity, but because their peaceful non violent traditional life style was in conflict to the fundamentalist AQMI group, they were seen as a threat and are being systematically massacred.
What we ended up doing was many trips, funded by the money we raised on the internet taking small groups in cars across the Sahara to Burkina Faso. The big UNHRC camp in Burkina Faso now has 75,000 refugees living there, but they are being provided for and protected by the UN with a pretty sophisticated infrastructure and provided with food and water.
So, the best thing I can do for you now, is to post this great documentary and thank you so much for making this possible. We raised almost 7,000 Euros from the internet and every centime went to make this possible.
Please, accept my most sincere wish for a wonderful 2013, good health and peace. I believe that if you really want something to happen and you remain focused and don’t ask for too much, you will probably succeed. Your good actions always come back to you. Merci Beaucoup, tout le monde!

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11 thoughts on “I Want To Thank You!

  1. From my perspective, I am a citizen of the United States and we have enough problems to contend with than whats happening in the rest of
    the world. I see babies being murdered every day, I see older children
    being abused daily, I see women being battered and assualted daily, I see
    our prisons filled to overflowoikng with political prisoners, I see infants being malnourished, I see school children receiving not breakfasts or lunches, I see workers going on welfare as companies close and the owners
    fill their pockets with money, I see rampant income inequality continuing
    to increase in scope, I see coffins bringing home the remains of soldiers from
    Obama’s War, I see the congressional-military-industrial complex still
    controlling foreign policy and sending our youth and our treasure down the
    sewer, I see seniors being abused and raped in nursing homes. And, I am to
    be concerned about Mali? How many children are walking the streets of
    Toledo today with no coat? Or a blanket to sleep under tonight? Even here
    in Jackson, MS of the Deep South, it is a cold and raw. Already the helping agencies are pleading for coats and blankets. I am just of the opinion that I rrescured my “missionary babies” a long time ago, and now we American need to take care of Americans first.

    1. It is sometimes difficult to look elsewhere in the world to see and/or address problems not on our own soil. Surely we can find plenty of problems around the corner or down the street to make our heads ache. One, therefore, can pick and choose where one devotes their time, talent or treasure. There are many opportunities here, there and everywhere.

      Fault can be found, however, in those who see the needs of ‘the other’ yet choose to look away, though I cannot stand in judgement of others.

  2. UTF, you do not have to be concerned about Mali if you do not care to be. All of your points about what is going on around you in America is more than valid! American foreign policy sure hasn’t been very positive in regards to Mali. Susan Rice really lambasted the UN joint intervention with the African Coalition and actually said that France’s stance was, and I quote: “full of crap”. I have to admit that Francois Hollande’s stance on African relations is very progressive. He lived in Algeria when he was young and just made a historic visit and officially recognized the French atrocities in the Algerian War in the late 50’s and early 60’s. He has been very demonstratively supportive of human rights activists in Africa. I don’t write about French or European politics here very often, only when I think I can make some kind of relevant point. Your reaction to my Malian Internet project was pretty mild compared to some of the sheer negative idiocy I encountered. That’s why I make it a point to emphasize the non political aims of GCAM. None the less, I was over whelmed by the positive response and learned a lot for future projects.
    I posted this piece to thank everyone for the response I got. It was more than I ever hoped for. We had an immediate goal and accomplished it. I could not have posted the video if we had not.
    I got involved because of the passion of my friend who has been doing this since he was a young man. He met his wife in Cambodia working with Medicins sans Frontiers. I met them 20 years ago when they first moved to the Dordogne after “retiring” when they barely escaped the African political tribal wars in Burundi. They were on the last plane out so to speak.
    Marius had been involved with this group of Malian Touaregs for 30 years.
    Somehow, long after we had become friends, fate made us neighbors here in our little obscure hamlet. He has a business selling plants and designing and manufacturing technological tools for small scale gardening. His wife is a passionate animal lover and “rescues” horses. They have at any time, 18 to 30 horses on various pieces of land around here.
    So, when the present crisis in Mali started to evolve, Marius was completely over whelmed. These were his friends and companions and they were under immediate threat. The last resort for them was to evacuate their traditional homes, but they had to. Marius was trying to fund the transport and logistics out his own pocket and figure out stuff from here in the Dordogne. The GCAM NGO has a small staff in Mali which had to relocate to Burkina Faso because it was impossible to operate as a European safely. I had the idea of doing a PayPal account and trying to raise money through an internet outreach. It was difficult to write about it because of the limits of what we could safely say on the internet. You notice, in this post, I did not ask for money. I wanted to let everyone who put up with my earlier posts and were generous enough to actually donate to the GCAM project, know that it had succeeded.
    As I said, if you pick a goal and it’s realistic enough to believe in , you will probably succeed. That’s the story of my life. I always had some kind of dream I was able to imagine and usually, it became a reality. I have big dreams, but my daily dreams are quite modest, actually. Now let’s do something else together!

  3. Department of one more thing: I would post this video on this blog, but I don’t want to take up any more space, so if you click on this link, you will see Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy who cowrote and produced Mavis’ 2011 recording of the same title, You Are Not Alone.http://youtu.be/KW0kE6mucFY

  4. I have not had the experience of leaving the mother country and taking up residence and citizenship in another country, nor have I visited Europe or Africa. As I grow older my “world view” is shrinking to what I see as the
    possible. We have “foreign relations” with our own populations, i.e., the
    Native Americans. Theswe are “treaty nations”. Just look how successful
    the United States has been in relating to the soverign Native American
    cultures. We can’t even assimulate, educated, employ, and feed our own
    “foreign nations”. After policies of out right extermination and massacre
    didn’t complete the annihilation of the Native American, they were put on
    Reservations to slowly rot away. I just can’t get enthused about coming to the aid of other people in the world in long standing national disputes…Yes,
    for a disaster as in earthquakes, floods, and eruptions. I’m tired of saving
    the world, it’s time we save the USA!

    1. The disgrace of our nation regarding Native Americans is shocking in that it is never addressed by our leaders, Congress or representatives of ‘the church.’

      Just imagine, my friend, if ‘the church’ would spend a quarter of the time they waste on issues like gay marriage or Hollywood art/films on enriching the lives of Native Americans! But no. Of course, the Natives are pagans and therefore not ‘worthy’ of their time, money or resources.

      From your perspective, UptheFlag, how can either government or non-government groups help this issue?

  5. M_R writes, “Just imagine, my friend, if ‘the church’ would spend a quarter of the time they waste on issues like gay marriage or Hollywood art/films on enriching the lives of Native Americans! ”

    When the Reservation system wasstarted many of the Reservations were assigned to a Christian Church. We see how well the churches did

    1. Sorry, I kind of lost my temper here…I had to delete my last comment because even I offended myself. I only wanted to thank you guys for what GCAM got from the posts on this blog. Sincerely. I did what I intended to do, I have other projects in mind. The reality of what is possible is defined by your own limits. If you are able to focus on something, and figure out how to create the infrastructure, and make it reasonably doable…then why can’t you do it? It’s true that you can’t save the world, but you can help a little piece of it. I refuse to let myself feel helpless. I refuse to let myself become isolated from the rest of the world. I know from my own experience that my passion is a powerful tool. We all have that in us. That is why I participate in this blog. I let myself get angry! I like to feel rage…For me it is like sticking my brain in a pencil sharpener. Emotion is how I find my focus, it is how I filter my logic. It is the abrasive that only hones my intellect. Again, thank you.

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