Mali: Yacouba Maiga

As told to Moustapha Diallo, IFRC

My name is Yacouba Maiga. I am 31 years old and I come from Gao, in northern Mali. Our village was attacked by insurgents who destroyed almost everything. They burned down houses, stole belongings and killed people. I fled the violence and now live in Sévaré, in Mopti region, in central Mali.

When I came back to my village, I discovered in me a need to help my community. This need was bigger than ever before. I have since become a Red Cross volunteer and am part of the volunteer teams in Mopti who provide first aid to people and evacuate those who are sick to health facilities.

We work to accommodate the displaced, provide them comfort and ensure they have shelter in schools and other administrative buildings. Given the deterioration of sanitary facilities and precarious hygiene conditions due to overcrowding in these temporary housing sites, we also organize awareness raising campaigns about hygiene, provide drinking water and organize demonstration sessions on water treatment. Food and essential items including tents, tarpaulins, mosquito nets, soap, kitchen sets are also handed out.

The needs of displaced populations and host families remain enormous. Living conditions are poor. Many are still traumatized from what they have witnessed and wait for better security guarantees before returning home. Health is also a biggest concern in our communities. We have river blindness, diarrhoea and cholera because of poor hygiene, lack of wells and latrines.

With the little we have, we get by. We have to work hard to strengthen our communities and not always expect external help. ‘Charity begins at home’, as they say. This is how I see my mission as a Red Cross volunteer.