by Alinta Geling
Mariam lives with her children and grandchildren in the town of Douentza in the Mopti Region of central Mali. Every day her family can be found along the side of the road selling mangos, coconuts, guava, coal, or soap. Although she is getting too old for sales, Mariam makes herself useful at home by breaking coal into small pieces and crocheting tablecloths to sell.
During the recent political turmoil and armed conflict in Mali, all business stopped, so there was no one to buy Mariam’s goods. As a result, after the town was liberated, Mariam was left with no income and a loan from NAYRAL & NEF she could not pay back. But soon her life began to look brighter when she received an additional small grant from NEF that enabled her to restart her business and feed her family at the same time.
These days, Mariam’s business is doing well, and she has even started paying back her loan. She says she is proud to be able to send the children to school again and has allowed herself to dream about restarting her vegetable garden. “Today I don’t have the means to do so,” says Mariam, pointing to a small plot of land where she wants to grow tomatoes and onions. “But now I have hope that tomorrow will be better.”