Thursday, March 10, 2011


To our dear friends and family-

Thank you for your soundbites of encouragement via email/blog post/text message! We love hearing from all of you and miss you all though we are settling in well here and looking forward to the road ahead.

The state of the state-
We are back at the training center until Sunday March 13th. Then we hop on Malian public transport (bus, mini van, donkey cart, TBD) to check out our official site post. Site posts were announced last night. We will spend a day traveling, a few days at site, a day at the regional capital to meet current PC staff and volunteers. Then we return to the training center for two days and finally ship back out to our homestay families for a final 2 week stint. We return to the training center the first week of April to prepare for our move to site and the official volunteer swearing in ceremony which is a very formal occasion. The swearing in date is TBD but tentatively April 11 or 12.

For the 2 year volunteer post, all volunteers are matched with a Malian counterpart. Our Malian counterparts arrive today for a two day workshop and then we go with them on Malian public transport to our site. George and I each have separate counterparts as he is a volunteer in the health sector and I am a small enterprise development volunteer. It will be great to have someone show us the ropes and navigate bus station logistics as right now George and I would be able to tell the bus station ticket office that "every morning before I go to the teachers house, I wash my face, greet my host family, and eat bread and drink coffee." I'm sure we will quickly pick up survival phrases to get us from Bamako to our site. According to the counterpart profiles our counterparts speak some French so for the time being we will get by based on George’s French (and Cunningham charm).

We will be posted in a village of approx 7,000 people north-east of Segou along the Niger River. Peace Corps answered George’s prayers to be posted near water. He may turn into a river fisherman and never come home...We have heard GREAT things about the Segou region. The city of Segou is the regional capital. Segou was the former French colonial capital city and apparently has European charm to it.

Once we visit our actual village we will post up additional details, however the village had a PC volunteer from 2005-2007 who wrote up a description of the village. There is a regular market daily and a large market day on Saturdays (vegetables and fruit—amen). Apparently as of 2007 there was also a movie theater that plays English/French movies. Could it be? We will keep you all posted. Our housing is traditional, similar to how we are living now—no electricity/running water but we will have more than one room and our own private bathing area. Again, we will wait to share site details until we’ve seen it ourselves.

I am off to sessions and breakfast. We will do our best to keep you all posted. Life is good. Health is good. We are thinking of all of you in the US, especially—

  • LIZ and WHIT, congrats! We love you!
  • Lent has started. Keep us in your prayers!
  • Mom and Dad (aka Margaret and Dane Gamble) thanks for working through the credit card fraud issues. If  any of you know who went on a shopping spree at an Indiana grocery store with George’s debit card, let us know.
  • Packages. Many of you wonderful people have asked us about our mailing address. We will post our site mailing address as soon as we have it as we would love to hear from you. And we wouldn't mind receiving some American luxuries as well (ahem...Gummies. Salsa con Queso Holly? Great idea!). Currently it is so hot here that any chocolate we have is permanently in a liquid state so I am sure there will be some trial and error when it comes to the Malian postal system and perishables...
We will be in touch. If the internet is down over the next few days we will be back from our site visit on Sunday March 20.



  1. Hi Anna & George,
    We are so excited to read of your experiences and daily language challenges. How facinating this country & culture is! BTW - you are both excellent at writing . . . helps us visualize everything quite well. Yes, we remember you in our prayers regularly.

    You don't mention actual temperature - I hope it is pleasant and you quickly adjust. (Maybe I missed that post if you commented on that.) Once we get your mailing address we can send you some "Humanitarian Aid" (aka. munchies) and perhaps other luxuries. Always know that we will check in on your site. We love you and think of you both often. Grace (& Gary)

  2. We've been praying for you much and are thrilled to read your new updates! Meg drew a picture for you (I call it "a study in circles", cause she's 2, and that's about all she can do), so we'll be sending that your way soon.

    Love, Staci

  3. Hey George,
    Be sure to visit the tomb of your ancestor Emperor Biton Coulibaly in Segou! We're having fun reading tidbits like this about Mali on Wikipedia. Maybe your new given name is a sign of greatness to come...

  4. Salim & Bintu,

    Sorry about the Indiana shopping spree...I just couldn't help myself. It was the only place in the U.S. I could find Dunkaroos (you know, the Kangaroo shaped cookies you dip in frosting). Seeing as I drove all the way from CA to get them it seemed like a good idea to buy up the grocery store's entire supply. The debit card came in handy as I was a little short on cash...
    j/k, but seriously glad to hear it got card fraud is no fun.

    Really enjoying your posts and the funny anecdotes a long the way. Take care both of you!