February 02, 2012

by Stephen Jan in Daklha, Morocco

Before we purchased the ambulance, before we landed in the UK, and before we broke down in Dakhla, we had known about the ongoing unrest in northern Mali. We weren’t too clear on how, what, and why, but the Tuaregs and Mali military are duking it out for control some land up there. I don’t know why cuz the desert doesn’t seem like something very worthwhile to fight over. I guess people like to fight over sandy plots of land.

Anyway we had been both warned and assured that the fighting and instability was in northern Mali, far away from Bamako, the capital. On Thursday, we had gotten word from Freya, the Team Last Responders godmother, that riots have broken out in Bamako. We were amazed. Ever since we entered Africa team has faced challenge after challenge. We couldn’t believe we’re going to be adding civil unrest to the list.

The team sat down to assess the situation. The 3 options were: turn back, stay put, or go on forward. Having sat in Dakhla for 4 weeks, the prospect of staying put did not sound very appealing. We had already promised ourselves that we wouldn’t turn back unless we faced absolutely impossible or dangerous circumstances. The road to Kiffa did not meet that criteria. That left only one option, move on forward. Meanwhile, we reached out to our charities, the Mali Health Organizing Project and the Salif Keita Foundation about the situation in Bamako.