We left Nioro Customs station the morning of February 17. Aside from the poor bird that Dennis ran over, the drive down to Bamako was utterly uneventful. For once, we had a smooth drive, free of mechanical and bureaucratic obstacles. We arrived in Bamako at 2:00 pm. By 3:00 PM the ambulance parked at its new home, the Center for Development of Vaccines.
Several doctors were at the entrance waiting for us when we pulled up to the main building. We gave them a brief tour of the ambulance and they were all utterly impressed with the made-in-USA, Wheeled Coach workmanship. The doctors invited us into the office for celebratory bottles of cold water and instant espresso. Dr Keita explained to us some of the work they did, including the treatment of leprosy, albinism, and skin cancer. The region that the center covered included Ghana, Burina Faso, and of course Mali. With such a large area, reaching out to remote villages is really tough. We are all hoping that this ambulance will be able to help the doctors deliver care to remote areas more effectively.
Next Monday, the team will be visiting the Mali Health Organizing Project. Tuesday, the ambulance will be handed over in a ceremony attended by officials and of course Salif Keita himself. Each Last Responder will be going their separate ways by Wednesday. This weekend, Team Last Responders would be taking one last road trip out to the Segou Music Festival before saying goodbye to the Timbuktu Challenge.