Tobani So, near Bamako
Vase planted by Molly Fredricks, Catherine Fredricks-Rehagen and Mimi LaBoeuf, September 20, 2001

“My daughter Catherine and I were very honored when our friend Julia Huttel asked us if we would bury a peace vase in Mali.  Catherine is living there as a Peace Corps volunteer and I went to visit her.  Mali is in the heart of West Africa and much of the country is in the Sahara desert but the southern part when not drought ridden is quite fertile.  The Niger River flows through Mali and most of the major towns.  Catherine lives south of the capital, Bamako, in a mud thatched roof dwelling in the tiny village of Tabou, with Bambara tribe members who are farmers in Mali.  She does health education work and just about everything else that comes up.

Mali is one of the poorest Africa nations.   And despite more rain and increasing political stability in recent years, it still lacks many of the basic things we in the developed world have.  For instance, a shovel.  There are no shovels in Catherine’s village, no hardware or department stores, and burying a vase without one could be a problem.   Enter, Mimi LaBoeuf, a volunteer from Louisiana who worked in water sanitation.  She provided two rickety and strangely bent shovels.

Another dilemma was figuring out how to bury the vase discreetly so the curious would not be tempted to dig it up later.  The locals don’t really see many tourists in these parts.  And because it is the rainy season, it’s even less traveled right now.  So, the sight of an older American woman did not go unnoticed.  Everywhere we went, we either had a guide or crowds of people around us.  We finally decided we could safely asked to be left alone at a facility owned by the Peace Corps about ten kilometers south of Bamako.  In Tobani, which is translated as ‘House of the Dove’.  Quite fitting.  We left our driver at the entrance and made our way to the fields behind the river, but well above the flood plain.  I have to admit, the heat prompted me to let the younger gals do the digging.”  (Molly Fredricks)