The truth about stories

A friend living in Bamako told me about a young man from Ségou she had encountered multiple times over the past month or so. He had traveled to the capital to sell necklaces to gather the money needed to repair the motor of his boat.
She told him for weeks on a row that she had already bought so many necklaces that she really didn’t want to add any more. Yet, she felt sorry for his problems and finally decided to gift him a small sum.
‘I know everyone says it’s better to buy things or to have people work for the money, but honestly I didn’t want any more necklaces, even though they are beautiful’, she told me. She was very happy she had still been able to help the young man, who had been courageous enough to travel to Bamako to earn the much needed money.

Over the years I’ve become reluctant to giving money. I’ve heard so many stories about ill family members, about collapsed rooftops, about upcoming weddings and so much more. When people whole heartidly try to help someome in such a ‘dire’ situation it often leaves me with mixed feelings.
I’ve buyed in to multiple stories feeling so sorry for people about their situation. I too have whole heartidly tried to help people, providing them with the money that would meet their urgent needs. Needs that often turned out to be quite different: a bar visit, a new phone et cetera.
I’ve learned my lessons.

Nevertheless I felt (very) bad about feeling so reluctant when she told her story.
Especially when she explained to me what the young man and his boat looked like. He’s one of the people taking his work seriously and taking good care of his boat as well as of his family.
I felt sorry for him for the badluck with his motor. He had bought it only a couple of months ago. A Chinese mark. Maybe it wasn’t as good as he thought it would have been.
I hadn’t noticed his absence; his time in the capital surely had coincided with my recent trip.

Knowing this young man well, I stepped by on my way back home, to ask how he was doing and to inquire about the motor of his boat.
‘Monique, I’m still so happy that I changed the motor earlier this year. It’s click and start!’, he stated with a big happy smile on his face.
‘But you recently had it repaired, didn’t you?’, I asked him in surprise.
He hadn’t.
‘You weren’t in Bamako?’, I asked him.
He had been, only a few hours though, visiting an ill family member.

It sure wasn’t him, telling stories about a broken-down motor of his boat.
Nor was it our captain or the captain of the only other tourist boat in town…

About MoInMali

Monique is the founder of Papillon Reizen, a Mali based travel agency specialized in inspiring journeys in Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin. Fair-trade and with a heart for people, environment and culture. Small-scale group journeys as well as family trips and journeys tailored to your wishes. We love to share West Africa's beauty with you and take you on a journey to experience rather than to see. Monique lives in Mali with her Malian partner and shares some of her daily life experiences with you through this blog. For information on Papillon Reizen:
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