The Village of Teriya Bugu in MaliAbout two years ago, I wrote a post commenting on a book presenting the story of a remarkable health worker in Mali named Monique Dembele. Monique and the Mango Rains, by Kris Holloway, captures not only Dembele's spirit and accomplishments, but also offers a vivid picture of Mali, a country that has been relatively successful in its development efforts, despite a difficult climate and high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
For someone interested in knowing more of what's happening in Mali, another encouraging account can be found in the story of Teriya Bugu, a village on the Bani River.
Teriya Bugu "Friendship House" in the Bambara language started on the path to its current status as a model farm and ecotourism site back in the 1960s, when a French priest named Bernard Vespieren struck up a friendship with a local fisherman, and eventually decided to focus his development assistance efforts on this particular spot.
As indicated in the video below (narrated in French, Mali's official language), Teriya Bugu takes well-earned pride in its orchards, field crops, kitchen garden, honey, animal husbandry, forestry (over forty species of trees, with an emphasis on eucalyptus), use of renewable energy (solar, wind, and biofuels), and its tourist facilities (guest accommodations, restaurant, conference center for up to one hundred people, museum, zoo, boating, swimming, fishing, birdwatching, and other leisure activities). There are also a school, a dispensary, a library, and a cooperative store.
The ethic that underlies the day-to-day work and the ongoing improvements in Teriya Bugu is one of sustainable and equitable development. It is in this sense that Teriya Bugu qualifies as a model village, a term typically used to characterize Teriya Bugu in published reports.