as i am.

"…but soil is a refuge for dispersed seeds."

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Rainy season came and went with the disinterest of a fickle friend. Despite this disinterest, the village trudged along with endless fieldwork, transforming the surrounding countryside from vast expanses of dirt sprinkled haphazardly with shea trees to towering seas of millet and sorghum. This sea of tropical grasses engulfed the periodic tree trunks and left their dark green heads bobbing at the windswept surface like ducks on the water. Continue reading →

Thoughts and Events As of Late

My resettlement after three short weeks away is harder than anticipated. The existence I had carved out for myself in my first two months is revealing the naive assumptions on which it was based. The change of seasons has left me scrambling to adjust to a new-found solitude in a village deserted by day, as I quickly realize the world I left is not the world to which I return. Farming season has begun. Continue reading →

Travels and Tribulations

In June, I returned to Tubani So for In-Service Training. We reflected on our first two months at site, and learned more about how to be successful volunteers. It was nice to see everyone again, but after two weeks, I was more than ready to leave the over-scheduled, crowded life of training and return to my unstructured freedom of village life. Continue reading →

300 Cups of Tea

Posted on by chrissy

As a peaceful country in desperate need of ‘Western assistance’, the footprint of humanitarian/ngo assistance is everywhere in Mali. Not only is Peace Corps a large, well known presence across the country, but so is USAID (our development agency) and initiatives by the State Department, the Millennium Corporation, various UN agencies, Save the Children, World Vision, Canada, France, Japan, Korea, China, Libya—just to name a few. The people of Mali are very used to receiving handouts, aid, assistance. Continue reading →

The Bugs

Posted on by chrissy

I came to Mali with a mild fear of certain bugs. Fear might even be taking it too far: I could tolerate insects in almost all situations (exceptions being perhaps cockroaches…). My strategy for dealing with bugs most of the time was to make a deal with them that they would make no rash moves and generally stay away from me, and we would be ok. Mali has changed all of this. Continue reading →

Culinary Adventures of Mali

Posted on by chrissy

The main staple of my region of Mali is millet. It is eaten at most meals in most of the small villages near me. For breakfast it is made into a watery porridge. For lunch and dinner it is pounded into a flour and cooked with water into a gelatinous, spongy porridge that one can break into pieces and dip into an adjoining sauce (think grainy, bland, millet polenta). This dish is called to (pronounced toe). Continue reading →

The Family

Posted on by chrissy

The word for host family in Bambara is jatigi. Literally translated, it means guest owner. My host family is one of the most welcoming, wonderful families in Mali. They live in the compound next to mine, and it hasn’t taken long for me to feel like part of the family. Continue reading →

The Routine

Posted on by chrissy

Before the first rays of sun ponder showing their face to the world, my village raises from its slumber to take advantage of the coolness of the morning. Roosters, guinea fowl, and other unidentified birds greet the day the only way they know how; their abrasive squawking sifts into my consciousness as I deny the reality of their message for a few more minutes of peaceful sleep. Soon the repetitive tok toking of millet pounding reassures me it is in fact morning, and with the rising sun, the heat urges me out of bed. Continue reading →


Posted on by chrissy

It’s a good twenty minute walk into the brush before the symphonic whirr of village life fades into a memory. The constant crying, yelling, screaming of children, blehhhing of sheep, bleating of goats, pounding of millet that chase me into the brush are soon swallowed by the equally constant ruffling of leaves, chirping of crickets, fluttering of birds as they chase each other from tree to tree, their silhouetted bodies flashing glimpses of brilliant color with every turn.

And here I am. Continue reading →

Becoming Settled

Posted on by chrissy

“Time interval is a strange and contradictory matter in the mind. It would be reasonable to suppose that a routine time or an eventless time would seem interminable. It should be so, but it is not. It is the dull eventless times that have no duration whatever. A time splashed with interest, wounded with tragedy, crevassed with joy—that’s the time that seems long in the memory. And this is right when you think about it. Eventlessness has no posts to drape duration on. From nothing to nothing is no time at all.”
-John Steinbeck, East of Eden, 1952

My days are filled with nothings: small moments stringing together the short hours that lead to days, to weeks. My triumphs and my failures pass unnoticed by all except myself, because they are to be expected. I slowly etch out an existence in this almost-desert of bare dirt waiting patiently for rain, for planting, for harvest. Continue reading →

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  • About Me:

    I am a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Mali for two years promoting sustainable agriculture and environment development.

  • Address in Mali:

    Christina Scheller
    B.P. 02
    San, Mali

    Click here for tips and information on sending letters and packages.

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  • What I’m Reading

    King Leopold's Ghost - Adam Hochschild
  • What I’ve Read

    High Tide in Tucsan - Barbara Kingsolver All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren Half the Sky - Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn Prodigal Summer - Barbara Kingsolver Dirt: The Erosion of Civilization - David R. Montgomery Everything is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee The Education of Little Tree - Forrest Carter The Rodale Book of Composting Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin The Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling The Lacuna - Barbara Kingsolver The History of the House of Representatives - Robert Remini East of Eden - John Steinbeck Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin The Imperial Cruise - James Bradley