Baby Beast's second life

posted Sep 12, 2013, 6:51 AM by Andras Kalmar

Just received pictures of Baby Beast from Diema. Converted to a 9+ seat minivan it serves Village Ventures to transport people to/from the center, but in addition it is also operated as a taxi, helping a local family to earn some money.

Donations finally arrived in Mali!

posted Jun 5, 2013, 2:31 PM by Andras Kalmar

After almost 4 months of fighting, waiting, (and bribing) our donations have finally arrived in Mali yesterday. It has been a tremendous effort to get the stuff across the border, laws, rules and responsibilities are unfortunately very unstable in Mali these days.

Salihou and Pam from Village Ventures, thank you very much for your help to get the donations into Mali.

June 5, 2013: Medicines arrive in the clinic of Mali Health Organizing Project in Bamako

Picture gallery available

posted Feb 25, 2013, 3:55 PM by Andras Kalmar

Photos available now in almost all blog posts!

posted Feb 17, 2013, 1:56 PM by Andras Kalmar

Please scroll down to see them.

Our donations are still stuck at the Malian border :-(

posted Feb 17, 2013, 11:40 AM by Andras Kalmar   [ updated Feb 17, 2013, 11:40 AM ]

Baby Beast and the medicines have arrived at the Malian border a few days ago, but Malian customs don't let the car into the country and again and again ask for new certificates, exoneration letters, tax exemption letters, etc. I hope the problems can be sorted out soon, our driver has been on the road now for almost a week.

Home, sweet home

posted Feb 13, 2013, 4:05 AM by Andras Kalmar   [ updated Feb 13, 2013, 4:05 AM ]

Zero degrees and snowfall in Vienna, just arrived.

Perfect culmination of this trip to Bissau: I almost got arrested

posted Feb 12, 2013, 1:35 PM by Andras Kalmar   [ updated Feb 17, 2013, 11:59 AM ]

The offense was trying to take photos of the carnival without being an official photographer.
Instead of telling me that photography was not permitted, or that I would have to obtain a permit, a guy of Guardia Nacional started yelling at me, grabbed my camera, and pushed me into the yard of a police station. All my questions  to understand what I did wrong remained unheard, the guy was just yelling at me in Portuguese. He got even more angry when he realized that in the meantime Craig and Milos had run away with Michal's camera.
After a few minutes of yelling and fighting over my camera a lady came around with a bag full of press passes. She wanted to have 35000CFA (more than 50EUR) which I quickly bargained to 10EUR.
As soon as I had my photographer pass the guy let go of me and never harassed me again.
I am still proudly wearing the badge stating that I am an official photographer of the Ministry of national education, youth and cultural affairs of the Republic of Guinea - Bissau.

Nevertheless it is a sad story. To even the smallest delict the police replies with pure violence. They were beating children and women with their batons and old car v-belts for standing too close to the street and similarly serious offenses.

The carnival was closed today by a beautiful costume parade. Here some impressions:

Ready to go

posted Feb 12, 2013, 6:05 AM by Andras Kalmar   [ updated Feb 12, 2013, 6:05 AM ]

We have checked out from our rooms and are waiting for the last carnival day to start. Around noon it is too hot to do anything outside.

The last two weeks were an unforgettable experience (I fell in love with the people of sub-saharan Africa again), a tough challenge (I can't remember to ever have slept that little, except perhaps during some crazy training sessions in Belgium in 2007), and I found one of the still existing real banana republics in the world: Guinea-Bissau. It is all about corruption here, everybody is trying to rip you off, you are constantly at the mercy of the many shady officials (or would-be officials, everybody is a minister or a former minister or a relative of a minister or at least a friend of a minister here and they all derive special privileges and rights from their "status").
Despotism at its best. Nice to experience firsthand, but even nicer to leave behind. 12 hours until departure ...

Beach party cancelled :-(

posted Feb 11, 2013, 8:25 AM by Andras Kalmar   [ updated Feb 17, 2013, 12:30 PM ]

We wanted to hire a boat and go to one of the islands of Guinea Bissau today but prices were too high. Our best offer for a one day trip was 450.000 CFA, around 700 EUR, far beyond our budget. The islands are around 100km away, but still 700EUR is heavily overpriced. Or our bargaining skills are too limited. Or both.

Searching for a boat in the port of
Searching for a boat in the harbor of Bissau

We are hanging out at the hotel pool instead, drinking beer, and waiting for the temperature to fall before we go to the city again.

There are still a lot of teams trying to sell their car, or even worse,  waiting for the money for an already sold one. The whole country seems to have run out of money.

Car "market" in front of a hangar with old Russian aircraft wrecks.  Police and army are expelling all potential buyers in order to make good bargains themselves.

Pajero sold...

posted Feb 10, 2013, 3:25 PM by Andras Kalmar   [ updated Feb 17, 2013, 12:24 PM ]

... donations found and loaded into Baby Beast, Baby Beast handed over to Village Ventures, enjoyed Bissau carnival in the evening. It was a successful day.

Unloading our boxes from the donation truck. Of course they have been at the very end of the truck, so we had to dig through 30 tons of boxes to reach them.

Lots of helping hands. Special thanks to József Kádár (always wearing a tie) and his wife (on his right) for transporting the donations of the Budapest Bamako to Africa every year. Free of charge of course, that is his contribution to the charity projects.

Handing over the keys of Baby Beast to Pam Young, founder of Village Ventures, and to Salihou, chief of operation of Village Ventures' center in Diema/Mali.

108kg of medicine donations ready for the last part of their journey from Bissau to Bamako.

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