As the name of our organization suggests, we are in Timbuktu – the capital of Timbuktu region in the West African nation Mali, 985 km northeast of the capital city Bamako, on the southern fringes of Sahara Desert. The town had a population of 54,453 in the 2009 census.
The town is quite small, from Sahara Passion Hotel on the north end of the town to the Total petrol station on the south end is only 4.6 km – you can walk it in one hour. The east/west distance is only 3 km. There is only one tarmac road running from south to north, the Grand Market has pavement made of concrete pavers, all other streets have sand surface.
Our centre was located in the suburb Hamabogou, and the street address was Rue 120, porte 75 – the fifth intersection behind Timbuktu hospital. (See photo) We were renting the same building that was vacated in 2011 by “Doctors without borders” (Médecins Sans Frontières) organization, just across the street from the office of Development Social et Economie Solidaire. Hopefully one day we will be able to reopen it again. Every taxi driver and every hotel reception in the town knows where we are located.
Since we moth-balled the centre, our first graduates had to go back to their old lives. Now they’re just waiting for the town to be safe for the tourists again, so that they can offer their services to the tired travellers after a long and wearisome journey.