The face of kindness VI: Little Netherlands in Mali

It has almost been a month before going on this journey, and there is another two weeks to go. To keep my energy going I do yoga, usually in my hotel room. But here in Segou, I have found the perfect spot, on a rooftop, watching over the river Niger. In the morning I see the sun rise there with a gush of refreshing wind, in the evening the sun sets and when I lie down in the last pose on my back on a roof which is still warm, it has become dark and Orion has risen over my head.

The rooftop is not of a hotel, it’s a home from a Dutch couple who work here in Segou. I got invited to stay there along with the consultants of EyeOpenerWorks (who are their friends) that are providing the training on Participatory Video and Most Significant Change. They have been friends and thought it might be nice for me as well. And I was most grateful to accept, after 3 weeks of being in hotels it definitely is a nice change. Being in a home also lets you relax perhaps a little more after an intense travel like this, and I realised I was feeling tired, both physically and emotionally. After fighting this feeling for the first few days, I realised yesterday I had to let go and simply acknowledge I was.

Fortunately I found myself in good company, my new Dutch friends and colleagues, their Malian friend of the house, and a Burkinabe filmmaker/trainer. We’ve had pleasant evenings, talking, playing some card games and cooking dinner together or taking a walk to the river.

Yesterday I went up the roof again, but this time inviting Sandra, the lady of the house to come up as well to enjoy a yoga session with me. I had the pleasure of introducing her to some of the basics and once we were lying on our backs in the end we simply gazed at the stars above. Once more I realised this familiar, but wondrous notion, when truly letting go and opening up to the people you meet along the way, you’ll meet the Face of Kindness, over and over again. Even if this is in your own ‘Little Netherlands’ in Mali.

Based on some of the conversations I had in this Little Netherlands, I got the inspiration to write the following lines.


There are the little things

The things that touch us

Break us and remake us


Sometimes it’s a hand

An embrace

A loving remark


Sometimes it’s a gush of wind

The fresh breath of spring

The strawberry on the tip of a tongue


Sometimes it’s the time passing

A clock stopped ticking

A train without an hour of departure


Sometimes it’s nothing more than

the laughter of a teenager

the compliment of the old man


Sometimes it’s the day

Forgetting to care about

The big things

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