Saving Bibi

The name Bibi means “Lady” in Mali. Bibi also means “My Love” in Arabic. I like to call Madame Maly Sangho “Mama Love” because this is what she epitomizes. She is all of the above and much more.

I met Bibi through a kind hearted, enterprising teenager named Alejandro Ernst. Alejandro lives in DC with his family. He visited Bibi’s orphanage on a school trip to Bamako, Mali a couple of years ago. It was a long trek from DC to Mali but young Alejandro managed to navigate multiple countries with 5 duffle bags filled to the hilt with donations for Bibi’s orphans. The orphanage home is called Orphelinat Niaber and their registered NGO name is Asemali. In reality Bibi’s personal home has always been a refuge for asylum seekers and orphans. Bibi was born in the historic town Timbuktu. Growing up as a child she learned from her mother to never turn a blind eye on someone in need. In 1993 Bibi decided to formalize her efforts to help abandoned babies and founded a foreign non profit (NGO) called Asemali.

I was deeply touched by Alejandro’s story as he continues to help the orphanage to this very day. I visited Bibi and the babies in June of 2012. Nothing could have prepared me for the trip that lay before me. The abject poverty, dismal conditions and the tragic reality of new born babies being abandoned in hospitals and on the side of the road was more than I could bear. Through it all Bibi’s efforts to help her fellow countrymen/women and children has been unwaivering. Click here to see a video of Bibi during better health times at the orphanage. She has been an unstoppable force answering every desperate plea for help, hearing about sightings of babies who were being abandoned and doing spot checks in the middle of the night to make sure the recently arrived malnourished babies were receiving constant care. It was a wonder if Bibi slept 2 hours each night. I urged Bibi to take care of herself. To eat better, to unplug the phone, to go on a spiritual retreat or to do anything that would help re-energize her physical batteries.

But she was incapable of turning a blind eye and her breakneck pace continued as the war in Mali raged on. With her orphanage over flowing with refugees she started developing chest pains. Eventually her chest pains got worse and she was flown to Tunisia where she was admitted into a hospital. Fortunate for Bibi one of her daughters works for an airline and as such was able to provide Bibi with a family travel pass. When Bibi finished her treatment her daughter arranged to have her flown back to Mali so she could resume her role at the helm of the orphanage. Over the years Bibi has received many humanitarian awards. Years prior she received the Malian Chevalier des Ordres and on April 3, 2013 she was being honored as the Malian Mother of the Year in Istanbul, Turkey. While she was in Istanbul she collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. This is when they discovered Bibi had a brain tumor and she had to undergo surgery. Bibi’s surgery was a success and she returned home to Mali. I marveled at Bibi’s resilience and ability to bounce back from one illness after another. I was relieved until I recently received a frantic call from her daughter, Tina Traore who lives in the United States. She brought Bibi to the States because she was retaining water, so much so that her skin was splitting. I could not believe my ears. I was dumbfounded and amazed that this brave woman and beacon of light for the downtrodden seemed to have no health respite in sight. My heart ached for her and what she was going through.

Today is Bibi’s turn to receive help instead of being the one to give it freely and lovingly. Please read below about the Saving Bibi Campaign as help comes in many forms:

1. Write Bibi a message on our blog. Talk to her. Learn from her. Get to know her as she needs to read your words of encouragement.

2. She needs a laundry list of medicine! If any of you have connections with the pharmaceutical industry, please let us know at [email protected] The medicine she needs for her seizures is called Keppra.

3. Make a donation so we can purchase the medication she needs. Here is our PayPal link to “Make a Donation“. After you enter all of the pertinent information, the second screen will allow you to specify that you want your donation to go towards “Saving Bibi” (ie purchasing her medicine and/or paying her doctor bills).

4. Make a check payable to Bridging Humanity and make a notation on the bottom of the check that it is for “Saving Bibi“. Mail the check to Bridging Humanity at 3426 Franklin Avenue, Miami, Florida 33133. Upon receipt we will send you an acknowledgement letter and tax receipt.

5. If you have any additional ideas, doctor connections or suggestions please email [email protected]

Bridging Humanity is a volunteer based 501c3. Our Federal ID number is 45-5515265. All proceeds and donations go directly to fund the projects we support as specified by our donors. None of the funds donated are used to cover administrative costs.

On behalf of Bridging Humanity, Bibi Sangho, her family and the Orphelinat Niaber orphans, we THANK YOU!

May God and Allah bless us all.

Tina Cornely
Founder of Bridging Humanity

Embracing the Odyssey of Adoption

On November 11, 2012 I received an unusual comment on one of my blogs from Antonio Bonache. Antonio and Yolanda found me while they were fishing the internet for news and photos regarding their soon to be adopted son from Mali, Africa. This was not the first time a would be parent had contacted me regarding a child under the care of the Orphelinat Niaber. I was deeply touched by their relentless questions. They asked me what it was like to hold their son, Tidiane. They wanted to know what his needs were and if he had any special requirements. They wanted to know any and everything they could about their son. And yes, he was their son already although they had never met and Tidiane lived miles away at the Orphelinat Niaber. The doting father and mother were anxiously awaiting the day they would fly to Bamako, Mali and meet their son for the very first time. In preparation they readied his room, bought clothes, baby bottles and an arsenal of baby accoutrements for little Tidiane.

As the time drew nearer for their departure date, the war in Mali was escalating. To make matters worse, the government of Mali decided to follow Russia’s lead and put a ban on foreigners from being able to adopt Malian orphans. People were leaving Mali in a max exodus. Undeterred, the brave couple boarded their flight for Mali on January 2, 2013. On January 3 they finally received the long awaited custody of their beloved son, Tidiane. In Antonio’s own words his days in Mali were the most intense time of his life. The Bonache family did not return home to Spain until January 6.

Fast forward 2 months later. Baby Tidiane, Papi Antonio and Mami Yolanda are in seventh heaven. Tidiane is a bright, happy-go-lucky toddler who hungers for knowledge. A fairytale ending for a fairtale family who bravely embraced the odyssey of adoption that took them miles away from the comfort of their home in Spain.

May more childless couples step forward and open their arms, hearts and their homes to the world’s children in need.

Status of War Torn Mali

Orphelinat Niaber

Bamako Mali, a country that once prided itself as being one of the most progressive nations in the African continent is in a sad state of affairs today. While I was there during the coup d’etat of June of 2012 I was able to witness first hand the ramifications of an ongoing political tug of war. The parliaments and governmental offices located in the capital of Bamako are all on the same side of the Niger river. Access to this area is restricted by 3 bridges. The ousted government in a tit for tat retaliation countered by closing all three bridges after everyone left their offices during their lunch break. No one was allowed back until the next day. Upon arrival they discovered that all of their computers, servers and documents were GONE. All legal documents, records, deeds, land titles, you name it, were also GONE. Fast forward to 7 months when the French government decided to intervene and help its former colony. Getting emergency supplies into Mali has been difficult throughout the ongoing civil war. Even now with the French forces on the ground in Mali it is still very difficult to get supplies to the needy. We have been sending money via western union to the orphanages we support. Another non profit has figured out a way to get supplies to the needy safely by partnering with local NGOs GRAT (Groupe de Recherche et d’Applications Techniques) and APH (Actions de Promotion Humaine). So far they have been able to get food to 50,000 people. Bravo! What a smart move to partner with local teams on the ground. This is indeed the safest solution as the locals are better equipped to navigate throughout the country, in unmarked vehicles and without drawing attention to themselves. Hopefully, some of our larger non profits will learn from their example and be able to do the same in Syria as well as other countries in need.

Bridging Humanity Visits African Orphanage

Orphelinat Niaber

The Orphelinat Niaber was founded in 1993 by Mali Sangho. The orphanage is located in a village outside of Bamako, Mali, West Africa. Madame Sangho started her foundation to care for infants and children who were being abandoned on the streets and in hospitals. She has helped many children grow up to live healthy, happy lives. Bibi, as she is affectionately known by many, also helps the villagers that surround her orphanage by creating jobs for them. The orphanage currently houses 13 infants and 6 toddlers and has a satelite site at a remote village that was built to care for a blind woman. Bibi found this young blind woman when she was only 11 years old and living on the streets of Bamako. Amako is now 19 years old and has a home for life at the Orphelinat Niaber.

In June 2012 Bridging Humanity spent time teaching their team how to harvest rain water, grow a perma culture garden and make useful items out of trash. We also introduced the founder of the orphanage to various global non profits with local offices located in Bamako, Mali.

Thank you Bibi and team Orphelinat Niaber for having such a big, caring heart! We love you and the kids!