Tinait Association of Timbuktu
To Aid the
TINAIT Association was formed and registered officially with the Malian Government in Timbuktu in 1998. Its purpose is to obtain economic support and financial aid for the refugee communities of Tuareg nomads in the environs of Timbuktu who were forced to flee Mali into Mauritania during the Tuareg Rebellion in 1993. Many fled overnight, taking very little with them. Those who reached Mauritania lived for two and a half years in three refugee camps established by the International High Commission for Refugees. The rebellion ended on March 26, 1995 marked by the ceremony held in Timbuktu referred to as the “Flame of Peace.” At this time the refugees were officially invited to return to their ancestral territories in Mali.
Within Tuareg tradition it has always been considered shameful to ask another for help. However, living conditions for those returned refugee families were horrendous. They had lost all their herds during the course of the rebellion and now had no way in which to feed and support themselves. In 1998 a group of Tuareg from these various communities around Timbuktu formed an organization which would allow them to recreate their lives and ensure their survival as Tuareg, asking for help in doing so from the national and international communities.
The association took the name TINAIT, which in the Tuareg language of Tamashek, means “the novelty”, conveying the unprecedented willingness of the Tuareg to recognize that asking for help is not shameful but only beneficial for the growth and well-being of their children and the survival of their traditions.
However, there is still little, if any government support given to these communities. There is no health center or health campaigns, no schools and little technical support for the advancement of agricultural projects. As the actual herds are small, many people, in particular the children, suffer from malnutrition.
During my visit to Timbuktu in March, 2000 I was introduced to TINAIT by its founder and president, Jiddou Ag Almoustafa whom I had actually first met in Timbuktu in 1988 when he was a young cameleer. Jiddou took me to two of the TINAIT communities and detailed for me the objectives of the association and its specific needs.
This is a very appropriate organization for TurtleWill to support, as this is a population that might not otherwise be touched. Our support includes mobile medical clinics, new wells and an irrigation pump, animal loan programs, gardening projects and handicrafts cooperatives.
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