Considered by many to be a mythical place with gold paved roads at the end of the world, Timbuktu does indeed exist… but it has seen better days. Once a bustling city in the center of many caravan routes through the African continent, it is now a struggling place, consumed by desertification, dwindling water supplies and years of war. Yet, despite its struggles, it still hasn’t lost its magical aura and its name continues to evoke images of remoteness and wonder.
Naturally, connecting with the world is not a priority in places like Timbuktu, where steady employment and disposable income are hard to come by. Problems with rebel fighting in Northern Mali in recent years have driven away tourism from the city, leaving many tourist guides unemployed.
Luckily for postcard lovers from around the world, Phil, Bintou and Ali run Postcards from Timbuktu, a service that helps unemployed guides in Timbuktu send postcards to supplement their income. Whether you’d like to surprise a loved one with a message from an exotic place, or just to add an exotic stamp to your collection, they can help you do it with just a few clicks. The postcards they send all around the world are precious, in both the collectible sense and, more importantly, to their livelihoods. Here is Mohamed, writing a batch of cards to send:
Each card costs $10, including postage which ranges between $2.20 to Europe and $3.75 to other continents. For context, people in Bamako (Mali’s capital) are making as little as $80–90/month… so it’s easy to understand that this isn’t really something they can afford to do for fun. Postcards travel from Bamako to Timbuktu and back to Bamako, before being shipped out of Mali. Each one of them will go through several motorcycle and plane rides on its journey to its recipients.
And now, an extra incentive to check out Postcards from Timbuktu: we were so pleased to learn how postcards are making a difference in this community that we decided to help! Postcrossing is sponsoring a giveaway of 5 postcards from Timbuktu, sent to random postcrossers.
To participate, all you need to do is to leave a comment below, sharing a fact you have learned about Timbuktu. Go discover its fascinating history, and come back to share your knowledge with everyone. And who knows… you might even find a postcard from there waiting on your mailbox soon! :)
PS – This giveaway will be open for one week. The results will be chosen by Paulo's random number generator and announced on this post.