THE GOLDEN SAND OF LIFE AND DEATH
A few years ago the African state of Mali was covered by the real gold rush. The most part of the gold diggers come from the poorest corners of Mali, as well as from the northern regions of the country affected by the political and military crisis. Lack of work, rampant poverty and incredible stories of the lucky ones who have found large gold nuggets are pushing thousands of people into the search of gold and a better life. Today even those go to the southern region Kenieba, where rich deposits of gold are located, who a couple years ago stated that they never would go to the south and never descend into the mines. Kenieba region is located about 400 km from the capital Bamako, this is one of the three gold-rich regions of Mali. The government allows everyone to produce the golden sand free by hand and sell it to local traders — the cost of one gram of gold hovering around 50 dollars. Gold miners start their work early in the morning, at dawn, while the air has still not reached the very high temperature. The working day lasts for 10-12 hours. Huge amount of women and children work in the mines. About 20,000 children are emploeyd looking for gold in Mali according to Human Rights Watch. The most difficult and danger work in the mines is on 10 to 20 meters depth. The miners fill bags with gold ore and transmit them to the ground surface. Sometimes collapses take place in the mines, so the poor people find themselves under the rubbles. Gold bullions are transmited through dealers to the capital of Bamako after washing the ore and smelting of gold dust. At the miners’ words, working in the mine is like going to war. «You can go home only if you win, if you loose no one is waiting for you». Every day spent in the mine is a test of their own lucks. Every day brings another chance, an opportunity to get rich or stay here forever.