Country of Service: Mali Title: Small Enterprise Development Volunteer Time in Country: 2004–2007
During the first two years of Vina's service, the Concord, California, native worked with the Associations of Mahina, conducting training sessions and bringing a mobile bank to the village where she encouraged local people and associations to save their money. Vina also hosted weekly radio shows that discussed culture and community development, painted world maps in local schools, managed a well building project, organized an HIV/AIDS conference, taught bookkeeping skills to women's groups, and tutored high school students in English.
The University of California, Irvine, graduate extended her Peace Corps service a third year to work with IESC's Geekcorps as the liaison between short–term international engineering Volunteers and local managers of the village technology centers set up by Geekcorps in Mali. She also began working with Mali Chic to produce Bogolan (mudcloth) bags for the launch of Hallmark's (PRODUCT) RED line. After competing among other vendors in West Africa, Mali Chic and Farafina Tigne, another Malian art vendor, secured a $500,000 contract to produce bags for Hallmark. Vina helped Mali Chic create a budget, build a supply chain of more than 100 artisans – cloth weavers, mudcloth dyers, mudcloth suppliers, bag tailors, label makers, and quality control staff – and supported Mali Chic and Farafina Tigne in becoming the first companies in Mali to export textile products using the AGOA Category–9 visa. Vina now lives in Washington, D.C., and is working with Abt Associates on a USAID–funded project in Mali.
Smithsonian FolkLife Festival: Vina will showcase the Hallmark mudcloth bag project that she worked on during her third year alongside mudcloth artisans from Mali. She will also serve as translator for all three artisans, translating from French or Bambara to English.