by Joia Mukherjee, PIH Chief Medical Officer

Help us build a movement.
Donate to Project Muso now.

A Project Muso community health
worker conducts a home visit.

As many of you know, PIH—working with Still Harbor, a Boston-based social justice organization—has made a conscious decision to support and foster the success of small, start-up, grass roots organizations that are trying to bring about health equity around the world.

Project Muso in Mali is one of these organizations—a small group, working with local communities to improve the lives of the least fortunate. The organization, just 2 years old, is making incredible progress demonstrating real reductions in child mortality, tangible empowerment of women and a massive increase in access to health care. Yet, after a key funder underwent a strategic reorganization of funding priorities, Project Muso is facing an urgent cash flow crisis and needs your support. Thankfully, with this threat has come opportunity and a generous supporter has agreed to match up to $30,000 of what is given over the next 30 days to help ensure Project Muso's patients continue to get the care they need.

Partners In Health and those who support us know that real, sustained change will only come from the grass roots. The solution to the problem of global inequity, poverty and injustice is pragmatic solidarity—working alongside the poor, oppressed and marginalized to achieve change. Solidarity is the tie that binds us to one another in the struggle. It is the special force—spiritual in nature—that connects us to other human beings, particularly to those striving to bring basic dignity to all, to remediate injustice everywhere. Solidarity goes much beyond social theory: It is faith, it is religion, it is connectedness.

For me, Project Muso in Yirimadjo, Mali is one of the faces of solidarity. The team of Project Muso has used malaria prevention and treatment as a battle horse to enter into the larger battle against poverty, structural violence and ill health. Founded in 2005 by Harvard Medical Student Ari Johnson and his wife Jessica Beckerman—a medical student at UCSF (and former PIH-PACT worker!), Muso team members have shown that even in a desperately poor place, community engagement in health, removal of user fees and other barriers to health care, and the assistance of the public sector in delivering care can have transformative effects on health and society.

Project Muso has achieved some of the most remarkable, tangible results a very short time—in the first 2 years (2008-2010):

  •    Fever prevalence in children younger than five years decreased from 46% to 26%;

  •    The percentage of children treated for malaria within 24 hours of their first symptom tripled from 14% to 45%;

  •    Health care use increased 136%, from 11,056 to 26,135 health center visits/year;

  •    Child mortality has DECREASED—in just two years!!!!! (full report and validation in process).

We can't give up on our community anywhere. Closing down Project Muso is not an option. It would mean turning away critically sick and destitute poor patients from care, which they would have no other way to access.

Project Muso urgently needs to raise $30,000 per month for the months of May and June to ensure that they can reach thousands of patients in urgent need of care. If we can raise $30,000 by May 13th, the funds will be matched dollar for dollar by a generous donor.

Right now the team is looking for some immediate heroic gifts to reach the match, as well as a movement of people to spread the word about their important work. We are also working to create a network of individual supporters and advisors who would like to make a longer term commitment to Project Muso's work and to the people of Mali. As a young organization with very limited staff, a little goes a very long way.

Tax-deductable donations can be made through the website at

or by sending a check or money order out to "Under the Baobab Tree" and mailing it to:

Under the Baobab Tree

1380 Monroe Street, NW Box 309

Washington, DC 20010

Thank you for considering this urgent appeal on behalf of our friends and family at Project Muso. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said,  “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” At this critical juncture, every bit will make a real difference in the lives of the patients, their families and the community of Yirimadjo.