As ever, we focus on the negatives. Mali is a vibrant, artistic place, renowned for its music and fabric-making. And now Japanese artist Junichi Nakane is using those fabrics do his bit for the country: by making teddy bears to sell for charity.
After a trip to Mali in 2011, Nakane was struck by the poor access to water suffered by a lot of the communities in the central plateau region, and in particular the village of Tireli. It cost far more money to bore and build a well than these people could afford. On his return to America, and inspired by the waxed fabric the Malians used in everyday life, Nakane pledged to do something for the people of Tireli.
So the Kumanokoido were born. Sewn together using fabrics from across the country, the cute little bears sold out within hours of their first limited production run going on sale. Nakane is keen to sell more, and he's offering the bears on a bespoke, build-to-order model. As well as the Malian fabric, you can also buy kumanokoido made from clashing patches of camouflage fabric. Pieces from countries like the U.S., Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Brazil could find themselves on the same bear. As Nakane explains:
"The Camo Bears are made up of camouflage from different countries that in all reality may not get along that well. This is my way of depicting anti-war and [a hopeful] unity between these countries."
It's a fun project with a serious purpose, and one that's worth supporting at a tumultuous point in Mali's history.
Find out more about the kumanokoido at the website, where you can also pre-order your own.