This past weekend, we were excited to lead a 10-person strong delegation to campaign in Segou, one the ten regions of Mali. Through two days, we campaigned hard in the remote villages of Koila, Maraka Koungo and Konobougou. These events were covered by the national Mali TV Channel, other TV channels, radio and print media.
The Segou region represents 15.06 percent of the electorate with a population of 1,029,000 people, and is located 240km from the main city of Bamako. While the main city is well invested in by the central government, the surrounding villages remain poor and have limited access to quality education, healthcare and running water.
Our team first stopped in the villages of Maraka Koungo and Konobougou. There we met with many villagers and spoke about our party PACP and our hopes for a new Mali run with sound principles and good governance. We also inaugurated the first regional headquarters of the party in the region of Segou. Our party PACP is fast spreading our reach into the different regions of Mali! Yeah, accompanied by his party members, also visited the traditional and religious leaders of Segou.
The high point of our campaigning was when we visited the remote village of Koila. It was a historic moment as Koila welcomed the first presidential candidate in its history. Koila is a village accessible by its dusty, bumpy roads and is about 2.5 hours from the main city of Segou and a further 4.5 hours from the capital city. The village does not have access to electricity or running water and the villagers reside in mud huts.
As we headed towards the village, hundreds of supporters on motorcycles escorted our delegation to the village. We received gun salutes as our procession rolled in and Yeah waved to his party supporters from the car. The villagers turned out in droves to hear Yeah speak. The village leaders spoke about the challenges that they were facing, especially in the areas of healthcare and education. Currently, the children of Koila do not have a middle school and the mothers of the village do not want their children to walk the deserted rural roads to the nearest village. The result is that many of the children of the village do not have an education greater than the 6th grade. As Yeah spoke, he promised the people of Koila that he would work hard to get a middle school built in Koila because he believed that education was their right. He spoke of his commitment to help Koila fulfil their basic needs and related his own story of his life in America, our foundation Empower Mali, and what he was able to accomplish as a Mayor and Ambassador. After the event, we visited the maternity clinic and the main clinic. It was heartbreaking to visit these facilities. These could barely be called functioning. The equipment was basic and almost non-existent. There was one nurse for the main center and a midwife for the maternity center. Both emphasized a deep need for working equipment but especially for medicines. The pharmacy was almost empty. These were local government run facilities that were functioning with nothing because it seemed as if they were forgotten. Their patients had to endure no medicine and minimal preventative care. Yeah spoke emphatically against this and committed to help Koila get the necessary help they needed and especially the medicines for the population.
Koila like so many villages in Mali speak about the harsh realities that face many of our Malian brothers and sisters. Mali should not be condemned to this mediocrity. Mali is not a poor country but rather one that is suffering from bad decisions and bad governance. I truly believe that Yeah can turn this around. Yeah has the ability to make the difference.
It was such a joy to meet and visit the people of Koila, Maraka Koungo and Konobougou!! Great things are happening on the Samake2018 campaign trail. Hope is alive and the people are desperately searching for change. We believe Yeah Samake will be that change.