Today was a very special day. I got to attend an event where Yeah was one of the sponsors. The event was even more special as it highlighted a topic close to my heart. That is: education. The event was held by the Danaya Association and highlighted the donation of money and books to the school children of Niamakoro.
The number of children was amazing. As soon as we pulled up, we were greeted by children from all age groups. The main sponsors of the event were world famous Malian musician Habib Koite and Yeah. Habib has played all over the world and has even had two concerts in Utah. In his role today, he was representing UNICEF. He is the first ever Malian UNICEF Ambassador.
The event was well prepped and I immensely enjoyed having the honor to represent Yeah. This is the first time I have attended a public gathering without Yeah. Yeah is currently in Utah prepping for his foundation’s 8th annual dinner event and also raising funds for his campaign. The welcome throughout the program was recognizable and the children were grateful for the donation.
As you by now know, where there is a Malian celebration, there has to be music. There were many songs and performances. There was even a young boy about 9 years old that imitated Habib in a song. Habib was so impressed that he got up and started offering the boy some pointers. In addition there were some local artists from Niamakoro that graced this wonderful occasion.
Then I gave my first speech in Bambara. Ok I kid. 🙂 I wish I could have to let these children know how proud I was to be part of this great event. Yeah’s representative, Fomba gave the speech. He focused on Yeah’s love for educating Mali and how he had found opportunities for many children to go study abroad. He was followed by Habib. Habib spoke to the children and encouraged them to study harder from morning to evening. He also talked to them about the importance of being diligent about cleaning their hands so that they would not get sick. The event ended with a song by Habib surrounded by almost sixty children singing loud. It was quite a sight to see.
I loved what this event represented. It represented the resources to make education a reality for many children. With the books donated, the children will now have the opportunity to read rather than to just copy everything from the board since the teacher is the only one that has a copy. It represents the financial resources to pay for teachers and supplies for the students. We are lucky in the West. We have schools that are equipped to teach our children. We complain in the West that 40 children are too many in a classroom. Come to Africa and sixty children crammed into tiny desks will be a common sight. In the West we complain about how students don’t have enough books. Come to Mali and you will see three to four children hover over one text book if they are lucky. We have it good in the West. I believe that every child should have the opportunity to learn. The events from today showed me how strong girls are in school. More girls received awards than boys. However how does a girl continue to succeed and grow to be something other than a housewife when the opportunities are lacking for girls? It is an expectation that a girl will grow up, marry and have kids. This is not a bad thing. The bad thing is that this is their only fate. If the opportunities were there, girls would know that they could become doctors, judges and politicians.
When we win the Presidency in Mali, I hope to pioneer a movement that will make education the root of a child’s development. I hope to not only continue the great work that the Foundation is doing but also work with educators in Mali on ways to make education a priority for the youth. If the youth fail in this generation, the next generation of the Malian workforce will be lazy and uneducated. Then there is no hope towards turning the clock back. Mali will only sink deeper into literacy and poverty.
Here is to many more projects like the one today. May education take Mali by a storm and may all children in Mali have the right to study and have their desired career.