What a busy couple of months it has been since our plane touched down in New Delhi, India!! The sights, smells and sounds of Delhi has brought back many beautiful memories. It has been 15 years since I returned back home to India and so far the experience has been marvelous. If anyone had said to me a few years ago, that I would be in India in service of the Malian people, I would have laughed. Our kids were amazed and did not believe it when we were called to serve in India. For many years, Keanen and Carmen would talk about India and how since they had lived in their dad’s country, they now wanted to visit their mom’s country. And what better way to do it than to help represent Mali’s interest in India.
On August 16th, our family and dog arrived safely in New Delhi. As we walked out of the plane we were greeted by the Mali Embassy team based in Delhi. But the welcome was not over yet. We were then welcomed by the Ambassadors of all the West African nations that are based in India. It was truly such a warm welcome and an unexpected honor. What a great start to our journey in India!
Just one short week later, we were in for another auspicious occasion. Yeah welcomed the First Lady of Mali, Her Excellency Madame Keita Aminata Maiga, and her delegation who arrived in New Delhi to attend a week-long conference on ending child and maternal deaths. Being an issue that is close to her heart, she spoke to Ministers of Health from many countries and Indians leaders on what Mali is doing to create a safer, healthier environment for both mothers and children. Reducing infant mortality while ensuring mother safety is a key part of her mission as a First Lady. It was an honor to meet her and it was interesting to notice a humility and down to earth nature that is usually not common to someone in such a high position. The trip was a first for the First Lady and an undoubted success!
The very next week, on September 2nd, in an official ceremony, Yeah got to present his credentials to the Indian President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee.
And I was honored to watch him do this. What a once in a life time experience! With close to a billion population, not many Indians can say they shook hands with the President. The ceremony was amazing and awe inspiring. I am so proud of Yeah and all he has done to reach this stage of his career. After Yeah presented his credentials and the greetings of the President of Mali, he visited with the President to discuss the Mali-India relationship and what he hoped to accomplish to strengthen ties between the two countries. It was truly a special, memorable day. And the feeling of sitting in a car, flanked by Indian armored cars, with the Mali flag fluttering high, is just incomparable. In the months to come, Yeah will present his credentials in the 9 other countries we oversee: Bangladesh, Nepal , Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand.
Since that auspicious day, in an effort to strengthen Mali-Indian ties, Yeah has held audiences with Indian businessmen from many different fields of interest to Mali. He also visited with the Indian Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation Dr. Mahesh Sharma.
Yesterday, Mali celebrated her 55th Independence day. And what better way to celebrate this special day than with Malian students in the city of Bangalore. Many of the Malians that are in India are students pursuing a higher university degree. Yeah and his first counselor flew in to Bangalore to meet with the Malian student body. During their time, he visited with the students to better understand their goals and the challenges they face studying in India. This visit will open up opportunities to better place Malian students and also provide a better support system for them through the Embassy.
It has truly been a busy yet fulfilling few weeks. Our goal here in India, is to increase the profile of Mali and to create many more opportunities for the two countries to grow stronger together. And the start has been simply amazing!