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Strengthening ties with India

2015-10-24 23.17.42The last week in October was probably the most important, hectic week so far in our diplomatic career. During this time, India held its 3rd Africa India summit and hosted about 54 African nations in an effort to boost ties between the continent of Africa and India. In the biggest event since 1983, 42 African presidents attended this grand summit .

We had a unique opportunity to host the President of Mali, H.E. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the First Lady of Mali, H.E. Madame KEITA Aminata Maiga, a delegation of six Malian ministers and 15+ government staff. What a nail biting yet amazing experience!!

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During the weeklong event, Mali had an opportunity to share with India the many ways that we can grow a mutually beneficial relationship with India. The Foreign Minister H.E Abdoulaye DIOP extended his gratitude for the military support provided by India while encouraging India to further strengthen its cooperation  in the area of ​​peace, security and the fight against terrorism. The Indian PM Narendra Modi announced a 10 billion USD line of credit, aid amounting to 600 million USD over the next 5 years which includes a India-Africa Development Fund of 100 million U.S. dollars and an India-Africa Health Fund of 10 million U.S. dollars and 50000 scholarships for African students over the next 5 years.

In his address, our President, His Excellency Mr. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita first paid tribute to the longstanding friendship and cooperation between India and Africa that were strengthened by leaders like Gandhi, Presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser, Nkrumah, Modibo Keita, Nelson Mandela and Jomo Kenyatta.

He denounced terrorism and violent extremism, which according to him, is now one of the most serious threats to peace and security and noted that the fight against these evils must be at the center of the joint action of the Partnership. He stressed the potential of both parties and called for a strengthening of the strategic partnership for economic and social development of India and African countries.

He also took the opportunity to express its deep gratitude and that of the people and Government of Mali to all countries friendly to the multifaceted and ongoing support to Mali.

During his meeting with the Prime Minister of India, H.E President Keita expressed his gratitude to India for providing Mali with soldiers to protect the North of Mali. Our President also expressed interest in growing Indian investment opportunities in the fields of agriculture and technology in Mali. PM Modi  further invited President Keita back for a separate bilateral visit to India.

President Keita also took an opportunity to meet with the Malian student leaders from Bangalore. He expressed his support for them and his joy in meeting them.

During this time, I also had an opportunity to spend some time with the First Lady of Mali. I continue to be amazed at her genteel and down to earth nature. During the spouses program, we had an amazing opportunity to visit the beautiful Akshardham temple. During her time at the temple, she joined other African First Ladies in offering  prayers for world peace and harmony by offering ‘abhishek’, the ceremonial pouring of sanctified water from 151 holy rivers, lakes and ponds across India on the sacred image of Sri Neelkanth Varni. About the visit, the First Lady said: The visit was really educative. It is a place of peace, humanity and wisdom. Simply magnificent and a beautiful monument. May we keep inspiring from the past values to make our life more beautiful. Well done to Indian people for their ingenuity work.”

The last night, our delegation was received by a big Indian delegation that introduced us to the mystery of Bollywood and the true Indian culture. The night was filled with great music and good Indian food. This experience left quite a indelible unforgettable mark among all our delegation.

This summit was monumental in terms of the endless possibilities to grow Mali and India’s friendship. Yeah and I gained a fresh perspective on how we can move Mali forward in our role. We learned so much more about diplomacy and had a chance to experience it truly at work. What an unforgettable, mind blowing experience all round!

 

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Posted by on November 10, 2015 in Past Posts

 

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A New Adventure!

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Well! It’s all official. The President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, nominated Yeah the new Ambassador of Mali to India.

My country INDIA!! Whohooo!!! I am super excited to return back to my country. After 4+ years in Mali, the kids and I have had a wonderful opportunity to learn and experience the Malian culture and traditions. We have come to love the Malian people like our own and to understand intimately the many challenges they face on a daily basis. Through Yeah’s role as Mayor, we have enjoyed many unique experiences and learned much about local governance and the ability to impact the citizens of Oueléssébougou. Running the campaign was a whole different ball park and it was probably the biggest challenge we have lived through. The kids have adapted amazingly well to life in Mali. We came here when Keanen was 5 years old and Carmen barely 3, where they knew only English and the comforts of America. When we first came, the adjustment was hard, the challenges many. But we were blessed with courage at our most difficult times. Now the kids speak French fluently and I have been able to learn both French and Bambara. Through school and our different road trips, our children have enjoyed the beauty of experiencing different cultures. They have accompanied us on the many projects that have taken us to many villages and communities all over Mali. Road trips took on a whole new meaning and I have to say they have loved it!! Through our foundation Empower Mali, we have continued to partner with rural communities in Mali to make an impact in education, clean water/energy and leadership development. The high level partnerships and contacts we have in Mali and the United States will allow us to continue fundraising and implementing the work we are doing. We have no plans to stop building schools, providing scholarship opportunities abroad or increasing access to basic rights like clean water and food.

So much accomplished and so many great experiences lived in just 4 years. When I first started this blog 4+ years ago, I could not have predicted this. I can hardly wait to see what the next few years hold for our family. India will be a new experience for us all. It has been 15+ years since I have visited. I am excited for the kids to learn my own culture/traditions and get to experience the different religions and exotic cultures all housed in one beautiful country. Not to mention the opportunity to travel the many surrounding countries where we will also serve.

While we will mainly be based in New Delhi, the India Mission will cover 10 different Asian countries. We will have an opportunity to serve Malians and grow relations between Mali and all these countries. The countries are: India, Bangladesh, Nepal , Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand. For 11+ years, Yeah has shown he can help move Mali forward at a local and national level. Now I am thrilled that he has received the opportunity to play this role and will be able to make an impact on a larger national and international level. In this day and age, Asia has shown herself to be a big player and by helping grow relationships Yeah has the opportunity to create many partnerships that will help many Malians abroad and at home.

Yeah said the following in a recent press release: ” Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta announced that he has appointed me as the next Malian Ambassador to the Republic of India. The jurisdiction of the post in New Delhi, India covers 10 countries: India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.

As a result of this appointment, I will soon travel to India with my family to begin my work representing Malian interests in these countries. I am grateful to President Keïta for this opportunity and look forward to representing Mali in this new role.

Malians benefit in many ways from trade with India, whether it be through our increased electricity or access to high-quality medicines resulting from Indian imports, or from our sales of cotton and other agricultural products to India that puts money in the pockets of Malians across the country. This continued and growing trade partnership is improving the lives of citizens in both countries, and I look forward to building upon this relationship in the coming years.

As Mayor of Oueléssébougou over the last six years, I have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of everyone in our area. When I was first elected, less than ten percent of the population paid taxes, and government workers were owed six months of salary. When measured in terms of our governmental management and transparency, our commune was at the bottom of the list. Six years later, I am proud to say we have transformed our area, making it one of the most respected and admired areas in all of Mali. Today, 86 percent of our citizens pay taxes, and our area is seen as a model of transparent and effective government. Working with our city council and other local leaders, I have also brought investment and critical infrastructure to our area as well. We now have a hospital in our area. We have a high school for our children, and we have more primary schools as well. We have improved our water infrastructure. We have the largest solar panel field in West Africa. We are helping farmers with equipment so they can make their land more productive. Instead of citizens waiting weeks for their local government to help them with requests, now they wait only days—with many receiving help on the same day. We have shown this type of transformation is possible in Mali.

In recent years, I have also worked as a part of Empower Mali and other foundations to help build schools for our children, provide scholarship opportunities to children in Mali to study abroad, purchase tractors for our farmers, and construct hospitals for our communities. While I am committed to my role as Ambassador, I will also continue to actively ensure through my contacts on the ground that our projects on the ground in Mali continue to grow, benefiting the communities in rural Mali. I urge Foundation benefactors to continue to support this work and encourage others to get involved as well.

I have worked hard every day as Mayor of Oueléssébougou to make lives better. It is with great honor that I accept the position of Ambassador to India, and I look forward to continuing my service to Mali in this new role. While this new position will take me away from my friends in and around Oueléssébougou, it will give me the opportunity to improve the lives of all Malians across the country and abroad. ”

This opportunity is just simply amazing! We are emboldened by the vote of confidence shown by the Malian government. I am so proud of Yeah and all he has done and continues to do to make Mali a better place. I have not met a more honest man or one that is very committed to making an impact for all his people in Mali. We are so grateful for all our supporters who have stayed the course with us. Our success today is in part due to your vote of confidence and support for all we do.

The journey to achieve a new Mali is not over yet. In fact, we have started a new phase. Keep you posted. Thank you for helping bless our people in Mali. May you be blessed!

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* Check out our work in Mali through the Empower Mali Foundation at www.empowermali.org
Want to help impact change in rural Mali? Make a tax deductible donation today. All donations online are secure. Checks can also be sent to Empower Mali, P.O Box 708514, Sandy, UTAH 84070.

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MOVING MALI FORWARD

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2015 in Past Posts

 

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Educating Fala

2014-11-09 23.38.30IMG_0099Every morning, at the crack of dawn, there is a buzz of activity on the outskirts of the village of Fala. Every morning, young boys aged 12 and over, ropes slung over their back where bags should be will walk to the unapproved mines on the outskirts of Fala to begin their 10 hour shift. Mali remains the third biggest producer of gold in Africa producing close to 50 tonnes per year. Much of this gold money will never reach many of the people that work on the ground. So why do it? Because for these inhabitants of Fala, this is the only option.

The residents of Fala, like many villages in Mali, are fighting to make ends meet. They understand and see the power of an education when they see the better life of people in the city, but what are they to do. Where others have schools, they have mines. So they do what they must do to survive.

Meeting with the village leaders and parents of Fala, their plea is uniform when they ask Empower Mali to help bring a middle school to their village. The school will keep their young boys from the mine and give them an opportunity to break the cycle of illiteracy and poverty. The middle school will save their girls from early marriages. When you invest in a school in Fala, you are not investing in a building. You are investing in a life which then has the capacity to impact a generation in the village.

Empower Mali ( empowermali.org) is a 501c3 foundation. We want to bless our children in Mali with opportunities but those cannot happen without donations. We build our schools to last many generations and for a lot less than the government. The school is a shared investment that the village continues to take care of because they contribute 20% of the cost and all land and labor.

We are trying to raise the final $8000.00 we need to make a 3-classroom middle school a reality for the village of Fala.

Check out our campaign to raise the final 8K. We have some fun, ethnic Malian gifts for those who donate. They are limited so hurry!

Whatever you can spare this holiday season will help impact the lives of 1587 children and a village for generations. And your donation is tax deductible.

Check it out at. The campaign will end November 23rd, 2014, so please make your donation soon.

Please donate and/or pass the word at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/build-a-school-in-the-village-of-fala-mali/x/8821378

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THE FUN PERKS YOU CAN CHOOSE FROM:

For $25, a beautiful Malian beaded necklace

For $50, a handcrafted Mother and Child statue –Handcrafted by artisan Pascal Mounkourou, this beautiful statue is a reflection of this Christmas season. It represents Mother Mary and Jesus–the reason for the season.

For $100, an authentic Malian Bambara mask: Ritual and ceremonial masks are an essential feature of the traditional culture and art of the peoples of Mali. Masks usually have a spiritual and religious meaning and they are used in ritual dances and social and religious events, and a special status is attributed to the artists that create masks and to those that wear them in ceremonies. In most cases, mask-making is an art that is passed on from father to son, along with the knowledge of the symbolic meanings conveyed by such masks.

All the masks we have are handcrafted by Malian artisans and are a beautiful reflection of a deeply traditional culture.

For $200, an intricately designed hunter “doso” statue: Equipped with a bag of arrows, this intricately carved hunter statue by artisan Pascal Mounkourou is a representation of Mali’s hunters. During ancient times, hunting was one of the biggest professions ( after farming) among the Malian men. The hunters of Mali are still a celebrated group in their communities and Mali. These traditional hunters are called “dozo” in Bambara. It is believed that the amulets (In Bambara: gris-gris) worn by Dozos possess magical properties protecting them from harm, and amplifying their vision and hearing. Such amulets are said to make them bulletproof.  The design is so intricate on this one that each statue takes 3 days to make.

These make for some great holiday gifts for your friends and family! And every dollar raised goes to the middle school in FALA.

Education is the pathway to opportunity and we want to bring opportunity and hope to our children in Mali.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2014 in Past Posts

 

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Why we do what we do

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Think about the future of your children when you vote

 

With 5 days to go, all I can say is Mali’s future is at stake. We are determined now more than ever to affect change. Mali cannot remain destitute for 20 more years.

On July 28th, Malians will choose their destiny. They will either say they want to stick with the old corrupt guards or go with a new leader with fresh ideas and someone who has served them.

For us the Presidency is a means to an end. An end in which we can make Mali the great, prosperous nation that can enjoy education and healthcare for all citizens.

This video captures perfectly our vision and our passion. We thank our Alma Mater BYU for sharing our story. We all have the ability to make a difference in our own corner of the world. Don’t miss it!

Here are some shots from the last few days of campaigning in Koutiala, San, Segou, Commune IV, Kenedougou, Koury and Mopti to name a few

I thank all our supporters for donating to our campaign, especially when we issued an announcement for a $30,000 need. In the last three days we were able to raise $10K. We are still trying to raise $20000 to be used on the actual day of elections to be able to send our members in each voting area to ensure no voter fraud happens. There are 8 regions in Mali containing 703 cities. The money covers their transportation to/from the regions and their food.

Asking for money is not something I am comfortable doing. But we need your help. If you can help, no matter how big or small, please help push us closer to that $20,000 goal. 

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God bless Mali and all Malians everywhere!

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Turn the Page

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This past week, it has been extremely interesting to hear the other candidates speak. Like parrots they speak the words “turn the page”, an adage coined and displayed first by the Samaké campaign. But what does it mean to truly turn the page?

Look at Mali today. Where does Mali stand despite all its resources in cotton, agriculture and gold? Mali is the second biggest producer of cotton in the world and the 3rd biggest producer of gold in Africa. Yet, one only has to walk into the streets to see the beggars line up. The Malian people are a strong people. They have done their best to make the best of the bad situation.  During the crisis of last year, there are many people that have taken to the streets to sell goods. That is one of the things I love most about the Malian people. While some might see it as being resigned to their fate, I see it as them making the most of what little they have. And that is a quality few countries can talk of.

Look at the candidates running. There are 28 candidates. They each talk of what they will do for the country when they become President. Many candidates have a platform, few have a clean track record of being doers. Most of these candidates have held positions of power. They have been ministers, prime ministers and directors of government agencies. There is not one of these candidates that can say they have helped the country during their leadership tenure. If anything they have eaten the country’s money while the people around them get more destitute. Nepotism and corruption have run high and no good has come from their tenure. And then after their terms, which they have tried to prolong, they become critics of the government’s policies. So first you have inaction and then you have talk, both of which are useless and cheap.

On the other hand you have the young candidates. There are some candidates who have been paid off by the older candidates to run so as to take away votes. Some have created secret alliances with the old class yet they preach of change. Still some have dirty hands themselves having embezzled money in the positions they held.

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This is the political landscape we are fighting in. We are not in this for the fame, the money or the glory. We could sit in America and make 10 times what we will ever make here. For the past 10 years we have shown the Malian people, where we have worked, a different way of life. With each school we helped build, we have helped educate a village and villages around it. With each water pump we have installed, we have brought health and clean water to a community. With each hospital/clinic we have helped build, we have brought accessible healthcare to the community. While others candidates talk of change, we have brought change.

While the country has regressed, the communities where we have worked have grown and prospered. Ouélessébougou is a prime example of that. While the rest of country languishes with daily power cuts, Ouélessébougou enjoys electricity 24/7 ( except during a bad storm). Today Ouélessébougou sits at the #7 position out of 703 cities in Mali. When Yeah took office 4 years ago, it was 699 out of 703. People say, oh well, running a town is much different than running a country. We say, change happens at the bottom and if each town was empowered to change their future instead of an ineffective government trying to determine it, Mali would be a very different place. If each community had a university and a school, children from the village would return home and try to improve the community instead of clustering in the cities that have the university.

Change. The time for Change is here. Mali deserves better. And it is up to us to help change Mali. Each of us has the ability to make a difference. Each of us has the ability to empower communities in Mali, whether you are in Mali or in the rest of the world. The biggest lack right now is not that the Malian people don’t know, it is that they don’t know better. This has been their life for 50 years, if not more. Mali is as poor and destitute as it was 50 years ago. Its 20 year democracy has been a sham where leaders have been propelled into power through voter fraud.

Change. Change for Mali. Change in Leadership. The time has come to Turn the Page on Bad Government. The time has come to Turn the Page on Irresponsible Leadership. The time has come for the Malian people to prosper. That will not happen under the candidate IBK. That will not happen under the candidate Soumaila Cisse or Modibo Sidibe. That will definitely never happen under the candidate Ahmed Sow, Soumana Sacko or Dramane Dembele.

Yeah Samaké is the only man who has served his people and if given the chance he can mould Mali’s future into a prosperous one filled with opportunities for every race, religion and background.

July 28th is the day that Mali’s future will be determined. July 28th is the day when either the chains of illiteracy, poverty and death will be broken or strengthened.

We are on a race to raise $30,000 more to staff precinct captains that can watch for voter fraud in all 703 cities in Mali. Do not let them win by stealing yet another opportunity from the Malian people for change. Already, the older candidates are starting to tell lies about Yeah in the hopes of taking votes away from us. Help us secure Mali’s prosperous future.

Help us Turn the Page at http://www.samake2013.com

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Posted by on July 20, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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COUNTDOWN 15 DAYS

This past Wednesday, another important milestone in this campaign was reached. PACP officially celebrated the candidature of Yeah Samaké at the Palais de la Culture in Bamako, Mali. The 3000 place hall was jam packed and overflowing with people from all walks of life. However, the biggest age representative was the youth who showed up in packs to support Yeah Samaké and the PACP.

This was an amazing event. It gave us a new opportunity to fire up the youth that has already been so driven. So many youth traveled from as far as Ouélessébougou, Sikasso and Koutiala ( 6 hours away) to come attend this event. The crowd was simply breathtaking to watch and as we walked out, there was a roar of cheering that echoed through the room. It felt surreal, but it was so wonderful to see our campaigning of the last two years reach this milestone.

At the event, Yeah had the chance to reaffirm his commitment to the people of Mali. He asked the crowd to turn the page on 20 years of bad government and ineffective leadership. The words “turn the page” have now become synonymous with Yeah Samaké and are reflected in the billboards and posters that are plastered over town. Other politicians who support Yeah talk of joining the party so that together they can turn the page on 20 years of failed government and corruption.

The next day, Team Samake headed to Yeah’s hometown of Ouelessebougou where they rallied their supporters from the 44 villages. They then went on to celebrate in Misseni, Sikasso, where the Mayor of Misseni and all his councilors were leaving their political party to join Yeah’s party. In addition, one of Mali’s most famous rappers Milmo has endorsed Yeah and has been standing steadfast behind Team Samake. In fact he will tour with Yeah all over Mali during the next two weeks telling the youth to support this young candidate who has served Mali already. Also, today, the first of 3 videos played on national TV. We are so grateful for The Goodline Team Joe, Travis and Josh who traveled all the way to Mali to help us create 3 amazing videos that truly capture the Yeah Samake story and how Malians will be better off with his service like his, principled leadership and fresh perspective.

Things are moving fast and in the right direction for the PACP team and Yeah. We are so excited with all the great developments on the campaign trail!!

TWO MORE WEEKS!!!  Malians are ready for change. They are very tired of the old guard that has gotten rich at their expense.  Change needs to happen. If it does not change, Mali will continue to remain one of the poorest countries in the world with no opportunities. That is a high price for our children in Mali to pay. Together, the time has come to turn the page! Invest today in the future of Mali by investing in Yeah Samake at http://www.samake2013.com

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Posted by on July 14, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Service Before Politics

This past week was charged and full of some great events and service projects that we did in the various areas of Bamako, the capital of Mali.

Our PACP delegation headed to Baguineda where our resident eye doctor and Secretary General of PACP Aboubacar Sidiki Fomba donated his services to do free cataract surgery. In Mali, to remove cataracts, it costs about 50000 cfa ( $100) per eye. Now think about it. An average Malian will not make more than a $1.25 per day. In fact, most Malians will forgo the cost of an eye surgery because the need of food and other basic amenities for their family is a priority. Fomba has donated his services in many areas. The newest was Baguineda. In Baguineda many older people and young children were brought to get eye tests done and then the surgery. In one case, a man told us that he had bad cataracts for a few years now, and for the first time he was now able to see clearly. It makes me sad when I hear about the lack of access our people have to healthcare. With there being few specialized eye doctors, prices are high for a Malian and for many the cost is their sight. This is not the first time that the party has provided free healthcare clinics. Since the party was started in 2011, the doctors in the party have banded together to provide free healthcare services in many villages in Mali. People are amazed when they see a party that serves before they engage in politics. However, in regards to Yeah, this is nothing new. Yeah has brought many doctors and dentists to his own areas which has served people from regions as close as Sikasso and as far as Kayes. People are amazed when they hear about what Yeah has done because in essence their own leaders have failed them for so long. For them to imagine that there is  a political leader that has served his community and impacted lives is a stretch because for too long politicians have lined their pockets and not helped the country.

The next day, our delegation headed to Yirimadjo to establish and recognize a sub section of our Party PACP. The youth of Yirimadjo committed their support to the campaign.  The President of the PACP section there, Fidelle Samake confirmed their support to PACP and to continuing the fight for new leadership in Mali.

The following day, the delegation made up of PACP members Fomba, Djeneba, Kone, Fifi and Fatoumata headed to Niarela. Again they established and confirmed a sub section in Niarela. The President of the sub section, by the name of Nientao, had gathered together quite a crowd of youth in Niarela. They committed their support. To add to this great evening, the leader of the women by the name of Sympara, committed that she would support Yeah Samake and the PACP vision for a new day in Mali.

Also, an amazing movement has been growing in Mali. Recently our youth bureau headed by our youth leaders Sibiri Mariko and Salif Tigana launched a new project. They created a short video showing Yeah’s bio and all the things Yeah has done for Mali. The amazing thing about this video is that it is transferable by phones. If anything, almost 3 out 5 Malians possess a phone, if not more. So this is awesome, because we can now transfer this video and in essence create a ripple effect. In addition, our youth bureau is going full steam ahead by showing this video on projectors to large crowds during the night and on laptops/notebooks with small groups during the day in all the communes in Bamako. We hope to spread to the rural regions as well with the video, but given that this video is transferable, we can just simply send this to our section leaders in the different communes and have them show it and spread it among their communities.So far the video has been displayed on a project in 2 of the 6 communes within Bamako. Each time we had a huge number of people show up to watch the movie and find out about Yeah Samake. Bamako is one area where we have not focused our resources because a majority of Malians live in the rural areas.However people that watch this video are amazed. Many in Bamako are surprised that there exists a man who has served before he got into politics. It is like the lamp of hope re-illuminates and many of them will take the video and even give their contact info so we can get them involved in the party

I love the energy of our youth. They give me the strength and courage to continue our work. More than anything, our youth that form more than 50% of the population deserve a chance to break the cycle of poverty and desperation.  I am truly psyched at the possibilities with this group!!! They know what they want and they are not afraid to think outside the box to make it happen.

It just amazes me how each day we get new supporters. These new sub sections are a sign of growth, of life, of desire for change. Malians are eager to kill the python that has choked them for so long. They are eager to see beyond the expired visions of a failed country with no opportunities.

Please invest in our country’s future. Mali and Malians need your prayers and support. They need your voice to spread the word about Yeah Samake. We need your donation to spread this campaign in every corner of Mali. The first step to a prosperous future is getting Yeah elected. Be the spark of change and part of this amazing campaign at http://www.samake2013.com

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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