RSS

Tag Archives: development education

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!!

BF8W5409 FirstladyofMali

ForeignMinister of MaliBF8W5574 BF8W5809 BF8W6014 BF8W6128 BF8W6149 BF8W6155 BF8W6159 BF8W6164 BF8W6359 IMG_1740 IMG_2265 IMG_2301 IMG_0011_1_11_Mali IMG_0011_2_11_Mali IMG_0011_3_11_Mali IMG_0011_4_11_Mali 2015-10-31 18.21.24 2015-10-29 15.16.10

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!

 

Advertisements
 
5 Comments

Posted by on November 10, 2015 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

A New Adventure!

YeahMarissaIndiaAmb

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!

*******************

* 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.

banner

MOVING MALI FORWARD

 
3 Comments

Posted by on July 16, 2015 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Empowering Change

Stats about MALI

With one the poorest, most illiterate economies, Mali has already been served the grittiest of challenges. With challenges in many domains ranging from health to education, daily living seems impossible. So how do Malians manage?

4+ years on the ground in Mali has allowed me to truly see and understand the many challenges Malians face each day, especially in the remote rural villages. I have big respect for the people of Mali. They make the best of what they have. And they possess a desire to improve their circumstances. This is evident when we see villagers traveling for days from remote areas coming to request our foundation Empower Mali to help build a school or presenting a project in clean water. They come with the knowledge and willingness to participate financially. During the project, there are many hands involved from every community group in the village. And when the project is completed, each and every person celebrates knowing that their lives and the lives of their children will be just a little better for it.

Through Empower Mali, some great work to empower our communities is happening in Mali! And it would be impossible without generous hearts willing to help make a difference.

ThankyouWatkinsFamily2We have some Big News! Empower Mali has received a generous tractor and 3-classroom middle school donation by the Watkins Family of Alpine, Utah. We are grateful for their long-term investment in our communities. Their tractor donation will be used as part of our food security program in the region of Ouelessebougou and their school donation will help build the Micah Shea Watkins Academy in the village of Dongorona. The rural village of Dongorona is situated in the community of Oueléssébougou, Mali. With a population of 1300 households, there are 260 children currently attending primary and middle school. Many more have dropped out after 6th grade. The primary school, built in 1981, houses grades 1-6 and currently has 200 children, of which 36 are in the final 6th grade. Currently 60 children will walk the 12 miles each day to attend the neighboring middle school in Simidji. The road they walk is a main road which is continuously busy with many buses/cars/trucks travelling dangerously fast. Many parents in the village have withdrawn their girls because of fear of having them walk that long distance alone. A school in the village will give these girls an equal chance at an education and prevent early marriages. We hope to have this middle school ready for the children when school starts in October. Read more about this amazing donation here

We are also grateful for the kind donation of a potable water treatment system through Utah based Alpine Technical Services and AllChem. The system which will be installed in Dongorona will provide 1300+ households with clean water and ultimately a healthier life.

These past few months we have also been focused on finishing up the three classroom middle school, computer room and teachers housing for the remote village of Falla. We are now at roof level and in the next couple of months we will be putting on the roof and painting. This school too will be ready for the new school year in October.

June_Falla

The three classroom middle school, computer and teachers housing in FALLA

So many exciting things are happening !! A big shout out on behalf of our people in Mali to each and every one of you who have helped empower our communities in Mali.

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 10, 2015 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Building a future in FALLA

Marissa_FirstbrickFALLAThe joy in Falla is immense.

The excitement palpable.

The investment in Falla’s future generation immeasurable.

And YOU made it possible !

February 7th, 2015 will be a day that will be remembered for a long time by the citizens of the village of Falla. On this day, I was honored to represent all our kind donors as we laid the foundation stone of the Falla Academy. This middle school was only made possible because of the generosity of our supporters, friends and family.

Thank you for making this dream a reality and helping us on our mission to educate Mali one village at a time!

Falla, which has a population of 1,587 children is a 6 hour dusty and bumpy ride from the main city of Bamako. It is a very remote village located in the circle of Kolondieba in the Sikasso region.

Currently, there is a primary school in the village. After 6th grade, some children will walk 7-12 KM to middle schools in the neighboring villages of Touloula, Sikoro, Donkerila and Tiekongo. The long distance is a deterrent and many children drop out after 6th grade with many girls getting married and many boys working in the mines or farms.

With all middle schools our foundation Empower Mali builds, the village is required to show their commitment by providing 20% of the cost of the school and the land. The people of Mali do not want a hand out and with it sustainable development becomes impossible. The village commitment was fulfilled by Falla born Mamadou Kone, a Malian entrepreneur who now resides in the US. The remaining funding will be provided through our foundation Empower Mali. USD 50,000.00 was donated through a generous individual who wishes anonymity and the remainder through the kindness of other individual donors.

The event was attended by all the educational authorities in the area, a Parliament Member from the area and the entire village. The village chief, on behalf of his village, expressed their full support for the success of this project. The 3-classroom school when completed will house about (150) 7th-9th grade students from Falla and surrounding areas.

We are grateful for all who contributed to making this school a reality for the people of Falla. Construction should last about 3 months with the school being used for the new school year in October 2015.

In a country where literacy hangs dangerously low at 31%, this school will become an equal opportunity life changer for boys and girls in the area giving them a chance to finish at least their 9th grade exams, which is a basic requirement for most decent paying jobs and a rarity for most children and adults.

Education MaliThe groundbreaking ceremony was also covered on Mali’s National TV ORTM. You can watch it at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpIM6bngN8I

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 4, 2015 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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

PerksforFala

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.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 16, 2014 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Why we do what we do

malichildf

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. 

donateButton

God bless Mali and all Malians everywhere!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Turn the Page

malibuzzimg

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.

violeursdumali

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

donateButton

 
3 Comments

Posted by on July 20, 2013 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: