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The youth movement!

Team Samake

“Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society’s margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies.” — Kofi Annan

One of the most essential parts of the Samake campaign in Mali is the youth movement. The success of our campaign so far in Mali has been because Yeah has been able to get the youth involved and encourage them to become part of the Mali solution. And they should be. From a recent survey done, Mali’s youth population is the 3rd largest in the world with 47% of the 15.1 MILLION population between the ages of 18-24. (http://world.bymap.org/YoungPopulation.html). Some other studies quote even higher percentages. The youth need a voice. And Yeah has been giving that voice to them.

On a daily basis I see people who give up of their time and efforts to benefit the campaign. A few of them have been with this campaign since its inception in early 2011.

Most recently, 25 different leaders over youth associations all over Bamako banded together to form Association des Jeunes Leaders pour le changement et de la Decentralization du Mali (Association of Young Leaders for Change and Decentralization in Mali). Their goal was to use their Association and their voices among the community to help Yeah spread the message of change. As one of our volunteers, Dramane Bagayoko , reports: “We created this group to better support Yeah Samake and to spread the word about his political party PACP all over Mali. Mr. Samake spoke to us about his biography. What motivates us is that it is a powerful, incredible biography of one man who came from a village but has the vision to change Mali. We are ready to fight for Yeah Samake’s victory. We are ready to support an honest leader like Yeah Samake.The President of our Association decided that he would lead the association to fully support Yeah. We , the youth, understand that we need a person who has helped the youth and will continue to help youth. We know that Mr. Samake will create the educational opportunities for the youth so Mali can be a great country filled with many opportunities. To start our activities, we will host a number of soccer matches among the different districts in Bamako. This will allow us to raise alot of attention about Yeah Samake as these matches will be well attended by all the university students in the area. We will continue to give our voice to this leader as we believe in his efforts and we believe that he is the best chance for Mali.

Every day, new groups like these are being formed. Every day in a different region of Mali, a new group vows to help Yeah bring change to Mali. We know that this fight is not over. In fact it has just begun. Mali’s time and resources have been wasted too much by the old political class. It is time that someone gave back to Mali and Malians everywhere.

All these supporters have become a vital lifeline to Team Samake. A 24/7 commitment is not what drives Team Samaké. All our volunteers have full time jobs and commitments and still find the time to lend their voices and talents to this campaign because of their faith in the country Mali can become with a leader like Yeah. Check out the stories of our volunteers and what they are doing on behalf of Team Samake and Mali at www.isupportyeah.com. If you have a story about Yeah, reasons why you support him, or thoughts about a recent Samaké2013 event that you would like to share please email us at teamsamake@gmail.com to share your experience.

Those of you who have met Yeah know of what he is capable of and what he has already done for his people. Those of you who haven’t have read of his journey and his contributions to Mali. Yeah has the ability to change Mali for the better. Without the volunteers, this campaign would have been hard. Never underestimate the value of yourself and what you can offer. If you believe that this campaign is an effort to break the chains of poverty, illiteracy and poor healthcare, then support us. The people on the ground in Mali need change. If every person we knew donated the money they used for one morning coffee or soda, we could easily raise a $1000 in an hour. A $1000 helps us hold a rally in a big village. A $1000 can fill the gas tank of 50 motorcycles to reach the distant villages and towns. Support does not have to be financial. The power of the human voice is unmatchable. Tell a friend. Tell 100 friends. Post it on Facebook, Twitter and any other outlet you can think of. We have the ability to win this for Malians everywhere. But we cannot do this without you. This isn’t about winning the election on July 7th 2013. However the election is the first step to creating a secure Mali of equality and better living conditions. Can I count on you?

maliheart

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Mali’s future

The year 2012 has been a challenging one for Mali. Mali is already the second poorest nation in the world with issues in many sectors like healthcare, education and government. And if that is not bad enough, the coup last year has made matters worse. While Sanogo seems nowhere in the picture, it is not hard to see that not much happens without his approval. The Interim President Dioncounda is a President in name and more power lies with the Interim Prime Minister Django Sissoko, who so far seems as ineffective as his predecessor. December 2012 saw the resignation of the previous Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra as allegations circled that he was advancing his own political agenda instead of focusing on resolving Mali’s territorial integrity and helping prepare Mali for elections. After months of negotiations, the UN Security council finally backed a resolution to send an African led force to Mali to unseat the rebels in the Northern regions. Unfortunately we have seen more Islamist attacks on areas that were previously held by the Malian army. Yesterday, it was reported that there was an intense battle in the town of Konna, a small town by Mopti.Today reports show that the Malian army was able to successfully regain control of Konna.

So what does 2013 hold for Mali? One only has to be living among Malians to know that Mali is suffering internally. While Sanogo was hailed as a hero immediately after the coup, public opinion in his favor is starting to waiver. The cost of day to day goods has risen significantly and in an economy that already had a 35% unemployment rate before the coup, things seem bleak. Tourism has suffered dramatically and many hotels/restaurants are feeling the pinch. The people in the North are suffering under the imposition of Sharia law. In addition, the refugee crisis seems forgotten. It has become an issue that has been put on the back burner while Mali’s inefficient government tries to figure where it is going and what it is doing. Yeah’s most recent trip to the camps in Burkina Faso last week revealed degrading conditions. One woman in the camp told Yeah that the refugees were tired of the situation and the conditions and just wanted to return home. A home of a united Mali, not a North run by extremists.

The international community is requesting elections in April 2013. Is this doable? Many politicians, who were running prior to March 2012, have now been imprisoned or have fled the country in fear of the junta. The large parties have had to find replacements that are relatively new and unknown. In addition, some of the prior candidates are serving in the current interim government making them ineligible to run in the next elections. Finally, much of the collected campaign funds were utilized prior to the coup and so more fundraising needs to happen to replenish this fund to campaign. Despite these reasons, it is good to see that many of the old corrupt politicians are nowhere in sight to run in the next elections and that much of what is left are younger politicians with newer ideas on how to improve Mali.

However, if we don’t have elections soon, we will not have a government that is recognized as a true democracy. When you have too many players determining policy, fighting to regain the North will become harder. When you have a central leader recognized and elected by the people and a government that responds to that leader, then you have a unified front to represent Mali and regain the North. With all the forces involved from the junta to the interim President to the interim Prime Minister, you have too many faces trying to call the shots and assert authority. Elections mean one authority, one government and a stronger face against terrorism. So if that means April, we will have to be ready.

Mali cannot afford another failed government. I believe strongly, that Mali needs leadership. The issues to date have been caused by a lack of leadership. First, by the former President ATT who was overthrown and who for 10 years failed to raise the level of living. Then by Sanogo who let key parts of the country fall to rebels, while he asserted control. Then by a puppet government which has not truly led. We need to look at what is being done for Malians. While so-called Malian leaders were floundering in their self importance, it was Yeah who was meeting with other Malian politicians trying to reach a consensus on where Mali needed to go. It was Yeah educating key African and Western figures on understanding the situation in Mali from Mali’s perspective and about what was needed for Mali. It was Yeah who was bringing attention to the refugee crisis and reaching out to external organizations to send food and medical care.  Malians need a leader who isn’t self serving. They need a leader that has proved that a Malian’s life is more important than lining their own pockets. Now it is just a matter of allowing Malian voices to be heard so that free and fair elections will be held.

People ask me all the time. Why are you here? Aren’t you afraid for your family, for Yeah? I would be a fool if I said I did not fear for my family and Yeah’s well-being. I do worry, but if we don’t take this opportunity to make a difference, then the fate of 15 million people lies in the balance. Our comforts and tension is nothing compared to the suffering that Malians undergo daily.

The only hope for Mali now is to hold elections and create a strong, unified government. If Malians continue to hope the solution will come from outside, it will be too late. The economy cannot take another year of bad news.

I believe that Yeah can bring change. I believe that this campaign is not about just becoming President of a country. Rather I believe that this campaign has become a quest to restore integrity to a nation and bring hope to a people that are suffering. Too many years have passed with the Malian people being marginalized. Things need to change. Yeah possesses the skills, education and integrity needed to lead Mali. He possesses the strength and diplomacy to unify the government and restore his country.

If you believe like I do, then support us. Become a part of Team Samake and see how you can help us in 2013 to unite a country and raise hope for the people of Mali. www.samake2013.com

The Samake2012 year in review

The Samake2012 year in review

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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The hope of a nation

This afternoon, as I drove to pick my kids up from school, something caught my eyes. I saw two boys about Keanen’s age (six) hanging outside a private school. These kids had backpacks and to many it would look like these kids were just school kids. However as my car neared, I noticed the baskets these kids had on their heads. The back packs on their backs were not filled with books, but wares as they sold to anyone coming out of the school. To me it was another constant reminder of the sad reality of education in a country like Mali.

Mali is the second poorest country in the world and if one thing has been sacrificed year after year and generation after generation, it is the education system. While many government agencies claim the literacy rate is 46%, seeing the high number of children that beg on the streets or sell items, the number seems exaggerated and inflated.

In a country like Mali, aid organizations are plentiful. And for that I am grateful. However the Malian people are not asking for a handout. Life has dealt them a cruel set of cards and they are doing the best they can. What I, in my heart of hearts, believe is that my Malian brothers and sisters want a hand up. The only thing that will change this cruel fate at this stage is education.

The Malian education system is in shambles. Last year, at the high school and university level, the schools were closed down for more than half the year due to teacher strikes. Not only that, there are not enough schools at all levels to meet the demand. It is not uncommon in Mali to see 100-150 children in one class. In Mali, children don’t worry about what they will wear to school or even if they have the newest Disney backpack. Malian children worry about where they will go to school or will they be able to even go this year since their school is miles away.

It is in answer to this need, that Mali Rising Foundation was created. Two men, Adrian Escalante and my husband Yeah Samake, saw the deep need to have an organization that could answer the growing need for education for our young minds in developing countries. Today, the foundation has built 12 middle schools and 1 elementary school. The Mali Rising school in Lofine, Mali is almost completed and as soon as that is done, they will begin work on the Neways Academy school.

Now, we have the chance to build one more school this year through the Cultivate Wines Give program. It takes about 20,000 bricks to build a middle school in Mali, West Africa. Today, I am asking all my readers to contribute 40 bricks. How you might ask?

One vote= one brick figuratively speaking. Would you be willing to Vote each day till October 31st to help the Mali Rising Foundation win $50,000 to build its next school. Can you help Mali Rising get up to 20000 votes. Its sounds impossible so let’s start with one–yours!

VOTE EVERYDAY @ www.malirisingfoundation.com

The only two prerequisites are that you must be 21 and have a Facebook account.

To whom much is given much is expected. I have been blessed to have a good education. My children, because of my and Yeah’s education, have been blessed into good circumstances. I believe the children of Mali deserve the same opportunity to affect their own future. Please bless their lives.

1 minute of your time will affect their lives for generations. I am not endorsing the product/company but I know that the bigger picture I see has the need for one more school and blessings for one more village.

We all leave a carbon imprint behind. What will yours be?

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Neighborhood bands together to support their candidate

Look at those huge speakers!! Photo courtesy of tomathon.com

The relationship of neighbors is a tricky one. In America, you either hate them or like them or love them. In Mali, neighbor relationships work differently.The neighbor relationship is a sacred one in which neighbors try not to offend each other. In Faladjie, where we live, two events showed the growing support of the neighborhood for Yeah.

The first was a balani that was organized by Nana, our next door neighbor, to raise awareness about the presence of a presidential candidate in the street. A balani is a musical event in which a DJ is hired that plays music so loud that your heart pounds with every beat and your window shakes with every speaker tremor. Balani is a strain of Malian Coupé Décalé with little guitar, fast percussion and melodies played on the Balafon (Malian xylophone). Coupé-Décalé is a music style featuring mostly African instruments, deep bass, and repetitive arrangements. Music affects the very heart of Malian culture and is every bit important here as the busy social life. I remember my first balani two years ago. It was a very special event that was put on by Yeah’s family in Ouelessebougou to celebrate my arrival in the village.

This youtube video truly captures what the balani is all about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaiWl9Yz2uc

The Samake2012 balani was set to start at 5pm but like all good Malian parties started at 9pm. The music blaring invited the youth from ours and surrounding streets to see what all the noise was about. The youth put on several dances throughout the night rapping about PACP and Yeah. The DJ described Yeah’s efforts and the dream that Mali would be free of poverty and corruption if they elected a young leader who had the capacity to bring change. It was an awesome night!! Good heart thumping music, great message and a wonderful support from neighbors.

The balani gave rise to an informal meeting by the youth of the street who asked Yeah to come speak to them so they could see how to best help the campaign. It also provided an opportunity to Yeah to learn what further affects the next generation of Malians. The meeting was a success and provided additional much needed support to Yeah’s already growing campaign.

Yeah speaking in Faladjie

The political atmosphere is amazing right now. Things move so fast that each day differs in political achievements. PACP is becoming the theme of change and many Malian youth and middle aged individuals are seeing it as their chance for a changed Mali. We were blessed to receive the support of our neighborhood. May their excitement be replicated thousand fold through Mali as the election fast approaches on April 29th.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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