Watching the children in Mali, my heart sometimes catches. For many of our children in Mali, there is no future under the current circumstances. Many of them will never have the opportunity to make something of themselves. Many girls will get married of by the time they are 15. Many boys, having no better option, will farm or follow the family business. Many more will remain without a job and with no opportunity, will join the masses that beg on the street to supplement what they make so they can take care of their family.
The one thing that can truly help shape Mali into a success story in the long run is education. Today 70% of Mali’s population is in the age group 0-25. Yet only 31% of Mali’s population is literate. This figure is even lower for girls. While the government was able to put an elementary school in most villages, much of Mali’s 80% rural population lacks a middle school. Simply, because the government does not have the resources to build middle schools. So, after 6th grade, many children will drop out of school simply because they have no access to one. For many a middle school is several villages and towns away.
I cannot imagine my children walking 5 miles (7km) a day to go to school. Not just once, but 4 times because in Mali, children return home for lunch. Now add in dirty, dusty roads and predators and you have a situation where most parents will keep their children at home.
For the past 14 years we have raised awareness about the one thing that has impacted our own lives. And that is the power of education. Yeah and I have both been blessed with extraordinary circumstances and blessings. And it is our education that has taken us many places. But not just that, it is our education that ensures that our own children will never know the pain of hunger or the lack of opportunity. Our parents by giving us an education helped break the cycle of poverty and the lack of opportunities that spring from illiteracy.
Through the work of our foundation Empower Mali, we have helped bring more than 24 middle schools to Mali. By putting schools in remote villages, education becomes accessible. Especially for young girls.
As a Mayor, efficient transparent use of tax revenue allowed Yeah to bring the first high school in Ouelessebougou, fix dilapidated school structures and ensure no teacher shortages.
As Ambassador, he made education a key part of our mission. Yeah was able to partner with universities to garner scholarships for our Malian students to come study in India and the 9 other countries we served. Additionally, he helped create a safer environment for our Malian students and made himself fully accessible to our students.
As President, one of the key things we will do is help build more middle schools and teachers housing in remote villages. By building teachers housing in the villages, it encourages teachers to stay long term in the villages. Additionally, we hope to provide adult literacy classes, additional training for teachers and incentivize parents to keep their kids in school.
We should not condemn our future generations to a life without a good education. Otherwise the cycle of poverty will continue. Education remains the cornerstone of development.
Mali’s hope is Yeah Samake. We can sit all day long and talk about what Mali’s leaders are pretending they do. Or we can look at a record of a man who has done much for his community in Ouelessebougou, and as an Ambassador. A man of the people. Yeah Samake.
We can do this! We can bring change to Mali. Become a part of our journey and help our bid by donating $50 at www.yeahsamake.com