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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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Campaigning in the distant villages of Kati

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This past week was a busy one for the PACP campaign. Our youth leader Sibiri Mariko led our PACP delegations to a number of communities in Mali.

The first village that the PACP delegation went to was N’gorogodji which has about 1160 inhabitants and is in the Kati area . The village is one of the five villages that make up the municipality of Kambila. The delegation consisted of Sibiri Mariko, Sekou Traoré, Sidiki Sangaré, and Mahamane Maiga. To start of the meeting, the PACP representatnt of N’gorogodji Konimba Kané spoke. He spoke with great disgust at the politicians who visit the area and how all the promises they had made for the last 50 years had not been kept.  He then introduced the PACP delegation and allowed Sibiri Mariko to explain who PACP was and what they hoped to accomplish for Mali. He spoke of all Yeah has done for Mali already. The PACP leader in the area then urged the participants to vote for PACP and the young candidate Yeah Samake.  The major concern in this area is the high number of unemployed graduates. PACP committed to work hard to help better the lives of the people of N’gorogodji.  The residents there gave the party many blessings and urged them to continue their hard work.

The delegation also held a meeting with the youth at the national bureau of PACP to discuss Kati. There they met with the PACP youth leaders in the area and made plans on how to mobilize leaders within the community to better spread the word about PACP.

The delegation then continued on to Diaguinebougou where they met with the founding family. The members listened to the PACP delegation and made a firm commitment to support Yeah Samake and PACP.

The next day, the delgation now made up of Sibiri MARIKO, Abdrahame Mariko, Sékou Traoré, Moussa Maiga, Sidiki Dembélé and Mahamane Maiga visited Doubabougou. Doubabougou is a village and rural commune in the Cercle of Kati in the Koulikoro Region of south-western Mali. The commune contains 6 villages and has a population of 8,041+. The PACP leader there by the name of Moussa Kouyaté, introduced the PACP delegation and welcomed them to the area. Sibiri, after explaining about the party’s vision and who Yeah Samake is, called on the village to help change happen in Mali. The youth of the village had created a slogan:”Le changement radical” (The radical change) when they campaigned for PACP and Sibiri emphasized this same slogan as he spoke to the villagers. The villagers showered their blessings on the party of change and its delegation and urged them to continue their mission in all the villages of Mali.

Meetings like these are so essential. They help us determine what the needs of the Malian population are. No candidates will usually visit these areas and so the people have grown disillusioned with politics and politicians in general. Seeing candidates like Yeah Samake and the PACP party that take the time to travel to these far areas gives people hope that if they choose a leader like this, their needs will be met by the President. How can you bring your people hope and change if you do not know what afflicts them. PACP is the party of change. The party that will welcome a new day in Mali because it truly understands the chains that hold back many ordinary Malians from the different walks of life.

Many more meetings like this must happen. Today I ask you to donate $50 at http://www.samake2013.com which helps us pay the gas and chair rentals for the trip to one distant village. Today I ask you to become part of this journey and make the lives of ordinary Malians better by helping elect YEAH SAMAKE. This happens only if we can educate every corner of Mali about what their options are and who Yeah is. Today, I humbly come to you with open hands and ask for your investment in my Mali. 

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Villages of Baga and Kandian welcome Yeah Samake

A few days back, for the first time in the history of the villages of Baga and Kandian, a presidential candidate paid them a visit. The event was historic  and the villagers turned out in droves to meet a candidate for the first time. That candidate was none other than Yeah Samake.

The Chief of the village of Baga had requested to have a face to face meeting with Yeah. To honor his request, Yeah traveled to this distant village to get the Chief’s blessing. The chief solemnly promised that all his people would vote for Yeah Samake because he was the only candidate that had taken the time to come and hear the problems and concerns in the village of Baga.

Yeah also paid a visit to the Chief of the village and the people of Kandian. The people there too were extremely surprised and very pleased that a candidate would come visit them. They stated to the PACP delegation that this was the first time a candidate had come to visit them and it was a symbol and proof that they did matter. They too promised that they would support the son of Djitimou.

Yeah is one of the only candidates that was actually born and brought up in the rural areas. So he is familiar with the conditions that 80% of Malians have lived in for the last 53 years. He understands what it means to not have enough to eat, what it means to not have a job after graduation, what it means to support a big family. Here is a candidate who understands what a majority of the Malian people are suffering from because he himself has been through all the conditions that besiege ordinary Malians.

I truly believe that Yeah is the candidate Mali needs at this critical time in its history. 50 more years of inept, corrupt government will destroy this great country beyond repair. 50 more years of bad education and pathetic healthcare will push Mali and all Malians back instead of driving them forward. Mali cannot afford failed government. Mali cannot afford an inept public system that is governed badly. Mali needs a leader who is willing to listen. A leader who has acted rather than spoken about what he will do. A leader who looks at Mali and sees the opportunity to raise a great nation, not the opportunity to become rich personally. A leader who will raise Mali so that she can look in the eyes of other African nations not bow down at their feet.

That leader is YEAH SAMAKE. Join us today as we speak up for Mali. Join us so that we can make Mali the great nation she was and the great nation she can become with good honest leadership.

Learn more about Yeah Samake and our party PACP at http://www.samake2013.com ( EN) and http://www.pacp-mali.com (FR)

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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To Lead is to Serve

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On May 22nd, 2013, the Parti Pour L’Action Civique et Patriotique ( PACP) held its 1st congress. For this special occasion, more than 240 PACP delegates from the different regions of Mali came to Bamako to represent their individual sections.  The event was held at the CICB in Bamako, a meeting place for many big conventions and events.

This was a great opportunity for the various delegates who are themselves leaders in their own regions to reaffirm their support of their candidate and the party. This event was an essential one. It gave the party the chance to show and explain all the activities that PACP has been involved in since it became a party in 2011 as well as to confirm the goal of the party in achieving stability and growth in Mali.

As we walked through the doors of the CICB, we were surrounded by the youth. Their chant became the theme of the convention: UNIS NOUS GAGNONS TOUS, DIVISES NOUS PERDONS TOUS ( United we all win, Divided we all Lose). The youth support has been growing for the last 2 years and it reached a climax at the event. To see the youth volunteer their time to come support their candidate was heartwarming and encouraging. The youth make up the majority of the voting population and it is essential that we train tomorrow leaders today. We need to include these bright minds in tomorrow’s future plans for Mali. And they sure did make their voice heard as they chanted their support for Yeah Samake.

The conference started with a speech by Yeah. In it he talked about the changing dynamics in Mali. His focus was on PACP as the party of change, growth and development of Mali. Yeah spoke with great passion about all things that the party has accomplished since it was created. He highlighted the actions of the party leaders on the day the country fell to a coup. While all parties were running away from the coup leaders, Yeah was right there condemning the coup and urging Sanogo to return power back to the people. Yeah spoke about the trips he has made to many countries and the meetings with many individuals to help explain the Malian perspective on the crisis in Mali. So many times, countries get caught up the issues in Mali that they forget to include the Malian in the solution. Yeah has consistently tried and succeeded at getting the Malian perspective represented and expressed. The partnerships he has created over the last two years with different governments was evident by the presence of representatives from different embassies, including Burkina Faso, Senegal, Algeria and the US Embassy. Usually, embassies try not to get involved in the political parties, so it was heartening to see the support and respect signified by their presence.

After Yeah’s speech, the secretary general Aboubacar Sidiki Fomba spoke. He stated the facts of what PACP has done in the humanitarian and social arena. Namely the 15 schools that have been built in rural Mali under Yeah’s leadership, the multiple medical missions that continue to come each year, the scholarships Yeah has been able to get for Malian students going to America,  donation of medical supplies and equipment to hospitals and clinics through Bamako, donation of computers to the Ministry and various schools in the country, a donation of food worth about $50,000 to Malian refugees in Burkina and Mopti and a visit to the Army in Tombouctou a month ago to name a few . More recently PACP has been holding multiple health clinics in rural villages where they have been able to utilize the expertise of doctors within the party. Most Saturdays, these doctors will travel to distant villages to give free healthcare and also train fellow doctors.

This is what this party is all about. Yeah’s success today is linked to his ability to serve his countrymen and women. That is one thing I respect the most about Yeah. He is the kind of man who will go out of his way to help if he can. So for him to create a party that replicates and signifies that sense of service is essential and crucial in the process of developing Mali. The party, despite being in its infancy, is at a crucial time. In Mali today, it is very rare and almost impossible to find politicians that serve their people. Most are in it for personal agendas and gain rather than to improve the lives of the Malian people. From day one, Yeah has wanted to make Mali a model of change and success. From day one, the people’s needs have been the priority.

The congress continued with various members from key areas like Tombouctou making statements about the party’s activities in their separate areas. The guiding principles, statutes and rules were read and acknowledged by all leaders present.

The event ended with all delegations reaffirming Yeah Samaké as their candidate in the 2013 Presidential elections. Yeah was touched by their commitment and stated: “I pledge to you that I will spare no effort to carry the torch of the party, for the term that you just trust me.”

This congress was an essential one. It was a reaffirmation not only of the candidate but also of the delegates who vowed to continue to support Yeah and work on his behalf. Many of these delegates traveled from far away, some as far as a 15 hour drive. This speaks volumes about the commitment of the people that join PACP. When I talk with people, they always tell me that they could go join other better know parties. However the reason they have joined Yeah and PACP is because it has demonstrated that it is a party of action, not just talk. This is something so rare among today politicians in Mali. Let’s look at it. Mali has been independent for 52 years. Where is she today? She is the second poorest nation in the world and in the top 5 worse educated countries in the world. Look at the healthcare system. There is 1 doctor to 20000 people in the rural areas that form 80% of Mali’s population. The education system has been riddled with strikes both on the teachers side and the students as well. Even the electricity has been as undependable as Mali’s current and past government leaders.

The time has come for Mali to celebrate the dawning of a new day. A day filled with hope for all Malians. This was an amazing conference. I feel blessed to have participated in it. I feel blessed to be part of this journey. But most of all, we feel blessed by your support that makes this journey possible.

Come join the Mali Moment. Visit us at http://www.samake2013.com (EN) or http://www.pacp-mali.com (FR). The ability to change a country’s destiny lies in our hands.

 

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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PACP makes its mark on Dioila

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On Sunday, the Samaké Team headed by Yeah Samaké and a delegation of 10 PACP members visited the city of Dioila which is about three hours away from the capital city of Bamako. Dioila Cercle is made up of 23 different communes. Last week, a young woman by the name of Mussokoura Samaké had heard of PACP and the vision of Yeah Samaké on how to make Mali a prosperous nation.

Mussokoura comes from a well-respected political family in the area and enjoys a prominent political role in Dioila. Her father Sounkalo Samake is a former Army captain who served under President Moussa Traore and her mother was a former elected Member of Parliament of the region. Her role and position within her community allowed Mussokoura to bring, in just one week, more than a 100 community leaders, elders and members of other parties to come meet the PACP delegation.

Yeah spoke with great passion about emulating the example of service that the Captain has shown for Mali and the community. He solemnly promised the people of Dioila that as President, he would put the interest of the country first. Yeah presented a special token to three individuals in the community: the Chief of the griots, the captain Soungalo Samake and one to the most successful farmers in the area.  He emphasized to the people of Dioila that these individuals at all times during his Presidency can come hold him to his promise by showing these tokens.

After the rally, Yeah made specific visits with the chief of the village Mariko and the Imam. Both men of respect, they offered their blessings and support for the work that PACP is doing in Mali.

The visit ended with a personal home visit to the home of Mussokoura Samake. There, Yeah was presented with an autographed book written by the Captain about his life as a soldier. He committed his support to Yeah and shared with him the book as a token of his respect for Yeah’s service to Mali.

This was a wonderful rally and promises to create many supporters in the area. We were able to bring in many supporters who have been waiting to campaign on behalf of PACP.

Each day continues to bring many blessings and many new experiences. We are so grateful for all the support we have received and continue to receive. Your emails of support and your kind words on all our social media sites warms spurs us on. The amazing support we see at our rallies and at our headquarters signals to us that we are on the right path. Mali needs hope. Mali needs a leader who can bring hope and development to the country. Mali needs Yeah Samake.

 

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Growing support!

Today we mark the two month count down to the elections on July 7th. I am humbled at the out pouring of encouragement and support we have received since we began this journey.

I am very excited to share the latest video of Samake2013. I would like to thank the amazing talented Travis Pitcher and Joseph LeBaron at The Goodline who have yet again successfully captured the spirit of Samake2013 and the hope for a new democratic Mali. These guys are amazing. Check this video out!

This past month we have seen a growing recognition for what we are trying to accomplish in Mali. In Mali, this has meant a growing number of supporters turning up to our weekly meetings at our headquarters and many offices being created in distant regions. Many Malians are starting to seriously realize that change is needed and Yeah Samaké is the man for the job. Our growing fan base on social media and at our office on the ground is proof of that.

It does not stop there. We have had a number of news outlets including TIME cover Yeah’s story and his run for the Presidency. Just this morning Yeah was on the BBC to talk about his candidacy and why he is running to be President of Mali.

Here are some excerpts and the links to some of those News articles. We thank all these media members that have shared the Samake2013 message of hope and democracy for Mali.

TIME: As Mali Wars With Islamists, a Mormon Runs for President by Aryn Baker—“The government failed the people, so the people turned to the religious groups that filled the gaps,” Samaké says, referring to the success of Islamist militias that, for a time, occupied some of the country’s most historic cities. “Any nation that fails its people opens itself up to that kind of vulnerability, and we need to change that in Mali.” Read more

UTAH ABC4: Elections back on track: Mormon leads in race for president in African nation by Brent Hunsaker — “I am here to serve, not to take advantage of the people.” For years, Mali politicians did just that. They grew rich while the people starved. An election was seen as a license to rob. Samaké sharpened his image as a corruption fighter as mayor of Ouelessebougou. He turned around the poorest region of the poorest country and now promises to do it for all of Mali. “So that we can depend and rely on ourselves and not sit and wait for a handout. That is the Mali I see,” said Samaké.” Read the entire story

UTAH KSL5: Risking death, BYU grad confronts Malian coup leader by Stephanie Grimes and Richard Piatt — “I hope to see democracy restored. I hope to see leaders with integrity. I hope to see the people of Mali meeting their basic needs, including human rights and access to basic services, and having three meals a day and making sure education is available,” he said. “My hope is that my country would become prosperous and peaceful and that we will be more reliant on ourselves than on any external forces. That is my hope for my country.” Read the entire story

UTAH 89.1 FM THINKING ALOUD: Yeah Samaké and the Future of Mali by Michael Wyatt — Yeah Samake, an alumnus of BYU and leading candidate in the current Mali presidential election, joins Thinking Aloud to share the dramatic story of his reform efforts in his home country. Listen Here

MERIDIAN MAGAZINE: Yeah Samaké: Born for Such a Time as This by Maurine Proctor — “No education could prepare you to be the leader of a nation,” Yeah says, “but you do have to have a true and sincere sense of service. My heart is set on this people.” Read the entire story

We are thankful for the attention our story has gotten and continues to get. While much of the focus remains on our religion, that is the least of our focus. We know that religion is not what will stop us in Mali. Malians are very open and kind people. Even in Ouelessebougou, where there is a majority Muslim population like the rest of Mali, Yeah was elected Mayor with 86% of the vote. We know that the people are waiting for an honest leader who can bring change and raise Mali up to the great nation she deserves to be.

I am thankful that our supporter base only continues to grow in Mali and the world. We get supporter emails on a daily basis. I say this not to boast. I say this because we are so thankful and feel blessed for all the support. It means a lot when we hear someone say to us:”I believe in you” and “How can I help Yeah”. It means a lot when we see the youth in Mali sacrifice their weekends to campaign and attend meetings. It means a lot when we see Malians themselves donating.

We are ready. We are ready to fight for Malians everywhere so that a true democracy may be restored. A democracy that is not in name alone, but one that is demonstrated by a leader who is willing to acknowledge and meet the needs of his people. We are ready to fight for a Mali where three meals a day and at least a high school degree becomes a norm. We are ready to fight for a Mali where basic amenities like clean water and electricity become accessible in all regions. Mali does not deserve to sit in the bottom two of the world. It is time to fight for Mali and break her chains of bondage to poverty, illiteracy and poor governance. July is fast approaching and we here at Samake2013 are giving it all we got for a democratic, prosperous Mali.

Can we count on you? Together for Mali!

WWW.SAMAKE2013.COM

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Impacting Governance at the local level

On March 16th a delegation of Malian mayors and municipal leaders left hot, sweltering Mali for Utah. The goal was to attend a 3-day governance summit in Salt Lake City, Utah.

One of the key things that Yeah hopes to offer as President of Mali is further training and exchange between Malian leaders at the local level and local leaders in other countries, so that an exchange of ideas and best practices can happen. This falls in line with one of the key platform points of the Samaké campaign: decentralization of power. No one knows better how to solve the problems of the Malian people at the local level than the Malian leaders that govern them locally. By providing them the tools to make better decisions and implement different ideas, we are stretching minds to the endless possibilities that can give Malian people a better life and it all starts with educating and empowering local leadership.

The summit and the trip were made possible by a partnership between the Utah based foundation Empower Mali and Utah League of Cities and Towns. Yeah, as the Mayor of Ouelessebougou, Mali, led the delegation of local leaders. The really cool thing about this delegation is that its members hail from 5 of the 8 regions in Mali, even war torn Tombouctou.

maliregions

The delegation includes members from different political parties. It included the following members:
• Nampaga Coulibaly, Mayor, Misseni (Population: 45,000 people, Sikasso Region)
• Diarha Diarra, Mayor, Moribabougou (Population: 29,000 people, Koulikoro Region)
• Sekou Boubacar Doucoure, Mayor, Tele (Population: 2,078+ people, Tombouctou Region)
• Malik Guindo, City Council Member, Doucoumbo (Population: 13,000+ people, Mopti Region)
• Malick Keita, Mayor, N’Gabacoro (17,000+ people, Koulikoro Region)
• Ousmane Kouyate, City Manager, Ouelessebougou (Population: 44,000+ )
• Birama Traoré, Mayor, Kirané (Population: 40,000+ people, Kayes Region)
• Barakatoulahi Keita, Partnership Coordinator, Association of Malian Municipalities
• Mamadou Tangara, Mayor of Kénédougou, Sikasso City ( Population: 230,000+, Region of Sikasso)
• Delegation led by Yeah Samaké, Mayor of Ouelessebougou (Population: 44000+, Koulikoro Region)

The 3-day summit was jam packed with visits and discussions all over the state of Utah from Logan to Provo. City Councilman Carlton Christensen greeted the delegation on behalf of UCLT. The delegation also received a warm welcome at a luncheon hosted by the Hinckley Institute at the University of Utah. The Mayors were impressed with the student’s commitment and involvement in government studies. Prominent figures like Mayor Mike Winder and Director of the Hinckley Institute, Kirk Jowers expressed hope that a partnership between local leaders in Utah and Mali would be solidified through this exchange. The energy was high and this was a great start to the three day summit in Utah. The delegation, despite being extremely tired and jet lagged, was excited at the endless possibilities of what they would take away from this experience during the next few days.

During the remaining days, the delegation also visited facilities like the UTA Trax Station, Sandy City Fire Department, Waste Management Transfer Station, Salt Lake Valley Landfill, Parleys Canyon Water Facility and Salt Lake City Waste Water Facility. These are all new experiences for the group. These kind of high end facilities are not available in Mali. That is not to say there is no fire, waste or police facilities in Mali. The difference is that the level of resources committed does not even begin to compare. The delegation was impressed by the organization of these facilities, especially the police station, water and waste plants. They asked many questions on how these facilities worked at a local level to handle the State’s needs. The mayors discussed the significant differences between waste and water management in Mali and waste and water management in the U.S. and what measures they can take to improve access to and quality of water and handling of waste in their own communities.

The delegation also had a unique opportunity to visit with the Sandy City, South Jordan and Ogden City councils. This gave them the opportunity to compare these councils and their functions against similar councils in their own regions. Each of these mayors works together with the city council in Mali in their respective regions to determine things like budget and requirements within the city limits. So it was nice to see some similarity of a process and observe how things are done in the US vs. Mali. The delegation also met with the African representative Franz Kolb at the Utah Office of Economic Development and Lew Cramer, President of the World Trade Center. The key topic of discussion was how to realistically implement a partnership between the cities in Utah and the cities represented by the delegation.

A good starting point was determined to be via the school systems in Utah and the primary schools in their cities. The delegation was pleased and impressed by the discussion and with the prospect of business partnerships between cities in Mali and cities in Utah.

The trip to Utah also included a visit to beautiful Temple Square. The delegation had a meeting with Elder Robert Gay of the Quorum of the Seventy of the LDS Church. Elder Gay is in charge of employment, education, and new business startups worldwide. At this meeting, they discussed the role of the Church in helping young people to find work after they have graduated. Elder Gay also emphasized that if education is only in the cities then the youth will come to the cities and never go back to the villages. The organization Unitus that Elder Gay helped start up is in the process of building apps that can be used on tablets and phones to help educate individuals in the rural villages. They are also focusing on water innovation in rural areas, primarily in Africa. Elder Gay asked the delegation to send him an official invitation to Mali to for his education application pilot program. The group also visited Welfare Square where they looked in amazement at the scale of services offered to the needy through the thrift store and employment program.

The final high note was a visit to none other than Costco. It is amazing the things we take for granted. Seeing so much food and items in one place can be overwhelming. The delegation loved it! I remember Yeah telling me when he first went to Costco back in 1999 when he first went the US, the feeling of awe that went through him and the realization that all the food there could help feed his own people back home.

All the delegation members wished the trip in Utah could go on longer so that they could see more and learn more. That is definitely something we will implement next year when we invite yet another batch of municipal leaders and mayors to come to Utah and other parts of the US for an exchange. The delegation was pleased with the trip and spoke of plans to act on what they had seen and learned, particularly in regards to partnerships.

I am thankful to all the wonderful people in Utah who helped with the delegation, especially the Utah League of Cities and Towns for arranging the meetings, the Empower Mali Foundation for arranging everything on the Mali side, our volunteers who translated and helped where they could, Jen Leahy our amazing photographer and Brett Van Leeuwen who kindly arranged lodging for all the delegation members in beautiful Alpine, Utah. It is support like this that makes what we do a possibility. We are grateful for your support!

The delegation is currently in NYC where they had the opportunity to visit the United Nations and the current Ambassador of Mali to the US Al-Maamoun Baba Lamine Keita. Also NYC hosts a strong population of Malians. The delegation was excited to meet with and mingle with many members there. The Malians in NYC showed great hospitality to the delegation, a tradition not forgotten or absolved of even though they are many miles away from Mali. The Malian delegation will return back to Mali this week.

It is opportunities like these that will empower our local leaders to effect change in their own communities. Yeah has often said: “A mind once stretched can never go back”. Yeah, through his public policy education at Brigham Young University, Utah has learned many things about governance. He has been able to apply the things that will work and has moved Ouelessebougou from the bottom 10 cities in Mali to one of the top five cities in terms of development and transparency. He talked last year with the Sutherland Institute about how his education has helped him . You can watch that video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8nFS7AwrpU

It is essential that leaders be given the opportunity to see the endless possibilities and then pick and choose what will work to better their communities’ lives and livelihood. We want Mali to be a strong nation with a prosperous people. It is for that reason that we create opportunities like these. We hope that through these conferences and summits, that we can affect change at the local level. It is a possibility that can be made a reality with the right kind of leadership and implementing the right processes for change. Ouelessebougou, Mali is proof of that and the track record of Yeah Samaké displays that he is the leader of good, honest change and can make Mali a great nation.

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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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