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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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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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Moving Mali Forward

The last month has certainly been one filled with challenges for Mali. In a way, however, the events that have played out and the results broke the deadlock and inaction in Mali.

On January 6th 2013, rebels took over the town of Konna and started an offensive that predicted doom for Bamako, the seat of the Malian government. If Bamako had been overtaken, Mali as we know it would become Al-Qaeda’s newest playground. The French reacted immediately to the threat and deployed troops to secure the South and then in a bold move, together with the Malian army they pushed the rebels back. First Gao, then Tombouctou and finally Kidal. While Kidal still remains in question since MNLA is controlling it, other rebel groups like AQIM are reportedly not present. The French are refusing to get involved in Kidal and maintain that talks need to happen between MNLA and the Malian government. MNLA is mainly made up of Tuaregs from Mali’s northern region. This might explain why France wants to distance itself from getting involved in a civil dispute between MNLA and the government of Mali. However, it also “rumored” that France has in the past supported the MNLA. Nevertheless, the sentiment among a majority of Malians is that the MNLA exacerbated the initial issue in the North by teaming up with other rebel factions like Ansar Dine and AQIM (The Al-Qaeda faction in Northern Mali).Most Malians feel that no negotiations should happen with MNLA. However if Mali is to succeed, talks must definitely happen with the people of the North to ensure that they do not continue to feel marginalized by the people/government of the South. This issue runs deeper and is old as Mali’s independence.  

Now that Mali is once again whole, another serious issue is the refugee issue. It has been reported that the refugee count now stands at 350000 refugees in bordering countries and 200000 plus refugees inside Mali. When Yeah had visited the refugee camps in Burkina Faso last month, there was a woman whose main plea was to return home. Conditions in these camps are terrible and there is not enough supply to meet the growing demand. With the regions in the North now secured, refugees can start to return home. However, there is fear because of an increased report of reprisal killings by the military. Since it was mainly the Tuareg leaders that deserted to the rebel factions there has been a backlash against this ethnic group. In addition, many of the rebels have simply melted away into the desert and also the civilian population, a very common guerilla war tactic. While one can understand why the reprisal killings are happening, these issues need to stop. There needs to be a level of discipline and leaders of the army have strongly addressed that their members need to focus on securing the areas and protecting the citizens.

The faster elections happen, the better chance Mali has of starting its recovery and ensuring its growth and stability. Democracy will also reopen the doors to the West where all negotiations had broken down since a military coup derailed elections and split the country.

Hope has returned to Mali. People are returning back to a way of life they knew a year ago. The past 12 months has affected not only the North, but people in the South too. I hear certain groups condemn the French for interfering, but what they don’t understand is if the French had not intervened Mali today would be the hub of Al-Qaeda and within arm’s reach to Europe, the Americas and Asia. That threat had to be stopped and instead of sitting and discussing it like other countries in the world, the French acted with quickness and agility. The war has been temporarily won. However the battle for restoring a nation back to stability is on.

Now, more than ever, I believe in Yeah’s ability to lead his nation. Mali’s issues are many and the country is probably in a worse off state than at its independence. I believe Yeah has the ability to restore true democracy in Mali and rebuild the economy. I believe Yeah is the hope for the dawning of new opportunities, better life and security for the Malian people.

MALI WITH YEAH SAMAKE AT THE HELM

MALI WITH YEAH SAMAKE AT THE HELM

If you believe like I do, then please support us. A donation to the campaign ensures that our work can continue. Now more than ever it is essential that democracy be returned to Mali. A donation can be made online at www.samake2013.com

Also, this past week, Yeah shared his opinion on what Mali must do to now move forward. His opinion was published in the Washington Times. You can access it at this link or read below: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jan/28/the-way-forward-for-mali/

THE WAY FORWARD FOR MALI

“It is critical to stability in the Maghreb and the Sahel region that terrorism in Mali be dealt with, both militarily and politically. The current situation in Mali cannot be separated from the issues in the Maghreb and the Sahel.

Extremists are breaking down the traditional tribal cultural bonds that have held society together in the Sahel region. This breakdown has far-reaching consequences for future generations. If we do not begin to reverse this trend immediately, we will have an exponentially greater problem to deal with in the near future, and much more serious long-term effects. It is critical that we apply equal pressure across the entire region in order to deal with terrorism.

As French forces have promptly intervened to help avert the movement of Islamists toward the south of Mali, there is a growing concern that the militants will spread into neighboring countries. Regional forces have been deployed alongside the French troops, which gives hope that the military campaign will succeed. There is also hope that the United States might soon restore direct political engagement with the Malian government.

The recipe for restoring and maintaining a democratic Mali requires holding elections, the return of Malian administration and army in the north, political stability and accountability, and the homecoming of displaced Malians. The way forward in Mali will begin with a Sovereign National Conference similar to that of 1991. This national dialogue will put in place the right political environment as a precursor to free and fair elections. Malians have a tradition of picking leaders through electoral processes, not by consensus, even when the outcome is less than perfect. When the country is unified, the authority of the state will need to be strengthened to allow cohabitation with decentralized local governance.

We must also consider the humanitarian situation. Humanitarian efforts should be balanced with the need for displaced Malians to return to their homes. They have been driven to camps because they do not want to live under Shariah law. After a successful military intervention, it is important politically that they become part of the solution by returning to their residences. Humanitarian assistance must be balanced in this regard.

There is a legitimate and valid need for the international community to continue to engage on the holding of elections. The current transitional government has shown no great eagerness to hold elections that might remove them from power. Deadlines must be established and commitments to those deadlines. Leverage can be found for both the military and political solutions required to restore Mali to a fully functioning democracy.

Recovering the north is not merely a logistical support effort. In the post-coup environment, there are still some political levers that need to be applied. Support for the Malian army requires not just logistics and training, but also restoring some of our critical relationships.

A group of generals ousted in the coup could play a critical advisory role in retaking the north. In particular, the former Malian Joint Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabriel Poudiougou had a good working relationship with Maj. Gen. David Hogg, commander of U.S. Army Africa, and is well respected by the U.S. Embassy. He was recognized to be a good player with U.S. Army Africa and had not been tainted by some of the corruption that was apparent elsewhere. He should be brought back into the process of taking Mali forward militarily. It is imperative that some of this lost leadership be leveraged back into the process.

The political and military process must be inclusive, not exclusive. This inclusiveness in a small area will be necessary for the political aspects that must drive the re-unification of northern Mali.

Accountability must be the principle that underpins our support. Political corruption was what led to the coup. Military corruption followed that political corruption. As Mali receives material support, it is imperative that the United States, as a major stakeholder in the process, should have a mechanism in place to monitor the flow of this equipment and material to ensure that corruption does not subvert the effort.

Deadlines for an election tied to material and other support for the military effort, along with necessary reforms, will start us down a productive path toward restored democracy and reformed accountability. This road is complex, but it is worth traveling, and it is a journey that must begin immediately.”

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Interim President of Mali returns to Mali with new plan

As the world was finally starting to sit up and pay attention to Mali’s strife in the North, its interim President, Dioncounda Traore, who had been wounded by pro-coup attackers on May 21st returned to the South after a two month stay in Paris during which he received treatment for head injuries. During his absence the Prime Minister, Cheick Modibo Diarra, has attempted to resolve the crisis in the North.

The Northern situation has become worse with Islamic rebels asserting outright Sharia law and almost imprisoning Malians in the North into their way of life. Their crackdown has caused even more Malians to flee the North increasing the refugee count. Just earlier this weekend, a man and woman accused of committing adultery were stoned to death in the northern town of Aguelhok. I wonder, what is the price to pay for murder?

Yeah has been working tirelessly to raise the world’s attention on Mali’s strife and the humanitarian crisis. He has been meeting with leaders at the UN and also those in US that are over Africa’s foreign policy. To shed fresh media coverage on Mali, Yeah assisted CNN’s Erin Burnett and her team with visas, contacts, and travel plans so that they could bring a larger attention on the refugee situation and the human tragedy happening in Mali. You can view Erin’s coverage at: http://outfront.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/24/why-mali-matters-al-qaeda-on-the-rise/. Yeah has remained a supporter of PM Diarra’s government and is adamant that now is not the time to put in a new government and delay any solution for Mali’s unity. As President of PACP, he has cautioned fellow politicians that no further delays should happen to hamper Mali’s return to democracy. It is time for the politicians in Mali to get over self interests and support the government.

The world is finally starting to sit up and notice the struggles in Mali. Most recently the US had staunchly opposed interfering. However on July 26th, Michael Sheehan, the Defense Department’s assistant secretary for special operations, said that they cannot allow Al-Qaeda to exist unchecked.  Even France that had maintained its distance has showed concern over the unchecked Al-Qaeda movements in Northern Mali. It’s amazing it had to come to this for the world to notice Mali. And even then, it’s not even about the lives being destroyed. I understand that each government concerns itself with what will be beneficial to its national interests. However, we might not even be in this position however if the first foreign interference mistakes were not made with Libya.  There is talk about a 3000-strong army made up of mainly Malians and military forces from Niger, with logistical support from the US and France. But if we continue talk, the North as we knew it may not exist. Already monuments have been destroyed, people have fled. What next before something actually gets done?

The attack on Dioncounda worked more in his favor than anything. He was not looked upon favorably as he was believed to be part of the old guard that had allowed ATT to rule unchecked. However the attack on him became to Malians an attack on Malian culture and traditions.  Attacking a 70-year old man, no matter what he has done, is simply not acceptable culturally. In an address to the nation, Dioncounda spoke vehemently of his forgiveness to his attackers. He focused his speech on how Mali must move forward to regain its territory and people.  He urged the Malian people to focus on how Mali can regain its territorial integrity. Dioncounda, spoke with urgency, that partners like the US and France cannot become enemies. This is interesting as many Malians regard former colonizer France with a degree of suspicion and even believe that they may have been responsible for supporting the rebel Tuaregs in the first place. Dioncounda called on all Malians to pay back their debt to Mali and become part of the solution.  And that Mali must move on stronger and unified. He then moved on to propose a transition plan.

The proposed plan outlines the following amendments to the agreement made between the coup leaders and ECOWAS.  In his speech Dioncounda outlined them as follows:

“In order to complete the institutional architecture to better suit the socio-political realities, the tasks of the transition, in the spirit of Article 6 of the Accord-cadre agreement, I propose:

1. High State Council (HCE) composed of the President of the Republic and two Vice-Presidents assist the President in carrying out the tasks of the transition.

— One of the Vice-Presidents represent the forces of defense and security and as such he will chair the Military Committee followed the Reform of the Defense Forces and the Security and take care of all military matters relating to Northern Mali;
–The other Vice-President shall represent the other components of the kinetic energies of the nation.

2. Government of National Unity: where are represented all parts of the Forces Vives.

Consultations leading to its formation will be led by the President of the Republic.

3. National Transition Council (CNT) with an advisory and comprising representatives of political parties present or not in the National Assembly and representatives of civil society.

It will be led by Vice-President representing the military services.

4. National Commission for Negotiations (CNN): meets the wishes of Heads of State of ECOWAS formulated in paragraph 18 of the final communication of the second meeting of the contact group on Mali.

This commission will engage with the armed movements in northern Mali peace talks in connection with the ECOWAS mediator to search through dialogue, negotiated political solutions to the crisis.

5. Motion in the direction of ECOWAS (the African Union and United Nations) based on the findings of the mission which visited recently in Bamako.

The Vice Presidents shall be appointed and the National Council of Transition (CNT) will be established as soon as possible and in any case within two weeks following the implementation of the Government of National Unity.

Furthermore it is understood that neither the President nor the Prime Minister nor the Ministers will participate in the next presidential election.” Will these restrictions also apply to the Vice Presidents, given they will play an important role in the transitional process?

The interesting thing about his address to the nation is the current Prime Minister was not mentioned in it. Why is this interesting? During the entire time from when Dioncounda was attacked to the time he was flown to Paris for treatment, PM Diarra has stood by Dioncounda, calling on people to let the political process play out. In fact, it could probably be attributed to him that Mali did not erupt into a civil war when the attack on Dioncounda happened. So it is interesting that he is not mentioned or acknowledged for the work that he has been doing. There is dissent among some of older political class in Mali that Diarra has been slow in getting the country back on track. Much of the dissent is coming from Dioncounda’s own party, ADEMA, which feels that they should be involved as much as possible in the running of the country. Many believe Diarra to be the coup’s puppet given that he has been appointed by the coup and also 3 major positions are held by the coup leaders.

However, now is not the time to play political games. Every day that these dissenters choose to make it harder for Diarra to operate, what they are doing is not just harming him, but more importantly, they are delaying a resolution to bring Malians much needed relief.  At this time national unity needs to become evident rather than just a song being sung. Even with Dioncounda, it is hard to say what will happen next. Given this address, it is hard to see where the PM will fit in and how all the political forces will indeed coordinate to create a stable, unified front. Without a strong base in the South, it will be hard for the army to follow a steadfast course. What Mali needs now more than ever is a government that sticks together and shows that Mali’s needs surpasses their own partisan interests. Additionally, Mali’s neighbors have given Mali a deadline of July 31st to create a unity government or risk facing sanctions again.  This seems unlikely at this point, but Dioncounda’s plan is a step in the right direction to make that happen. If what Dioncounda says is true, now that he is back, he could be the binding force that is needed as he shows that he is willing to coordinate with the coup leaders choices of leadership.  ECOWAS has been prompt at adding ten more days to the deadline to allow Dioncounda Traoré enough room for negotiations.

Elections have been set for May. Items to be resolved remain: checking out the rebels, restoring order in the North, bring home the refugees and holding elections. At the end of the day, a speech is all well and good, but actions speak louder than words and the question remains, can Dioncounda and Diarra pull it off for the greater good of Mali.  It remains clear, given Dioncounda’s return, that Malians will expect remarkable progress in the near future from these leaders.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Analyzing Mali’s Refugee Crisis

The one thing that is on my mind these days is the current growing Malian refugee situation. It is hard to watch your fellow man suffer. However, it is harder still when you know they had little to begin with and now everything, including their dignity, is being stripped from them. These people did nothing to deserve the conditions they have been subjected to.

On June 10th, Yeah was a man on a mission. His mission was to truly investigate the conditions of the camp and the state of the refugees living in them, so that he could get the international community and the Malian government more involved.

The camp at Soum

Yeah went to visit the Malian refugees in Burkina Faso. UNHCR (High Commission for Refugees UN), reports 180,060 refugees displaced all over Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger. 65009 refugees are in Burkina Faso as of June 9th 2012. Of these numbers, almost 60% are children. About 38% are aged 18-59 and about 3% are 60 and older. The situation in these camps is getting more and more desperate. The flow of aid is unable to match the need. Yeah went with Malian journalist Yaya Samaké (not a relative) to document the situation and hear firsthand what the refugees and officials concerned with the crisis were saying.

Yeah met with the officials at the Mali Embassy in Burkina Faso. Mali Ambassador to Burkina, Seydou Traoré, admitted that they had not been to visit the Malian refugees situated in Burkina Faso. They told Yeah that the Malian government had not given any aid to be delivered to the refugees. This seems amazing to me that one’s own government does not care two cents as to the plight of their own people. Yeah was the first Malian from Mali to have visited the refugees in Burkina. What is the use of an embassy in Burkina Faso if it does not even serve its people?

Yeah also had the opportunity to meet with the country’s head of UNHCR, Fata Courouma, to better understand the needs of the camp. Yeah visited the Mentao, Damba and Djibo camps which is in the Soum province, 250 km from Burkina’s capital of Ouagadougou.  This area (as of May 18th 2012) according the UNHCR houses 14,506 individuals and 2,472 households.

With the UNHCR/CR-BKF representatives

The refugees in these areas hail mainly from the Tombouctou area.  Also among the refugees there are people who have served in the armed forces of Mali. Conditions are getting worse because of the rainy season coming in. The tents available are inadequate to deal with the rainy season. The number one need right now is protection from the elements. Even though food is being served, the rations do not meet the nutritional requirement and are lower than what a person would eat on a daily basis. Children that are displaced are not receiving an education. There are limited health services provided by the UNHCR and the CR-BKF. There are no words to describe the situation in these camps. It is unbelievable that it has come to this and that nothing is being done to help these individuals.

These individuals were so happy that a fellow Malian had finally come to hear what was happening to them in these camps. They expressed their gratitude to the Burkina officials and were frustrated with the Malian government because no one had come to help them. To them, it seemed like they had been forgotten by their own government. Yeah said to them, “I am not come to you on behalf of the Malian government. I came to see you as a brother wounded at the situation as you live. Your suffering is our suffering. Your expectations are not met, not because the government does not have the will, but because the country is almost stopped. Let us all pray for the speedy return of peace, so you can find your homeland. We will always be by your side”.  Yeah promised the camp leaders that he would do more to help them and raise awareness to the growing humanitarian situation.

Aghali Ag Hamidou, the teacher that returned to help

Yeah met one camp representative by the name of Aghali Ag Hamidou , who is from the Tombouctou region and was teaching in Bamako when the fighting broke. He left his job in Bamako and returned to Burkina Faso to help his tribe in the refugee camp. Another camp leader Almahil Ag Almouwak of the South camp said “I prefer the Malian tree to another tree”. Despite the harsh conditions the refugees are under, he was quick to say that Mali will always be their home. They want to return home. He cautioned that not all Tuaregs are rebels and vice versa and cautioned the government to stop treating them as such.

Our Malian brothers and sisters still hold on to the hope that Mali will be reunited and that they will then be able to return home and live in peace.  Speaking through Yeah, they call on the Malian authorities to step up to the plate and help them.

I am glad that Yeah took the opportunity to go see what the refugees have to deal with on a daily basis. The conditions are desperate and are worsening. Now I ask you, imagine not having enough to eat. Imagine being unable to sleep because your tent let water through or because you were simply too hungry. Imagine not knowing what to do with yourself all day, because there simply is nothing to do. Imagine being unable to take care of your family.  Imagine a life where death seems preferable to suffering. Conditions are terrible for the Malian refugees and they are about to get worse as we approach the rainy seasons from July to September.

Donate today to organizations like UNHCR that are on the ground and trying to make a dent in the growing numbers with Operation Mali. Or donate to Samake2012 and specify refugee in the comments field and the funds will go towards the collection Yeah is making for the refugees.

Every little bit helps. Will you help today?

Read Yaya Samake’s article here: FRENCH   TRANSLATED IN ENGLISH

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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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The “forgotten”

As the rain came down in buckets, it brought to end the heat wave of 120F that has hit Mali and all Malians very hard. April is the hottest month usually in Mali and this year, the heat took no breaks. I am blessed that during the hot months, I and my kids can retreat to our air-conditioned house. However, it only served to stress how most Malians cannot afford this basic necessity. To be honest, most part of the country remains without electricity and so even fans remain inaccessible.

Seeing the rain come down, made me think of the wonderful relief it would bring to the general Malian population. But then the thought hit me. What about all those 235,000 people who are now living in the North without any shelter or food?

As the world focuses its attentions on the “political” crisis in Mali, more and more, the humanitarian issues in the North continue to remain on the back burner. We could be going through the worse humanitarian crisis and it might be too late before anyone takes notice.

Refugee # as of April 5th

The refugee crisis began in January when Tuareg rebels started a fight for the liberation of the North. The ensuing drought only made matters worse as the nomadic northerners started traveling in search of food and other resources. When the coup hit in March, the crisis deepened and people found themselves fleeing to escape harsh conditions being imposed by the rebels in Gao, Kidal and Tombouctou. In a matter of days, 1500 people were fleeing a day versus the 200 fleeing before the crisis broke. The conditions are best described by the Doctors without Borders based at a camp in Mauritania that has been receiving some of the fleeing refugees. “As the number of refugees increases, so does the pressure for humanitarian response to improve the living conditions within the camp. There are currently 100 communal latrines for 57,000 refugees and just nine liters of water per person, per day. The conditions are below humanitarian standards, which call for 20 liters of water per person per day, and one latrine per 20 people”.

I cannot say this enough. We need to bring in some much needed relief for all Malians that are suffering in the North. Mali, being one of the poorest countries in the world, has been served another plate of misery. The conditions at these camps are deplorable and aid workers are doing the best that they can do. No child deserves to go hungry. No child deserves not to be able to go to school. No mother deserves to watch her child die or not be able to provide them with the basic necessities. No mother deserves to lose a baby because of lack of medical treatment. No family deserves to be separated.

The effects of war are damaging. However, let’s help turn some media attention on Mali’s forgotten people. Contact the media; ask them to cover this crisis. Facebook and tweet about this. Saving a human life is newsworthy! Contact your friends and family. Ask them if they can donate. $1 a day feeds 1 child for a day. If anything we can start by saving 1 child a day. If we band together we can help provide the much needed help for our people in the North.

We are collecting funds right now for the refugee crisis. If you can help please make an online donation at www.samake2012.com (Put Refugee in the comment field) or at a trust set up: Friends of Mali Trust, 472 East 4380 North, Provo, Utah 84604 (Please note the trust is not tax-deductible).

If you can help today, help make a difference. Every little bit helps. Please, please, let’s do what we can. My friend told me that I can’t save the world but I can add my 2 cents in and maybe others would follow. Well friends, I am putting in $100 towards the crisis. Will you join in and create a domino effect? Are you in? Together, lets help contribute to aid for Northern Malians.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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A slow return to calm

For the last 24 hours, Bamako has experienced the first feeling of true calmness since the coup happened. We have been able to restock on all items imaginable and I have no doubt the Malian economy has benefited from my nervousness. In addition, while there have been reports that the water and electricity will be cut off, my area of Faladie has seen no cuts in either. Many people are expecting the craziness of the 1991 coup, but none of it has materialized. Citizens remain unharmed and for the most part go about handling their daily business till 6pm when curfew starts. The only thing that materializes the feeling of captivity for me is that the airport and borders remain shut down. There are rumors that they will reopen on Wednesday. As long as they remain shut no one can get out. But also no one and nothing can get it in. This means fuel and food are not being replenished. Already fuel has risen to 2000cfa per litre compared to 500cfa a week ago. This I believe will be the true test of this leadership. They need to start showing some good faith by reopening the borders and airports.

Also the leaders of MNLA in the North are reporting they will advance and capture more towns, taking advantage of the governments weakness at this time. I worry for the additional people that will be displaced by this fighting. Already we have 175000 refugees living in despicable conditions. People in the world need to realize that the refugee issue is not just a Mali issue; it is a human rights issue. We have refugees that are living in despicable conditions with little to no resources. Yeah and his team have been attempting to raise refugee aid to help his displaced Malian brothers and sisters while the issue in the North plays out. We are calling on the international community to step up aid to these displaced people so that basic necessities like food, water and shelter are given them so that we don’t have a similar issue like that in Sudan and Somalia.

Despite reports yesterday afternoon that loyalists/Red Berets would try to reclaim the TV station ORTM and the palace, the night remained relatively calm. The Red Berets are Mali’s version of the Secret Service that Obama has. Their duty is to protect their president at all times and with their life. At one point there were reports that the loyalists had won and Sanogo injured. At 9:30pm, after announcements from the spokesperson, the leader of the coup, Sanogo, came on TV and advised that he was safe. He advised that the rumors were unfounded. As he spoke, the camera spun around showing the faces of none other than the members of the Red Beret. The Red Beret spokesperson then spoke and advised that they would rally their support around the coup leaders. There is no saying how valid this is or whether these individuals are the actual Red Beret that protect the president. I guess the next few days will tell a better story.

One of the biggest concerns that happened after the coup was the capture of several leaders and also the looting of the government buildings. Several leaders were taken and detained less because of their loyalty to the former president Amadou Toumani Toure(ATT) and more because they themselves have been involved in embezzlement of funds and ineffective governance. Since the coup started, many houses of these leaders and stores were looted. Sanogo came on TV last night condemning the looting. He severely cautioned his own people who this took away from the good they meant to bring the country. He also told the Malian people who several civilians, seeing the opportunity, had dressed in military uniform and was responsible for “some” of the looting. They then showed a video of all the things taken by the military from the government offices and advised that they would all be returned. In addition, Sanogo stated that the leaders detained would not be physically harmed and that they would receive a fair trial that would be untouched by these politicians money and connections when the government re-established itself.

Yeah, has been working feverishly to get in touch with other political leaders so that a united front can be created that will stand up for democracy. It is amazing how many leaders are unwilling to stand up for something they claimed was important. How can anyone support the loss of democracy that takes away the voice of the people. How does a true leader support the actions that have caused fear in the hearts of the people they were campaigning to protect. There are so many leaders that have just jumped ship in an attempt to gain favor with the new military leaders. Yeah has condemned the coup and continues to condemn it. However he remains firm in his belief that we are now in this situation and the best way to get back to democracy is to open peaceful dialogue with the military leaders of the coup. He shares the conviction of the Malian people who the ex-president ATT had not done all he could have to prevent the issues in the North. Yeah continues to hope that political leaders will show true leadership and defend their country by banding together to convince the military coup leaders to create a government that is filled with politicians and not military personnel.

March 27th will spell an important day for Malians, as the military establish their temporary government.It will be essential to see the constitution re-established and a new date set for the elections. There is the concern I have that some of the leaders like Modibo Sidibe and Jeamille that have been jailed were presidential candidates and some that escaped to other countries like Soumaila Cisse and Diacounda will not be able to compete. This will create tensions in loyalists of these parties and any results will be heavily disputed. It will be important for this military government to make sure they address the reasons why these individuals are being detained and try them sooner rather than later by a just judicial system.

This is without doubt a time of uncertainty. However, we must now make the best use of the situation that has happened. Nothing works with anger and no one is going to do anything just because the US or EU said so. Now more than ever it is essential to open the dialogue. Dialogue does not mean mindless following. However, it does allow for leaders to discuss how best to bring together their different opinions in the hope of furthering the future and success of their beloved country.

Here’s hoping and praying that democracy will prevail and that Mali may be able to bounce back from this coup and the ill-effects it has already caused to its economy and its people.

Vive la démocratie ! ( Long Live Democracy)
Vive le Mali ! ( Long Live Mali)
Divisés nous perdons tous ! Unis nous gagnons tous! (Divided we all lose! United we all win!)

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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