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A New Adventure!

YeahMarissaIndiaAmb

Well! It’s all official. The President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, nominated Yeah the new Ambassador of Mali to India.

My country INDIA!! Whohooo!!! I am super excited to return back to my country. After 4+ years in Mali, the kids and I have had a wonderful opportunity to learn and experience the Malian culture and traditions. We have come to love the Malian people like our own and to understand intimately the many challenges they face on a daily basis. Through Yeah’s role as Mayor, we have enjoyed many unique experiences and learned much about local governance and the ability to impact the citizens of Oueléssébougou. Running the campaign was a whole different ball park and it was probably the biggest challenge we have lived through. The kids have adapted amazingly well to life in Mali. We came here when Keanen was 5 years old and Carmen barely 3, where they knew only English and the comforts of America. When we first came, the adjustment was hard, the challenges many. But we were blessed with courage at our most difficult times. Now the kids speak French fluently and I have been able to learn both French and Bambara. Through school and our different road trips, our children have enjoyed the beauty of experiencing different cultures. They have accompanied us on the many projects that have taken us to many villages and communities all over Mali. Road trips took on a whole new meaning and I have to say they have loved it!! Through our foundation Empower Mali, we have continued to partner with rural communities in Mali to make an impact in education, clean water/energy and leadership development. The high level partnerships and contacts we have in Mali and the United States will allow us to continue fundraising and implementing the work we are doing. We have no plans to stop building schools, providing scholarship opportunities abroad or increasing access to basic rights like clean water and food.

So much accomplished and so many great experiences lived in just 4 years. When I first started this blog 4+ years ago, I could not have predicted this. I can hardly wait to see what the next few years hold for our family. India will be a new experience for us all. It has been 15+ years since I have visited. I am excited for the kids to learn my own culture/traditions and get to experience the different religions and exotic cultures all housed in one beautiful country. Not to mention the opportunity to travel the many surrounding countries where we will also serve.

While we will mainly be based in New Delhi, the India Mission will cover 10 different Asian countries. We will have an opportunity to serve Malians and grow relations between Mali and all these countries. The countries are: India, Bangladesh, Nepal , Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand. For 11+ years, Yeah has shown he can help move Mali forward at a local and national level. Now I am thrilled that he has received the opportunity to play this role and will be able to make an impact on a larger national and international level. In this day and age, Asia has shown herself to be a big player and by helping grow relationships Yeah has the opportunity to create many partnerships that will help many Malians abroad and at home.

Yeah said the following in a recent press release: ” Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta announced that he has appointed me as the next Malian Ambassador to the Republic of India. The jurisdiction of the post in New Delhi, India covers 10 countries: India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.

As a result of this appointment, I will soon travel to India with my family to begin my work representing Malian interests in these countries. I am grateful to President Keïta for this opportunity and look forward to representing Mali in this new role.

Malians benefit in many ways from trade with India, whether it be through our increased electricity or access to high-quality medicines resulting from Indian imports, or from our sales of cotton and other agricultural products to India that puts money in the pockets of Malians across the country. This continued and growing trade partnership is improving the lives of citizens in both countries, and I look forward to building upon this relationship in the coming years.

As Mayor of Oueléssébougou over the last six years, I have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of everyone in our area. When I was first elected, less than ten percent of the population paid taxes, and government workers were owed six months of salary. When measured in terms of our governmental management and transparency, our commune was at the bottom of the list. Six years later, I am proud to say we have transformed our area, making it one of the most respected and admired areas in all of Mali. Today, 86 percent of our citizens pay taxes, and our area is seen as a model of transparent and effective government. Working with our city council and other local leaders, I have also brought investment and critical infrastructure to our area as well. We now have a hospital in our area. We have a high school for our children, and we have more primary schools as well. We have improved our water infrastructure. We have the largest solar panel field in West Africa. We are helping farmers with equipment so they can make their land more productive. Instead of citizens waiting weeks for their local government to help them with requests, now they wait only days—with many receiving help on the same day. We have shown this type of transformation is possible in Mali.

In recent years, I have also worked as a part of Empower Mali and other foundations to help build schools for our children, provide scholarship opportunities to children in Mali to study abroad, purchase tractors for our farmers, and construct hospitals for our communities. While I am committed to my role as Ambassador, I will also continue to actively ensure through my contacts on the ground that our projects on the ground in Mali continue to grow, benefiting the communities in rural Mali. I urge Foundation benefactors to continue to support this work and encourage others to get involved as well.

I have worked hard every day as Mayor of Oueléssébougou to make lives better. It is with great honor that I accept the position of Ambassador to India, and I look forward to continuing my service to Mali in this new role. While this new position will take me away from my friends in and around Oueléssébougou, it will give me the opportunity to improve the lives of all Malians across the country and abroad. ”

This opportunity is just simply amazing! We are emboldened by the vote of confidence shown by the Malian government. I am so proud of Yeah and all he has done and continues to do to make Mali a better place. I have not met a more honest man or one that is very committed to making an impact for all his people in Mali. We are so grateful for all our supporters who have stayed the course with us. Our success today is in part due to your vote of confidence and support for all we do.

The journey to achieve a new Mali is not over yet. In fact, we have started a new phase. Keep you posted. Thank you for helping bless our people in Mali. May you be blessed!

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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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Election Day in MALI

Two years ago Yeah and I left the comforts and possibilities of America for Mali to pursue a different future for our family. A future that included helping improve the lives of 15.1 million people in one of the poorest countries in the world.

The journey has in no way been easy but at every step of the way, we have been blessed. We have blessed with family that supported our decision and guided us as we settled into a new, different life in Mali. We have been blessed with friends that have supported us emotionally and financially as we pursued an ambition to change the corrupt system and initiate change. It is your kind donations that have let us run a clean race untainted by corruption and stick on the stage with the corrupt, older giants of Malian politics. We have been blessed with new supporters each day both here and in America who have believed in our vision of a Mali that can break the chains of illiteracy and under- development and welcome a day when every Malian can have three meals a day, accessible, quality education, accessible low-cost healthcare, clean water and a job when they graduate.

Today, was an emotion filled day. Our day started as we cast our ballot in the city of Yeah’s birth. As we entered Ouélessébougou, we were touched to see the throngs of people clamoring to vote. The booths opened at 8 am and people were lining up long before that time. Many came to us, waving their left index finger proudly, stating the exact time they voted for Yeah.

The booths will close at 6 pm tonight. The manual counting and limited access to far regions will mean that most results will not be known until sometime tomorrow or day after.

We do not what tomorrow will bring. We do not know what the results will be. While we hope for the best, we know that we will continue to serve Mali in whatever capacity we can. Our goal is empowering Malians to better standards and a better life.

Our heart is filled with deep gratitude for all you have done to support us. We have been blessed by your friendship and have been touched by your investment in our campaign for Mali.

It is an investment that will never be forgotten.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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French Ambassador Rouyer makes historic visit to Ouelessebougou

Ouelessebougou and the surrounding communities welcomed a very special guest to their commune on March 26th, 2013. The visit was the first of its kind by a dignitary of this magnitude in this region of Mali. Given the recent circumstances in which France has extended solidarity to Mali, Yeah, in his mayoral capacity, invited the Ambassador of France to Mali, Ambassador Christian Rouyer, to see Ouelessebougou and experience the many developments ongoing in the region. Ouelessebougou already shares a sister city relationship with Pontivy in France. Through it many great projects in the areas of water and education has become a reality for Ouelessebougou.

Ambassador Rouyer and the French delegation were received with great pomp as he and his delegation entered the city of Ouelessebougou. The air was thick with excitement as such an event has not seen for as long as many could remember. The people of Ouelessebougou and the surrounding villages turned out in droves to meet the French delegation.

Ambassador Rouyer in his speech was very appreciative to the people that came out to welcome him so warmly. In his speech he expressed gratitude to the people of Ouelessebougou and also their leader Yeah. He has been very appreciative of the leadership role that Yeah has played since last year’s coup. Regarding the situation in Mali, he said it was France’s obligation to help Mali. For during the Second World War, it was many Malians who paid the price of freedom with their life as they fought for France. Now it was France’s turn to help Mali combat terrorists. About governance in Mali, Ambassador Rouyer bluntly stressed that “Mali is not condemned to poverty, corruption and rebellion. It’s just a question of governance. It has all the capacity and potential to remain strong among the great nations of the world. In any case”, he added, “the majority of Malians aspire to a profound change. To do this, the Malian people must take their destiny in hand through a high turnout in elections to elect men and women to meet their aspirations.” This was amazing to hear as it was a reaffirmation of what Yeah has been saying all along. Mali’s many problems come not from the lack or inability of Malians, but rather from the leadership that has failed them.

Mayor Yeah Samaké then presented the Ambassador with a flag of Mali as a token of appreciation. This is the same flag that Yeah was presented with by Colonel Keba Sangare in Tombouctou last week. Colonel Sangare is a Red Beret and paratrooper commando and is the current commander over the 5th military region in the North. He had presented Yeah with the Malian flag as an appreciation for what Yeah has done for Mali. By giving the same flag to Ambassador Rouyer, Yeah was extending the military’s appreciation for the French forces now fighting on Mali’s behalf.

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After the speeches and an afternoon filled with cultural richness, Ambassador Rouyer and his delegation joined the dancing. Malians love music and love to dance. For Malians to see “white” people dancing is indeed unique, but also it warms their hearts, for to them it is an acceptance and embracing of the Malian culture. The visitors were not shy. They seemed to truly enjoy the Malian culture that is often hidden in the city life of Bamako. Many of these diplomats will not venture past the main cities because their duties usually keep them in these areas.

The evening ended on a high note as Yeah led the delegation to look at all the development projects and achievements Ouelessebougou enjoys today. Ouelessebougou enjoys the spot as one of the top 5 cities in terms of development and management. Many people in Ouelessebougou have not been as affected by the economic crisis in Mali as other villages and cities. This is apparent in the level of development projects present and the life style of the people of Ouelessebougou. As they toured the solar panel field, high school, the hospital and water tank, there was great, genuine, appreciation for how far Ouelessebougou has progressed in comparison to other areas.

The date that this took place is also a memorable date for Malians. March 26th marks the anniversary of the martyrs that lost their lives for democracy in Mali. On March 26th, 1991, after days of fighting, displeasure over the military dictator Moussa Traore’s government reached its peak. Many university students especially lost their lives as riots seized the streets of Bamako. I remember Yeah telling me, that back in those days, he was a student at ENSUP. He remembers going to join the movement against the dictator. However with the death toll mounting, his father came all the way to Bamako and pleaded with him not to join. Soon, the army lead by Lieutenant-colonel Amadou Toumani Touré (the same President who was overthrown last year), refused to fight the civilians and instead with a team of 18 other soldiers they arrested and overthrew President Moussa Traore. Malians have long celebrated those that gave their lives for the democracy movement. This year, this day holds more significance for it is a caution that those deaths should not continue to be in vain. That the democracy that they fought for should not be forgotten and that Mali must return to a government where the people are represented.

Ambassador Rouyer expressed his genuine gratitude for this memorable event. It comes at a time, when his tour of duty in Mali comes to an end. A Sarkozy appointee, he will return to France soon and he will be replaced by Gilles Huberson. He has been an outspoken advocate for the French military intervention and had been posted in Mali since 2011 and had cautioned about rebels in the North long before they took over.

This is a memorable event for Ouelessebougou as well. It comes at a time when Ouelessebougou is enjoying its own successes and growth. It is hoped this event will only bring more development opportunities to Ouelessebougou and the surrounding communities.

It is at times like this, that I pray that people will see the great work that Yeah does. Yeah doesn’t do it because he will personally gain. The successes of his people and his community are paramount to any political ambitions. However we realize that it is only through our political ambitions that we can spread the successes of Ouelessebougou to all of Mali.

I have read comments that try to downplay Yeah’s popularity. I would urge all these naysayers to actually venture past the walls of Bamako and gain a true perspective of the 80% population and what they say about Yeah Samaké. What Mali needs is a leader that is trustworthy and dependable. A leader that will guide Mali to greatness and Malians to a better standard of living. A leader that has actually done something for his community and given rather than taken away from Mali.

This all is possible. Two words: YEAH SAMAKE.

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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Dialakoroji seeks clean running water from Presidential candidate

What other way to start the weekend than with a rally? As Yeah was holding his meetings in Paris, Team Samake, headed by Secretary General Fomba, started off the weekend with a rally in Dialakoroji, Koulikoro, Mali. Yeah’s brother, Drissa Samake, who teaches Chemistry at the University, had arranged this meeting to introduce Yeah’s vision to the people of this region.

Kane kicked of the meeting by telling the 120 in attendance about Yeah’s background. The Secretary General Fomba spoke of Yeah’s achievements. Fomba emphasized the difference between Yeah and other candidates. He advised that other parties misuse their funds, and are looking only for power. The people need a leader who will not misuse the people’s money and use it only to increase the welfare of Malians. If the current issues of education and healthcare are resolved, he said only good can come for the future generations.

One of the requests made by the women in the village was for a garden. Fomba suggested that the women co-op should get together and get a microfinance loan.  Another of the requests of Dialakoroji was the need for a water system. The wife of the village leader put forth the concern that to get drinkable water, the villagers had to hike up a mountain every Sunday to get water for the week. The road is difficult and the path rocky for walking or even driving. By bringing a water source to the village, Dialakoroji could be made sustainable as they would not only be able to provide water for their needs but also be able to grow crops at a lower level for their own dietary needs as well as financial means.

At the end of the meeting the group went to see the water source in question. It is amazing the things we take for granted, clean drinking water, and here there are people who have to walk miles up a difficult mountain, just to be able to get drinking water.

After, the group played Yeah’s video that highlighted all that Samake2012 stood for and the change that he could bring if he was elected.

This was a great meeting and it showed the support that Yeah is building in the villages. Many of the candidates have not visited the villages to campaign like Yeah has. These villages are essential to winning the campaign as there are some essential issues that need to be addressed like education, healthcare, and electricity and clean running water. This campaign hopefully will be won on issues. That is the hope that the people will be driven to the polls to choose a leader that could bring change and not a leader that can pay his way into newspapers and into Koulouba, and then once he is there he forgets about the people who actually suffer on a daily basis.

Here’s to choosing a leader that will make the difference for present and future generations on April 29th. Support honest leadership at www.samake2012.com. Vive Mali!

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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Sikasso makes its voice heard

Team Samaké headed by Yeah left at 4 am in the morning so they could make it to a meeting in Sikasso, which is 375km or a 6-hour drive away. The next campaign area would be an essential one for the Samake2012 campaign.

Sikasso is a picturesque city in the south of Mali and the capital of the Sikasso Region.  It borders Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Guinea. The reason this region is essential is because of its size. It is the second largest electoral region with a population of about 190,000. Yeah was traveling to Sikasso to meet with an essential group whose support or lack there of could bring either success or failure to his campaign. This group is none other than the mayors and commune leaders of Sikasso.

One of Yeah’s most basic policies is decentralization—the return of power from the central to local governments by empowering local governments to take a more proactive stance in running their day-to-day affairs. You would think that the minute a mayor heard decentralization, they would immediately be on aboard given that more power would rest with the Mayors office than before. However the biggest change would be accountability. At the local level, these leaders would have to be accountable to the constituents of their communes. It is easier to cheat someone when you cannot see their face. But when you are literally sharing the same bread, it is not that easy. To truly want to serve and empower one’s people, mayors need to embrace decentralization.

When Yeah initially started to speak, the skepticism hung around the room like a wet blanket. However the power of seeing something can never compare with words. The minute the video that shows his story ended, his audience was sold.

Here was a man who had never taken a dime of any Malian’s money. Rather, he had given much back. The schools he has built through generous donors in America would not only affect this generation but generations to come. The medical and dental expeditions that had come would help extend someone’s life and in some cases save lives. The school supplies that he encouraged Americans to donate would allow children to each experience if only for a little while the joy of having their own supplies. Having clean running water in Ouelessebougou would help reduce diseases. A solar panel would help produce electricity to run a commune. Computers would infuse a fresh life of technology into classrooms. What these mayors saw was what Yeah could do given a few resources. Now imagine, if he was able to turn a country rich in resources to a country that utilized its resources to benefit its people and not its leader’s pockets.

The vision Yeah emphasized in French was: « Ma mission est d’assurer un Mali décentralisé pour une école de qualité, une meilleure gestion des ressources humaines et financières, une meilleure responsabilisation des décideurs, et la promotion de l’entreprenariat ». (My mission is to provide a decentralized Mali to ensure higher quality of schools, better management of human resources and financial resources, better accountability of decision makers, and promoting entrepreneurship). The excitement was palatable as Mayors got up to shake his hand. I’m not saying every mayor in that room was converted, but we made enough of a stir that mayors would at least question the current policies that hindered growth and prosperity in their communes. The outcome of this first huge meeting was a large group of mayors from Koutiala (one of the regions) approached Yeah and told him they would hold a rally and invite the surrounding communes to come and hear his message. This was only the beginning of an amazing day.

Speaking to the mayors

The next essential meeting was held at the Hotel Maissa. Here the target group was a youth leadership group that was first created when PACP was announced. They were extremely excited to finally meet the candidate on whose behalf they had been campaigning for so long. Yeah spoke with quiet command. He spoke of his dream for a safe and stable Mali. He spoke about the needs of this youth group to have a stable education and job when they graduate. He gave them a hope that their time had come. It was time for their needs to be brought to the forefront. Education or the lack there of is a big issue in Mali today. For the past 6 months, the high schools and universities have been shut over a teacher’s strike. The government had been unable to fix the issue in a timely and just manner to all parties. How can a government like this function? 50 more years of inadequacy will continue if Malian youth do not fight for what they deserve. They deserve a better education, they deserve a better job, and they deserve a better future for themselves and their families. And it’s not too much to ask. The education system needs to be revamped. More than a 1000 more schools need to be built and teachers trained. Yeah Samaké is the man for the job!

Participants at the Meeting

One of things that Yeah has reiterated time and again is that “Mali is not a poor country; rather it has been made poor by the actions of its leaders”. On the way back, the team was taken aback by the serene beauty of Sikasso. It is hard not to fall in love with the serenity and uncomplicated way of life that these people have. In some places, you can even see the red brick wall (tata) that dates back to the French invasion. This region without a doubt could join the ranks of Timbuktu in terms of tourism. Sikasso also has one of the biggest networks of tunnels that are man-made. These tunnels were used by locals as hiding places during the war but now serve as a place to perform rituals. The view was breathtaking and indescribable.

One of the tunnels

The next interesting scene is closely related to one of Mali’s exports. Mali is the third biggest producer of gold in Africa. Lo and behold, what do we find as we are driving back? Gold Panning! We ran into a huge crowd of men, women and children surrounding a few extremely deep holes in the ground as they brought up bucket after bucket to pan for gold. This was awesome to watch!

Seeing how the bore hole works

The trip to Sikasso was an eye opener, not only in terms of support but also a wake up call to a different way of life. We think life is difficult if we are missing a TV or our Iphone. Malians are nor asking for much. What they are asking for is a good education, a stable healthcare system, jobs when they graduate and a fair chance to make a decent life for themselves. I truly believe that Yeah is the man for the job. This country needs someone who will put their interests first before their own, someone who will not embezzle from the country and someone whose expertise lies in education in developing countries. Please help us make these things a possibility by supporting us at www.samake2012.com. Together, let’s celebrate the country Mali can become under good leadership. Vive Mali!

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(Thank you to the Arringtons for the pictures and Cole & the Goodine group ( Travis and Joe) for their Midas touch on this video.)

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Ségou mayors support decentralization

Team Samaké left for Ségou, Mali early in the morning on February 16th. Their mission: to educate mayors from the region of Ségou about the Samake2012 vision for a stable, prosperous Mali filled with opportunities for its people.

Ségou (Seku, Segu) is a city in south-central Mali, lying 235 kilometers (146 mi) northeast of Bamako on the River Niger, in the region of Ségou. It was founded by the Bozo people, on a site about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from the present town. With 100,000 inhabitants, it is the third largest city in Mali.

Yeah central point to creating a prosperous Mali is decentralization. What you might say, does decentralization have to do with a stable, prosperous Mali? In theory decentralization has been around for a long time. In practice, it does not exist.  The time has come for the central government to return power back to the local governments, creating an environment in which the people can hold their own leaders accountable for the actions in the commune. I think of it in this way too. As parents, we struggle sometimes to let our children make their own decisions. Failure to let them “live a little” will make them dependent individuals that cannot manage their own lives/decisions. However, if you teach them everything you can and then let them go, they are held accountable in part by the acquaintances that surround them. Without teaching them, they don’t and can’t differentiate from right and wrong. The same is with decentralization. USAID states in its In-Country report of Mali: “We find that the state has devolved some degree of authority and has made modest efforts in other areas (most notably the prospects for accountability implicit in local elections), but that autonomy and capacity remain generally low at the local level.” The central government needs to let go of power and return it to the local leaders. It is harder to hold a big government organization accountable in a country the size of Texas. By letting people at the local level conduct hold their commune leaders accountable, they will see a lot more return on investment of the taxes they pay. Take Ouelessebougou for example. 3 years ago, it was listed as the 699th commune out of the 703 communes in terms of development and transparency. Only 10% of taxes were being paid and mayor office employees had not been paid in 6 months because the previous mayor had been embezzling money. Look at Ouelessebougou today. Today due to measures instituted to ensure transparency and accountability 80% of taxes are being paid on time, employees are paid without fail on the 25th of every month, and Ouelessebougou is listed in the top ten cities in Mali. There are experts at the mayor’s office in the different sections of land, water and other areas, to allow people to discuss their issue directly with these individuals without waiting for the Mayor to make a decision. Power is distributed so that people within the Mayor’s office are empowered to make decisions and held accountable for the decisions they make by the Mayor and his constituents. Development wise Yeah has been able to lobby and get funds from the central government to build the first ever high school in the region, the biggest hospital in the region and the biggest solar panel field in Mali. If Yeah is elected on April 29th 2012, he could spread the success of decentralization to the rest of Mali.

That was the message of hope that Yeah wanted to share with these mayors of Ségou. About 100 mayors crowded into the room. Many had been drawn to the free lunch that Yeah was offering. The leading Mayor of Ségou introduced Yeah to his colleagues. Saying: “I am not here for myself, I am not here for Americans or for the French, I am here for the Malians”, Yeah seized their attention. He started telling about all the things he had been able to accomplish for his fellow-Malians. There is not one Malian candidate running today that has served his people without benefitting like Yeah has. Yeah’s words were solidified by a video showing evidence of the schools built, the water system in Ouelessebougou, the new school and hospital and the solar panel field. The skepticism vanished as the video ended. Yeah had instilled a new sense of hope in these mayors as he spoke about the power of decentralization and how it could better serve them as mayors and help them better serve their own people. The room filled with raised hands to ask questions. The questions continued with a passion and the gusto with which they were asked would have kept Team Samake there for a long time. The question surrounded topics like education, electricity, water, healthcare and decentralization. At one point, one of the mayors stood up to dispute Yeah’s policy of decentralization. Yeah did not even have to answer as seven mayors stood up to defend him and re-explain how things could only be beneficial for the mayors to better serve their communes. This was the take away point. Yeah Samake was the candidate that could best represent mayors and better support them so they could in turn support their people’s needs.

This was a successful trip for the Samake2012 campaign. The support just keeps growing day after day. It will be important to capitalize on these connections that we are making. This is Mali’s time. Decentralization is the key to creating a country that is stable and empowering people to stand up for the things that truly affect their daily lives. Please support us at www.samake2012.com. We cannot do this without you. Together, let’s welcome a new day in Mali and a new sense of hope for the Malian people. Are you in?

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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PACP Leadership Conference: une réussite totale( A total success)

PACP held its first major leadership conference February 4th 2012. The aim of the conference was to educate community leaders in the communes of Bamako about the potential of Yeah Samake as the future President of Mali. About 20 journalists and the major TV network ORTM covered this event.

At 10am, Yeah, I and the rest of PACP leadership walked into an auditorium housing about 200 people. This was a little different from the dancing and music that usually greets us at the rallies. The hushed silence erupted into clapping as we walked down the aisle to the stage. The room felt like it had a heavy air of skepticism. Many of these community leaders are educated and it was essential that this town hall style meeting be held to get them on board.

The meeting started with a 5 minute video about Yeah’s achievements in Mali to date. It showed the schools that were built, water pumps installed, children that came to the US and the computers that were donated. It showed the medical teams that came every year to treat people from as far as Mopti and Sikasso. The highlight of the video was the solar panel installation in Ouelessebougou. I say this was the highlight because it was during his welcome speech at this function that Yeah challenged the President to allow decentralization to happen more completely. Yeah’s central policy is decentralization of the central government’s power so that the local government can function effectively and address corruption more effectively. When the people can hold their government accountable, the government will be more effective and be less prone to corrupt leaders. In a big country like Mali, this is more important than ever. The video also showed the President’s speech at this event in which he is almost endorsing Yeah by saying he wished there were more Malians that gave back to their people like Yeah did. The video was punctuated by clapping but the end gave way to a standing ovation.

When the video ended, we took the stage again. The difference between Yeah and the other candidates is that Yeah has a story to tell. His humble beginnings resound clearly with other Malians that share it. However his aspirations and his education are a lesson to many that if you push hard enough, even the poorest person will prevail. He is also the statement of the end product of education that shows Malians what one can become with a good, sound education. Yeah spoke very eloquently in French to his audience. He spoke of his life early on, his father who was the visionary and his mother who was the silent supporter. Yeah’s mother was an amazing woman, from what I have heard. Her silent agony as her children suffered was evident in her actions. During the days when the family would usually go hungry, Yeah’s mother would also go to the families in the neighbor collecting the chaff of the millet. She would bring this back, salt it and give it to her kids so that they would have something in their stomachs as they headed to school. In my opinion, she was as much a visionary and supporter as Tiecourafing Samaké. My daughter Carmen carries her name Sanamba as her middle name and I hope that Sanamba’s strength and spirit will guide her through life. Yeah spoke also of how he had the opportunity to gain an education and how he came back with the Mali Rising Foundation through generous donors to give the gift of education to villages that otherwise would have seen decades more of illiteracy. He introduced his brother Drissa, who now has a PhD and his brother Daouda who has a Bachelors as products of the same success story. When he was done, he opened the forum to questions.

The questions came in huge numbers and addressed everything from Yeah’s plans for education, the issues in the North of Mali and electricity. This part of the forum was in a mixture of Bambara and French. Yeah advised that many of the issues in Mali today are based on a lack of education and employment opportunities. He spoke about the issues in the North highlighting that it was not a Northern problem but a Malian problem. He spoke of how if the ways existed for people to make money through honest work, there would be no need to join the terrorists in the North. He advised that Malians should support the army to fight the problem in the North instead of just saying it was the North’s problem to fight it. The army needs to secure the borders so militants cannot cross with arms. Currently, there is fighting in the North region and strikes in the south as people protest the government’s lack of response to the fighting as well as the government sending few soldiers with limited arms to fight them. On the issue of electricity, Yeah used Ouelessebougou as a prime example of affordable energy. The solar panels in Ouelessebougou currently provide electricity to the residents. If elected, many more installations of this kind would go up to create clean, affordable energy. Yeah during the Q&A round also introduced my background. He said he believed in Mali so much and that I had the same convictions. He asked why else would I uproot my family from the comfortable, opportunity filled life of the US to come to Mali. Why else would I enroll my children in the Malian education system? He spoke of my faith and my hope for Mali under a strong leader. Another question raised was about women and opportunities for them. Yeah spoke about how the woman is an essential part of society and the educational opportunities need to be given to them as well so that they may become equal partners in the workforce. Yet another question focused on corruption and how Yeah would combat it. Yeah used his term in Ouelessebougou as a prime example of combating corruption. When he became mayor in 2009, people refused to pay taxes because the taxes were going into the mayor’s pocket. By introducing an open line of communication and accountability, Yeah was able to ensure that the taxes were collected and people shown where their tax money went. Today Ouelessebougou boasts a 68% tax collection rate. When Yeah first became mayor, all the salaries were months behind. Yeah paid all the salaries and since he has been in office, the salary is paid without fail on the 25th of every month. This would not be possible if corruption continued to seize the funds that people were paying in tax money. The questions went on and on. Even as we approached the final minutes when we had to end, people still wanted continue.

This was an excellent meeting and more town hall meetings of this kind are planned in other electoral districts. The people need to hear Yeah’s message. When we left that room, even the biggest skeptics became supporters. No one can deny Yeah’s amazing story or what he has done for his people. There is not one candidate that has given back to the Malian people like Yeah has. There is not one candidate that has the background that Yeah has which allows him to understand his people’s current suffering.

Yeah Samake is the candidate if Mali wants change. He is the candidate if Mali desires to get out of the hole 52 years of corrupt, bad leadership has thrown it into. He is the candidate of hope for a better education system that ensures Malian graduates can compete against foreign graduates. He is the candidate if Malians want a role model that can show what honest, open leadership is. He is the candidate who can bring Mali as an equal to discussions at the UN and African summits instead of the country asking for handouts. Mali is not a poor country. The actions of its leaders have made it poor. The time has come for Mali to raise itself out of the misery its former leaders have condemned it to. Yeah is the candidate that can reform Mali and make it a symbol of opportunity and change. The time is now. If you can help, the time has come to help. The elections are 3 months away. Support us at Samake2012.com. We need all the help we can to help Mali become the country where opportunities are in abundance and dreams become a reality. Vive PACP! Vive Yeah Samake! But most of all Vive Mali! May the hopes and dreams of all Malians be answered with Yeah Samake as President.

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IN THE NEWS

Journal 22Septembre: Contre le banditisme armé au Nord: Yeah Samaké propose un verrouillage de nos frontières

http://www.maliweb.net/2012/02/09/contre-le-banditisme-arme-au-nord-yeah-samake-propose-un-verrouillage-de-nos-frontieres/

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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