Friday, January 27, 2012

{ Waka Waka! This time for Mali, Africa! }

I have so many things to share!

Mali is the second poorest country in the world (ranked closely with many other African nations). About 90% of the population is Muslim. The literacy rate is about 47% and unemployment rate is above 30%. The average age is 16 years old. Their leading exports are cotton, iron-ore, and gold. Geographically, they are 65% desert.

Kind of some cool stuff I've learned...there are so many different tribes/orgins/ethnicities here in Mali. I had the most fascinating discussion with one of my co-workers and fellow Samake supports the other french :) The Bambara people make up the majority of Mali - they are the agriculture and farming people...then there's the Fula (or Peul, in French) people - they are the cow, sheep, ranching kind of people...Then there are the Bozo people - they are the fishermen along the Niger river...and lastly, the Dogon people - they live in the plateau region of Mali, their homes built up in the cliffs, and they are known for agriculture as well but they are also very religious and artistic. So, there you have it, the main ethnicities of Malians.

Mali has a strong democracy, with a relatively strong constitution, similar to that of France's, implemented in 1992, but they have stagnated and need a strong leader. Right now, a lot of the people love their current leader, ATT - Amadou Toumani Touré. But he isn't running for reelection (he can't - he's done his 2 terms) and the people desperately need change. They need education.

The Malian people generally make $1.25 a day...often less, sometimes closer to $1.50. The average net income for a person is US $680 a year. Can you even imagine? We squeal if we don't get $8 AN HOUR. The average Malian family is about 5 kids (sometimes more like 2-3 in the younger generations) in the city and about 10 kids in the village. That gets expensive! So, even if both parents are working, they make about $60 a month...And food isn't much cheaper fact, not at all. In India, rice was expensive...but here, it's even more expensive. It costs about $50 for a large bag of rice that would maybe last a month. And another $50 or so for a months worth of oil. And the costs just keep coming...chicken here is rather expensive - about $5 for a chicken - so it's a delicacy even for the families more well-off.

On top of that, they have to pay for education. Well, for ages 7-16 it's free - but not really. Families still have to pay for the cost of supplies and transportation And it's not mandatory. So, if you can save money each month by not sending your kids to school and instead sending them to work, then you might even be able to buy some extra rice. Well, it costs about $1 a month to send a child to school after age 16. If you have 3 kids at that age, and 5 others kids still going but for "free" that's probably about $10 a that the people generally don't have. Therefore, why would you become educated? It's hard to see the long-term benefits when you may have to starve in order to attend school, which doesn't earn you money to feed your hungry belly. Only 61% of children enroll in Primary School (ages 7-13) but only 36% of those that enroll actually finish Primary School. And then only 15% actually enroll in Secondary School (ages 13-19 - 20% males, 10% females)...we couldn't find a number for how many actually finish.

And even to take this a little further, dental hygiene is nearly nonexistent here. Especially for the village families...if you have 10 kids and have to buy them all toothbrushes and toothpaste (which is about $2 a tube which would last maybe 2 weeks?) then, there goes another $5 or so a month! How would the people eat? Starve to brush your teeth? No, that doesn't make sense either. So, here in Mali, some people will chew on a type of tree bark to kind of clean their teeth. In India, the people would chew on neem leaves to kind of clean their teeth and supposedly make their breath smell better.

Interesting, right?

It all starts to make sense...

Now, what can you do to change the lives of these people? How can you help? Maybe help them to elect a President who will require education? Promote a leader who will make a way to pay for the families, even subsidize the families, to send their children to school? Campaigns are costly...I'm proud to be working for Monsieur Yeah Samake, the future President of Mali. He is the change that, Africa...needs to move towards a new phase of development, and a better future for the lives of millions of children.

Stay tuned for some PICTURES! And get ready to learn some Bambara!!!

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