Just four more weeks until Elise and I will travel to Mali to support the Mali Project, very exciting. In the last months we gathered support to scale up the seed of amazing work that has been done since 2004.
Dynamic people have joined the project:
1) Tomas, my closest companion from the Masters at UNSW, Sydney, who left a safe job with the Canadian government to consult the World Bank in Sydney. He will join us in Africa in January!
2) Jeffrey, an amazing American working on a new model of sustainable development. He ran a big development/business endeavor in Armenia (CARD) and is writing his PhD in Melbourne, currently.
3) Manfred, a long time business friend and creative director of a marketing agency who is going to support us with our new internet site and communications.
Tomas' update on the Mali project on his unitedstates4africa blog:
"Almost the entire country lives off a little more than $1/day. Given all these factors it is not difficult to see why the average life expectancy in Mali is a shocking 48 years of age.
But all these negative factors is neither here nor there. Since March 2007 Elise, Juergen and I have (with the help of many supportive friends and family) discussed how we can take the Mali project to the next level. What does this mean? Well, at the present moment we have an amazing base to build from - two schools, a vocational school (No need to focus only on math/science when the country has a shortage of masons/plummers), healthcare centre, women's entrepreneurship project and street children social entrepreneurship project. We also have incredible drive, passion and vision from Youchaou on the ground in Western Africa. I was fortunate to meet Youchaou here in Sydney when he visited in June 2007.
The local and international personalities are key to this project - each one of us brings in something complementary to the overall team: Youchaou as community leader and founder, Elise as founder, program architect and successful fundraiser; my previous experience working for the UN in East Africa, and experience with government and international donor institutions and finally Juergen - dreamer, compassionate Buddhist and extensive private sector experience - key to securing donations from companies like Google and inculcating a business mindset in all of us!
So how do we scale up? Where does the Mali Project go from here - how does it grow? How do Elise, Juergen and I along with Youchaou - ensure the project is sustainable through 2010 and beyond? Western donors I have met with - World Bank, Canadian International Development Agency have provided some good advice on our scale up potential. ...
I think we can do this, and not just to satisfy donors funding requirements but because for the communities in Mali - ensuring a long-term vision and continuous funding for the project is sensible. There is hard work ahead for all of us to translate this into reality.
We will take the passion from Mali and nuance this to fit with Western donor expectations. However, all of us will certainly be mindful to never lose sight of the fact that this project remains driven by those in Mali. The goal has always been to reduce poverty and create new opportunities - Millennium Development Goal #1. The Mali Project began after a call for assistance from Youchaou. No one dreamed the Mali Project would be where it is now. Three years on the project has evolved and donors are showing interest. We will take this enthusiasm and draft a strategic plan with Youchaou and Kalabankoro that works - not to suit a bureaucratic requirement far away in the West but because this makes sense for the community and supports the livelihood of its people.
The day will come when Western funding is no longer necessary in Mali and Kalabankoro. This is still some time off but it is my hope in seven to ten years residents of Kalabankoro will have attained educational levels that attract and create more productive employment opportunities, increased investment in local infrastructure, better health care and ultimately, improved living standards. It can be done..."
Visit Tomas' unitedstates4africa.
Read The Mali Project: How it all began - the first school.
Read The Mali Project - Making a Difference in Africa.
See The Mali Project Video: Social Entrepreneurs building a School.