02 November 2011

Exciting Inauguration of new Sterntaler Vocational School in Mali

Last week I had the great pleasure to return to Mali, West Africa, in my capacity of founder and chairman of the NGO 'Sterntaler für Afrika' (and unrelated to my UNDP work). It was of great honor to inaugurate the biggest project so far of this 3-year old organisation driven by private initiative: a new Vocational School!

I am very proud and grateful for the great work of our Malian partners, Youchaou Traore and his team, and all Sterntaler and Mali Initiative supporters. It was a festive ceremony with over 400 people and the Malian TV covered it in their weekend news. Below you find the text of my passionate speech:

"Mayor of Kalabancoro
Officials of the Government
Representatives of the Community
Mesdames et Messieurs
Parents and Students

28 October 2011, Kalabancoro, Bamako, Mali

I am Jürgen Nagler, Chairman of Sterntaler für Afrika, the German NGO who has supported this important project. It is my honor to speak to you now and share the reasons for our support and also some words from my heart to inspire positive change.

Together with my three friends accompanying me, we represent the over 100 German supporters, from parents to students and companies, that have donated resources, from finances to laptops to time & effort to spread the news about the vision of this school.

Why have we come to Mali and invested our time and energy into this? When I first came to Mali in 2008 I was first shocked by the poverty and lack of infrastructure and opportunities. However, underneath the surface, there were signs of hope:
  1. Malians are people with a big and peaceful heart, and a great sense of humor.
  2. There is a strong network of family ties and people seem to help each other much more than in more urban, industrialized and individualistic cultures.
  3. There are courageous people taking initiative, not only to develop themselves but also the wider communities around them.
One of the most courageous and inspiring people in the development field I have ever met, is also the visionary of this project: Youchaou Traoré. Coming from a small rural village, he was a former beggar in the street. A family member found him and he took his chances going to school. He learned reading and writing, first French than English, and through dedication and aspiration became one of the best students in school and university. He started his translation business and decided to give children the same chance as he received: education. His courage is proven by first starting all alone but – because self-help attracts help – he found partners from abroad such as Australia, USA and Germany.

I would like to suggest to the Malian or international TV and media to interview him and show his inspiring life story to the widest audience possible. Dear parents, tell his story to your children demonstrating that the ones who take initiative can achieve their dreams. Government officials, please fight corruption and mismanagement, and ensure a fair environment for entrepreneurs and private schools to unleash their initiatives.

Why is Youchaou’s story so important and what does it stand for? Is he just a man with luck, or can we learn something from him to develop our own lives, families and communities? My response is: there is no luck because everything has a reason even if we might not yet understand it. Nelson Mandela’s favorite poem Invictus explains why:
I am the Master of my Fate.
I am the Captain of my Soul.

Nelson Mandela never gave up to believe in love, courage, freedom and positive change, even after decades in jail, being trialed and abused. I do want to support these visionaries who show initiative and who believe in positive change, for themselves and the world. These people are inspired and do inspire me. Therefore, I decided to partner with Youchaou and his team.

Help yourself and you will be helped. This is a philosophy of myself and Sterntaler. Having travelled to over 50 countries all over the world, I have found the following 5 points on fulfilling one’s life potential:
  1. Take full responsibility for your life, you are not a victim but the change maker in your life.
  2. Do what you love and be courageous.
  3. Listen to your heart, mind, conscience and soul.
  4. Listen to ‘signs’ that might mark your way and continue walking your path.
  5. Discover your life purpose and unique talents that every human being has.
Herby, as Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the Change you want to see in the World”.
Together we are building a bridge of friendship between Mali and Germany, Africa and Europe. As we will be returning to Germany this weekend, we will take the positive pictures and inspiring stories from our visit here back to our friends and colleagues at Sterntaler and are committed to continue our support to this important new school.

As Nelson Mandela said: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world’. Therefore, I wish this school to become one of the biggest and best in Africa, and all of you a happy and fulfilled life.

Katile haere chaia (shall peace be with you)."

Enlightened Business Summit – Free Five Day Teleseminar Event

This seems to be a very interesting event: Enlightened Business Summit – Free Five Day Teleseminar Event

The summit features over 30 leaders in the world of conscious business including Daniel Pink, Daniel Goleman, T. Harv Eker, Marci Shimoff, Marshall Goldsmith, eBay CEO John Donahoe, Meng Tan of Google and many more.

It happens November 7th - 11th, and there’s no cost to attend this virtual week-long event. You can register here: www.enlightenedbusinesssummit.com