Thursday, October 27, 2011

mali rising

I could be approaching the end of my life.
I could be experiencing my last year, everything winding down, the end terribly in sight. this could be it for me, and for all of my peers as well.
many of my friends, a good portion of my biking buddies, my brother and his wife, definitely my mom, her husband, my dads, their partners . . .
were we living in Mali, we would likely all be dead or rapidly approaching death.

the average life expectancy for males in Mali is 48, and for females is 49.

a while back I attended a fundraiser for an organization called Mali Rising.
this group, run by a man named Yeah Samake, focuses on increasing education for the children of their nation. they use funds to build schools, to train teachers, to expand educational opportunities for all children, especially girls. in many third world countries females come second to males when educational options are limited: Mali Rising is one of many organizations which are trying to change this practice.
Mali is a land-locked nation in northwestern africa, with the following statistics:

Population: 13 million
Capital: Bamako
Area: 1.25 million sq km (482,077 sq miles)
Major languages: French, Bambara
Main exports: Cotton, gold, livestock
Annual per capita income: US $500
Economic base: Agriculture and fishing (80%), Industry and service (20%)

everything about me---from my home ownership to cycling to my graduate degree to the ease of my life---would not be, had I been born to a typical family in Mali.

I often express the fact that I'm glad I'm not in charge of the world, for I don't know what I'd do. I don't know how I'd solve its problems, structure its government, design its roads (except they'd all be fresh, smooth asphalt, of course). I am overwhelmed by the enormity of challenges presented, and although I excel at seeing the Big Picture, I am not always so good at envisioning solutions, let alone implementing them.
there is a line from a beatles song, we all want to change the world.
well, I would like to change the world.
I'd like the people of Mali to live longer, lose fewer children to preventable childhood diseases, be less poverty-stricken, have access to more support/food/clean water/job opportunities/education.
and bicycles.
so that they all could, at least a half dozen times, feel the joy of riding a bike in the early morning when the world is fresh and new, and everything is possible.

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