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Faces of Mali

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Mask Seller by Edgar Gomez Palmieri

The images for “Faces of Mali” were captured by Edgar Gomez-Palmieri and Yeah Samake during working visits for a Utah biotech project. Samake is president of Empower Mali, a Sandy-based organization that builds village-owned and operated schools.

“The people of rural Mali have a culture that is rich in tradition and history, and it is delightful that people all over Utah will be able to enjoy this photo essay,” said Samake. “Many Utahns already have a positive connection with Malians by helping us explore and record our ancestry, build schools and better educate our children.” For five years, SMGF, a non-profit research organization, has been collecting DNA and family history information from Malians in the process of creating the world’s largest repository of correlated genetic genealogical information.

Empower Mali is a foundation established to work directly with citizens and local leaders in Mali to improve access to education, health care and basic amenities. Empower Mali believes that the citizens and communities of Mali have the right to become self-reliant. They work to form a close partnership with the citizens of Mali and Malian government officials, believing no one knows the needs better than the community they serve. They also focus on training leaders in these communities so the effects of their projects become long-term and self-sustainable.

Today’s Republic of Mali includes the legendary Saharan Desert city of Timbuktu, a name once used as shorthand for remoteness in Western civilization. Timbuktu was a crossroads for ancient commercial routes and is believed to have established one of the world’s first universities in the 14th century. Mali has a population of 15 million and is one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 174 of 175 in measures of wealth.

Resources

2013-2014 Traveling Schedule

August 27 – October 2 ~ SUU Library, Cedar City
October 8 – November 7 ~ North Sanpete High School
January 7 – February 5 ~ Hobble Creek Elementary,  Mapleton
February 26 – March 26 ~ Granger Elementary, West Valley City