Ambassador Yeah Samake was the forum speaker on May 17.
Samake grew up in Mali, a country in West Africa in the town of Ouelessebougou which his great, great grandfather founded.
“I come from a very modest background, where my father had to take dramatic measures for all of us to get an education at the cost of going hungry.” Samake said. “I’m so grateful that he had that vision to end the cycle of poverty in our family.”
He said after attending school in Mali he went to university to learn English so he could become an English teacher.
“Upon graduation I couldn’t get a job because the government couldn’t afford to hire me,” Samake said.
He decided to teach the young people in his village English as a volunteer for three years.
He was then offered an opportunity to come to America, and while attending classes he was introduced to the LDS church and joined the Church 18 years ago.
Samake has gone on to be Mayor of Ouelessebougou, vice president of Mali’s League of Mayors, candidate in the 2013 Malian presidential election, Ambassador of Mali to India and is currently running again in the presidential election in Mali.
The message Samake hopes those who attended the forum received is that everyone can contribute something by the small things we do every day.
“We can all contribute to our communities,” Samake said. “We can do so with small actions, consistent small actions that we take can bring incredible impact and results in our community, on campus, and in our country.”
Whether it is in a local or national level, Samake said, we can all be agents of change as we set our hearts to serving others then our own needs will be met.
“What I have been able to accomplish in my country, it is through the power of integrity,” Samake said.
He said if anyone who has had a difficult past, the key to make a better life is having faith.
“Faith is an important part in our personal progress, it gives us hope,” Samake said. “With that we don’t focus on what is not going well but what is going right.”