Ségou Villages Connection, the Rising Voices grantee from Mali has a simple objective, linking between the residents of rural villages and the larger cities of Mali using mobile phones and internet.
Malian blogger Boukary Konaté, the driving force behind the project explains why this linking is vital:
The lack of means of information and communication in the rural areas is one of the reasons that many events and good initiatives of development stay hidden. Villages abound in events, in traditions, in customs, in culture which deserve to be known by the others.
Boukary was recently featured in a series of video interviews conducted by Phil Paoletta on the site How to Draw Camels. In this video, Boukary talks about how residents of Ségou villages, who have very little access to the internet will be able to to use their mobile phones to send news about the communities to the residents living in the capital Bamako.
On the May 1st, 2011, a training session was arranged in the village named “Cinzana-Gare”, 30 km from Ségou. The training focused on how to send news and information to the site administrators and blog moderators by SMS and by mammy wagons by the participants in the different villages and how to create a system of feedback between the readers and the villagers.
At the end of this training, a very courageous team was capable of sending news by SMS although they did not have their own computer, solar panel, batteries and mobile Internet.
Here are some of these SMS messages which are different from those that we daily read on Web:
Seydou, a teacher of Ngakoro in the commune of Cinzana-Gare asks us this question:
“Can the solar energy replace the wood for the kitchen to avoid the deforestation?”
“L’énergie solaire peut-elle remplacer le bois pour la cuisine afin d’éviter la déforestation ? » (Seydou’s SMS in french)
Hamidou, a teacher of Ngakoro, tells about the difficulties of having an working telephone network in that village:
“If you need to join us in Ngakoro by telephone, be patient, insist on the call because we don't haven our telephones with us everywhere. The difficulties of having the network in the village obliges us to suspend telephones on trees and on wild. When the telephone rings, we come to listen. We hope the phone operators help us to resolve this problem quickly.”
Read more messages here.