Following the interview with Yaya Coulibaly, Rising Voices would like to introduce you to Oumar Dembélé, a primary school teacher at Zambougou public school located in the town of Cinzana-Gare in Ségou Region of Mali. Oumar is also a part of the Ségou Villages Connection project one of RV grantees that started in 2011. Being a teacher presents an advantage for Oumar since he is accustomed to communicating with his students and their families. And he is using these communication skills when he communicates with others, in this case, with the villagers. He has been collecting their stories to send them via SMS to the project leader Boukary Konaté, who publishes them on the Ségou Infos blog [fr]. Aside from his job and training in technology, he enjoys playing sports and reading. He also likes to stay busy, and during school vacation he works in the field of agriculture.
In this email interview, Oumar who tweets on @D1Oumar, shares with us his hobbies, his journey with the the project, and about the positive impact as a result of the training.
Rising Voices: Tell us about your journey with the Ségou Villages project. Why did you join? What is your role in the project?
Oumar Dembélé: I joined the team thanks to Mr. Boukary Konaté – @Fasokan during his trip to Cinzana-Gare. He suggested that I join this project consisting of sending information by SMS, then we underwent training on the internet in Dioro. I became interested in the project because I noticed that we don't speak much about what is happening in rural localities. Media often ignores realities of the rural world.
RV: How do you collect the information? Are the people willing to share information?
OD: Making contact with the people does not represent a problem for the moment, since I am an educator, so I know how to approach people.
RV: You are a schoolteacher, to which extent you think that your career is benefiting from the training you received? How do you think you can make your students and colleagues benefit from it?
OD : Evidently, I often ask myself the same question. We take part in good initiatives but we lack means to implement them. I am quite involved despite my resources and I have two other colleagues who are very committed as well. I think that our goals shall be reached with commitment and collaboration of each one of us.
RV: Segou Infos was created because of the lack of contact or communication in Mali, mainly between cities (especially the capital city of Bamako) and the country's rural communities. How do you think this initiative can be improved and developed in order to have a wider reach?
OD:This initiative cannot be improved and developed without the multiplication of efforts to access devices and materials that will help us to publish photos and information on the internet. I say photos because images provide much more detail. The goal of this project is to connect the rural world with current events and to have the same consideration on all levels. If all participants fully carry out their roles, Ségou Infos will have a larger reach.
RV: Can you describe what life is like in the Ségou region?
OD: Ségou is a historical city with big heroes such as Binton Coulibali, N’Golo Diarra, Da Monzon Diarra, etc. It is composed of the Bambara ethnic group, De Bozo, Sarakolé, Peulh and other groups. Agriculture, cattle raising, farming, fishing, and commerce are the activities there, with agriculture being the most prevailing and most important activity.
RV: Anything you would like to add as a last world to Rising Voices readers that are from all over the world?
OD: First of all, I salute Boukary Konaté who suggested this initiative to me. I ask Global Voices readers to come and visit Ségou to learn about many things that are not often talked about. Thanks to all.