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Ouelessebougou-Utah Alliance

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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.

Ouelessebougou — now that's a fifty-cent word to use on your friends. Point to it on a map and they'll be even more impressed. Ouelessebougou is the name of Utah's Sister Community. Located in Mali, West Africa, it's a region of 72 small villages.

People in Utah have been involved with the people of Ouelessebougou since 1986. That year a group of Utah business and community leaders joined forces to help people in Africa suffering from drought and famine. On the group's first trip to Mali, they visited seven communities, including the mystical city of Timbuktu. In the end though, they chose to direct their efforts towards the villagers of Ouelessebougou.

Since then, the Alliance has worked extremely hard improving the health care, education and business climates in Mali. Recent projects include six new school classrooms, vaccinations for more than 5,000 villagers and new wells for drinking water. The Alliance encourages and helps to develop businesses in the Ouelessebougou area, with the hope that in time, these enterprises will support community improvement projects themselves.

The Ouelessebougou-Utah Alliance receives no public funding. It relies upon businesses and individuals to help fund its projects. Alliance supporters include American Express, Nu Skin's Force for Good Foundation, and Intermountain Health Care's CEO Bill Nelson and Salt Lake Olympic Committee Chairman Robert Garff — who, by the way, Ouelessebougou villagers refer to as "Old Bob."

Hundreds of Utah businesses participate in the Alliance's two major fundraising events: a dinner auction in March, and a community run and AfricaFest in August. This Saturday, people are invited to Sugarhouse Park, where they will have a chance to run in one of the races, learn how to make Malian crafts, including jewelry and mudcloth, and find out more about the Ouelessebougou-Utah Alliance.

For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.

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