Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Western Sahara to the north, Mauritania is a land of spectacular coastlines and vast, hot deserts. It spans one of the great trans-Saharan trade routes, bridging the Arab Maghreb region with western sub-Saharan Africa.
In the Middle Ages, Mauritania was the cradle of the Almoravid Dynasty, which dominated the local trade in gold and salt for more than 500 years while spreading Islam throughout the region. The country’s long history of nomadism and trade cultivated a culturally diverse nation that today includes Arab-Berber, African, and European peoples. Because approximately 90% of Mauritania is located in the Sahara Desert, much of its population is concentrated in southern cities such as Nouakchott, the country’s capital, which is located on the Atlantic coast and is home to around one-third of the country’s 4.3 million people.
You and other members of the Network are demonstrating incredible dedication in creating a brighter future for Mauritania. That’s why we’ve chosen Mauritania as the YALI Network #CountryoftheWeek!
Keep reading for three inspiring stories of YALI Network members who are educating young students, addressing environmental issues, and volunteering their time throughout Mauritania.
Educating Young Students
Since she first discovered and became part of the YALI Network two years ago, Saviya Bouh has been committed to helping high school and university students “choose their specialties” and realize their passions before they enter the workforce. She organizes day-long conferences in Nouakchott to help them do that. Called “Salon de l’Orientation et de l’Insertion Professionnelle,” or SOIP, these conferences bring together a variety of Mauritanian associations and university professors to present and offer insights and advice about a range of topics, such as where and how to study abroad.
The SOIP events have been incredibly successful, and have garnered attention from both local media outlets and the government. Saviya credits her success to teamwork and the YALI Network, which she calls an “inspiration for young Africans.” Saviya adds, “I thank the YALI Network for giving me the opportunity to talk about events that have…positively impacted young people in my community. YALI has inspired me to be an active member of society and to become a leader.”
Addressing Environmental Issues
“I am a member of the YALI Network because I’m passionate about the environment,” says geologist Aminetou Bilal from Nouakchott. An alumna of YALI Session 7 Dakar 2017, Aminetou uses the power of social media—and the YALI Network—to raise awareness about the environment and improve the health of communities across her country.
Aminetou is the president of Selfie Mbalite, a nonprofit that “promotes ecological development in Mauritania.” Through her organization, she began a grassroots initiative, #SelfieMbalite, which raises awareness about the importance of clean, healthy environments by encouraging participants to take selfies in front of garbage and waste dumps. The initiative especially targets local governments and waste management, and has gone viral in Mauritania and beyond, where it’s captured the attention of many people—from rappers to journalists to painters.
YALI Network Online Courses, including courses on Civic Engagement, Climate Change, and Business & Entrepreneurship, have helped Aminetou grow her network while developing her professional skills and successfully managing her nonprofit. And she applies what she’s learned beyond online campaigns: she also organizes clean-up days in local neighborhoods, promoting volunteer engagement, and is an active member of the G5 Sahel Youth Network, a youth group in which young leaders from across Africa address community issues, including security and peace, citizenship, economic opportunities, vocational education, and training.
Looking forward, Aminetou hopes her efforts will encourage Mauritanians to work together to create a country committed to sustainable development and healthier ecologies.
Volunteering throughout Mauritania
Sidi Mamadou Sall from #CountryoftheWeek Mauritania is determined to create positive change in his country. An alumnus of the YALI Dakar Regional Center and active YALI Network member, he has completed ten YALI Network Online Courses to support his volunteer work, which he believes provides critical resources to his community.
To celebrate Mandela Day this past July, Sidi organized a series of #YALIServes events along with other YALI Dakar Regional Center alumni. Together, they distributed hygiene kits, including sanitary napkins and soap, to women in Nouakchott Women’s Prison. The volunteers also held a blood drive and hosted a discussion panel on promoting peace in society.
Sidi also shares his volunteerism work with others by hosting #YALILearns events, during which he “teaches young people about the importance of a healthy environment, social engagement, and entrepreneurship.“ Says Sidi, “Through YALI, we are positively impacting the community.”