Nine Villages is a non-profit 501(c)3) organization currently working to encourage and enable sustainable health and education for families in rural Mali. Nine Villages was created by a native Malian and an American with the goals of working closely with small communities to select sustainable projects for which there is an expressed need. A small organization, Nine Villages relies on volunteers to make sure all funds raised are spent directly on the village projects, with no overhead.
What are the Nine Villages?
The organization is named after a group of nine interacting communities in north-east Mali. Each of the villages is small, 300 to 1,000 people, and within walking distance of the others, and the villagers subsist largely on crops and livestock they grow for themselves. Most of the families in these villages live on an annual cash income of far less than $800, the average annual per capita i ncome in Mali. This income level and the reliance on locally-grown crops means that the people in this area experience a "period of hunger" for several months each year, while food stores deplete before new crops are harvested. Healthcare is minimal, limited by distance to hospitals and with one doctor shared among the villages. Educational opportunities are also low; there are only a few primary schools in the area. The people of the Nine Villages have formed communal associations in order to provide the best for themselves, and the Nine Villages organization is working with these established groups to assist these communities.
What are the needs of the Villages?
From our initial visits to the area, the founders of the Nine Villages organization believe that there are many opportunities to serve the health and education needs of the villages. Some villages have poorly operating wells or diseased water. Many express a desire for small loans to help them market local crops when harvested, as well as create stores of rice for consumption during the time of hunger. Machines for grinding wheat and donkey carts to transport children to school are also desired. Nine Villages would like to work with the people of this area to create sustainable solutions to these problems.
The mission of Nine Villages is exclusively to encourage and enable sustainable health and education of families and communities of below average income and wealth for their country and the world. The method of development will focus on providing technical assistance, education, and capital resources for agricultural, nutritional, medical, public health, and educational development. Initially, Nine Villages will work in rural Mali.
Nine Villages' development efforts will emphasize respect for the choices, desires, and culture of the communities, as well as the mutual effort of Nine Villages and the families and communities in the initiation and execution of specific projects.
Nine Villages is committed to being an all volunteer and a zero overhead cost organization. The bylaws of the organization state that Nine Villages will have no employees and will not pay anyone for their expenses of working for the organization. Therefore, all funds raised by Nine Villages will be spent on direct program deliverables.
The current Board Members of Nine Villages are: Dean Drenk of Bozeman, Montana; Sidy Ba of Bamako, Mali; and Jessica Drenk of Tucson, Arizona
Sendgue Rice and Millet Storage:
One of the main sources of sustenance and some income for the villages is the farming of dry-land rice and millet, crops which are harvested only once a year. All of the villages experience a "period of hunger" (often for up to three months annually) before this harvest time. This changes when crops are harvested, but some farmers sell large portions of their crops in order to pay back loans-loans taken out during the period of hunger to buy themselves food. Food purchased during the hunger period costs up to twice as much as the costs following harvest, so farmers are forced to sell off most of their crop at low prices. The Sendegue Rice and Millet Storage Projects are currently being developed with two women’s associations in the village of Sendegue. The intent is to purchase rice and millet in the fall, when it is less expensive, and store it for distribution at low prices during the next year’s hunger period.
Derra Rice and Millet Grinder:
Once harvested, the women of the villages face the task of husking and winnowing rice and grinding millet into flour. This is normally done by hand, using a very large wooden mortar and pestle, a process of several hours each day for each family’s meals. The Derra Rice and Millet Grinder Project provided a deisel-powered grinder to the women’s association of Derra for communal use.
How You Can Help
The organization is also looking for volunteers interested in developing Nine Villages, and researching and implementing projects.
To donate time or money, please contact us at:
e-mail: E-mail Dean Drenk
USPS mailing address:
221 Westridge Drive
Bozeman, MT 59715
Nine Villages is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, registered with the IRS and the State of Montana. Donations may be tax-deductible, please check with your Federal and State tax advisor.
Nine Villages Operating Policies
History and Theory of Non-Profit Development
Past and Future Projects
Nutrition and Agriculture:
- irrigation pumps, fencing for association's gardens
- fishing co-op transportation and marketing
- provide fishing equipment (now leased at a high price)
- cooperative marketing of produce and crops
- village clinics and medicine stores
- transportation system for emergency medical and birthing
- nurse or medical aide training
- development of communications system for the doctor
- clean water projects, including wells and purification systems
- carts and donkeys to transport children to school
- library development
- scholarships for children or teens to attend school in nearby cities (only primary school in the area)