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Mali is a sub-Saharan country, perhaps best known for the town Timbuktu. Mali has suffered from long-standing drought since the mid-1980s and is among the five poorest countries in the world.
While much of West Africa struggles with tribal conflicts and unstable governments, Mali has always been a safe and friendly place to travel—especially in the south near Ouelessebougou. Volunteers visited seven communities in Mali and decided to set up Alliance headquarters in the town of Ouelessebougou. This is a central location for the many villages we work with (Alliance partner villages are currently in both Mali’s Sikasso and Koulikoro regions).
In the rural area of Ouelessebougou, approximately 60,000 villagers live in mud huts in 72 small villages. When volunteers first visited Ouelessebougou, women in most villages walked several miles daily for water, a journey which was often unsafe. Because drought made it impossible to grow a variety of vegetables, many villagers existed solely on a diet of millet. There was minimal health care and no access to western medicine--many children died from such simple causes as diarrhea, measles, and pneumonia. Ouelessebougou was the place where villagers were interested in a genuine partnership with the Alliance Village Partnership.
Since 1985, the Alliance has worked cooperatively with villagers to address the most basic human needs. Using Maslow’s heirarchy of needs, the Alliance placed immediate attention to drinking water wells and developed a health sector as an urgent priority. In later years, education and economic development sectors were added.
Our village partners in Mali feel strongly about giving something back to those who support their development projects. They are thrilled with education curriculum and community events that help others to learn and appreciate Malian traditions and culture.