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The Netherlands already has a long relationship with Mali, which started when architect-archaeologist Herman Haan brought the Tellem Expedition for the NCRV into the Dutch living room in 1955. In his footsteps, many architects and artists followed this fascinating area with its rich culture. Similarly architect Joop van Stigt, who made his first trip in 1972. It became the beginning of a long series of trips; first to absorb the culture but soon to think about the water facilities and the preservation of the culture.

The first wells and dams were constructed in 1981. Soon more was needed to really make a difference. And so in 1995 – with the construction of the first school – the establishment of SDO (Dogon Education Foundation) started by Joop and Gonny van Stigt.

In 2007, DVI (Dogon Women’s Initiative) was founded by Jacqti de Leeuw. She focused on empowerment of women. Women groups work together on health, literacy, agriculture and increasing their income.

The Bloemendaal-Dogon Foundation also started in 2007. Aagje Nicolaas, a good friend of Joop, had been impressed by the people in Pays-Dogon and the special country. Together with an enthusiastic board, a great deal of information was given and money was generated for projects carried out under the leadership of Joop van Stigt in collaboration with the local population in Pays-Dogon: building schools, wells and restoring the main pillars.

In 2011 SDO and DVI provided for the establishment of ADI (Association Dogon Initiative). This local Malian organization ensures that all programs are now being implemented and are now also being initiated. In this way we build regional development in the widest possible way, in an equal partnership.