The people of Dogon Country never fail to provide a warm and unique welcome for The Tandana Foundation. With an enthusiastic community effort, villagers greet their new friends with rifle displays, drumming, chanting, dancing, skits and speeches—and from the very first "hello," Tandana volunteers feel right at home.
Located near the eastern border of Mali, the Dogon region, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to about 350,000 Dogon people, as well as a large number of Peuls (Fulani) and Bambara. The agriculture of the Dogon people is primarily subsistence farming, with a focus on millet, sorghum, and peanuts. Onions are also grown where water is available and then sold at markets. Despite strong influences from Islam, French colonization, and Christianity, the Dogon people retain many of their traditional ways of life and shared cultural heritage, including crafts such as masks, sculptures, and dyes, done with both indigo and mud techniques, as well as many festivals and ancient dances. The daily life of the Dogon people is one of hard work—walking miles for firewood, drawing water from deep wells by hand and breaking stones from the bedrock for construction projects. Their struggle to meet their needs in this arid land motivates villagers to undertake projects to improve their situation and seems to deepen their joy in celebrating their accomplishments and new friendships.
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