I assisted and coordinated several educational, healthcare and disaster relief projects across Africa, Middle East and Asia. I have become witness first handed of the hardship and challenges of displaced people and I vowed to make a difference.
When disaster strikes, the whole world shivers through the images that reach us. The emergency response has become more effective and we are swift in distributing tents. But the needs of the affected people remain long after relief organizations have left. On average, displaced people are stuck in informal settlements and camps for almost 12 years. I pitched the idea to DMOA Engineers & Architects about a double-layer system which we could fill up with local available materials. That would allow us to provide schools, training centers, medical treatment, recovery wards and temperature controlled storage for food and medication to conflict zones, remote areas and harsh climates. I was joined in my quest by the civil engineers Benjamin and Matthias from DMOA and this became the start of our maggie project.
Another challenge I wanted to brace is to get displaced people back on their feet and give them opportunities so they can have a new future. And the best way to achieve this is to give them knowledge and market valuable skills. The maggie is specifically designed to bring schools and training centres to displaced people where it’s not possible, desired or practical. Only half of the displaced children attend primary school. Only 25 percent in secondary school. And there is hardly anything for youth or adults. That’s where the maggie-program will work with other partners to address this and where the maggie is the missing piece in a broader approach.
Today, the maggie-program is an inspiring group of professionals that provide expertise and capacity on an ad-hoc basis. Why we are doing this? Because we know we can make a critical difference for the +- 18 million displaced people that are largely forgotten.
Head of the Maggie Program
Why DMOA got engaged?
Benjamin Denef & Matthias Mattelaer
DMOA is a Belgian Architect and Engineering company, specialised in distinguished housing and constructions, combining the use of innovative materials with traditional craftsmanship.
Our quest for innovation is in line with DMOA strengths and day-to-day business, combining various disciplines into a thoughtful, efficient and durable construction.
The Maggie program is also close to our hearts. We are fathers too, and we feel strongly that we have a duty to transmit our knowledge and expertise to those organisations that are dedicated to the most unfortunate.
The development was quite a challenge. The technical people will certainly understand the various engineering challanges we had to endure in order to create this first prototype. Most of our choices for the materials are made upon experience, industry best practice and simulations. The prototype will allow us to test many ideas and elements used in building the maggie – so we can successfully complete the proof-of-concept stage and start to make a difference in the lives of many displaced families around the world.
Owners of DMOA Architects & Engineers
I was delighted when they asked me to take on the design of the maggie. I was following social profit engineering initiatives for years and was keen to engage my knowlage and skills as a Civil Engineer to a cause that has a social impact.
I become emotionally attached to the maggie through my many sketches, 2D, 3D models, research and simulations. We did many trials. Our biggest challenge was the optimisation of the shelter – using the least possible materials without neglecting the overall strength, simplicity and comfort of the shelter.
During the development, a small human being started growing in my belly. My child will have the privileges of the western world but I know that the passion I put into this project will make a difference for kids that were less fortunate.
Technical Lead, The Maggie