As a non-governmental organization, MAVUNO seeks to improve quality of life in rural areas of Karagwe and Kyerwa districts in Tanzania. They do this by relieving basic needs, providing practical opportunities and creating sustainable alternatives in projects within food security, water and hygiene, education, social welfare and organizational development. To make the work possible, MAVUNO works in close collaboration with local communities and with help from technical skilled volunteers from around the world.
“Our volunteers from abroad come and share their knowledge and experience. When we have students as volunteers, they gain experiences but also share what is on their mind. The volunteers help implement our different projects in the communities, for example teaching young people how to design and fix solar systems, and thereby give them employable skills,” says Charles Bahati, Director of MAVUNO.
Each year, MAVUNO receives several volunteers from different countries and organizations, who live and work together with the rural community as well as MAVUNO staff. Melanie Bumberger first travelled to Tanzania back in 2004 as the first volunteer in MAVUNO. She had just completed her training as a nurse in Germany and wanted to live out her dream of being a volunteer. Since then, Melanie has travelled back to Tanzania once a year to work on projects and visit her friends.
“As a volunteer, I wanted to experience the real village life, stay with a local family, learn the language, try the food and have some cultural exchanges. Unlike many organizations, MAVUNO gave me the opportunity to stay with the family. Staying with them, I became part of the community and I even learned their language, which today makes my work with asylum seekers much easier as it helps break barriers,” says Melanie Bumberger, consultant for asylum seekers at Caritas Germany.
Civil Engineer, Marianne Grauers is a volunteer for MAVUNOs partner organisation Engineers Without Borders Sweden (EBW-SE). Last year, she travelled to Tanzania for nine months to work together with MAVUNO. Here, Marianne used her technical skills on water projects and made surveys on schools and villages’ situation regarding water, electricity, classrooms and sanitation.
“I have always had a dream of working in a NGO. Therefore, when I realized, that there was actually an organisation where I could use my technical knowledge, I immediately joined EWB. For an organisation as MAVUNO, who rely on volunteers, I think it is very important with experienced volunteers. Without the technical skills and experiences, you can easily make mistakes and for example find solutions to a problem that is not really a problem locally. You make a “Swedish solutions” without putting it into context of where you are and the need of the local communities,” says Marianne Grauers.
In MAVUNO, a core value for all projects is, that they are always planned and implemented in collaboration with community members in order to achieve sustainability and long term socioeconomic and ecological improvement.
“In MAVUNO, they always involve the local communities and establish the projects themselves. In my opinion, projects can only succeed when the local people can solve their problems themselves and are educated and involved in all processes of a project. The main idea has to come from themselves, as only they know their needs – then, they can get help and resources. This is where we as volunteers can help and this approach is what I really like about being a volunteer at MAVUNO,” says Melanie.
MAVUNO is part of the multi-partner capacity development project EU Aid Volunteers Initiative, together with partners in Nepal and Sierra Leone, Emergency Architecture & Human Rights and Engineers Without Borders in Denmark (EWB-DK) and Sweden (EWB-SE). The purpose is to enhance quality and capacity of volunteer’s management and hence increase the amount of future development of volunteers.
The role of MAVUNO in the project is to become hosting organization and through hosting of volunteers to build local capacity to continue and improve its work in humanitarian aid.
“By being involved in this project, we hope to grow our organization and projects from small to medium scale and be able to help even more people than we are able to today. As part of the project we also expect to get a wider knowledge and increase our knowledge through the other partners,” says Charles Bahati, Director of MAVUNO.
EWB-DK has worked for establishing access to clean drinking water after the severe flood and mudslide in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone in august 2017