Its not just big NGOs that deliver help impoverished communities and change people’s lives for the better – organizations like Mozambique Development in Motion show help can be on a more personal level too.
MDiM is now a small registered non-profit organization but its beginnings are somewhat simpler. When sisters Barbara Williams and Marilyn Hurlbut took a retirement vacation to Africa in 1997 they were inspired to help a local community by teaching English to children in Chicuque, in Mozambique’s Inhambane region. Since then the sisters have returned every year and with the support of their friends, family and church, including people like Mike Doherty from HP’s Enterprise Services Global Sales Support organization, they have been able to expand the level of support they could offer.
Mike first visited the Inhambane region in 2007 and impressed by the sister’s achievements he felt that the scope of work could be developed and given a more structured footing. So using the knowledge and experience gained from his time as board member of home construction charity ‘Habitat for Humanity’ he helped establish MDiM as a non-profit organization. “Many people want to help but don’t know how and don’t know who to talk to,” says Mike. “The sisters along with volunteers they take on their annual trip get involved directly from constructing drainage ditches to teaching business development.”
Today, MDiM has a long list of tangible achievements by ‘starting small’, as Mike says, and it has three main areas of focus: Education, Healthcare and Economic Development. In a country where only 1% of the population have been to University, education is an obvious need. MDiM is currently sponsoring students through secondary schools and their in-country Project Manager and sole employee, Amandio Fabiao, was able to achieve a University degree as a result of funding by the sisters’ friends and families.
Support for Healthcare has been equally direct. Starting in a small way, MDiM have distributed mosquito nets for new mothers and their babies and recently they installed a hot water system in the Chicuque Rural Hospital. “In the past the hospital got its hot water by boiling it over a fire,” says Mike. “Amandio oversaw the installation of the hot water system and is now managing the rewiring of the hospital.” An important factor in the successful delivery of such practical help has been the strong relationship with local people and the understanding built up over time. “We have concentrated on what will make a difference and we work very closely with local people, asking them what they need and what they think will work.”
Examples of support for the economy include interest-free micro loans to individuals like Lazarus, a disabled man who operates his sewing business operates from a small kiosk, to helping a locally owned operation purchase a block-brick making machine, thereby supporting an enterprise and helping to provide much needed building materials.
Going forward Mike is excited by the opportunities for development that HP’s Social Innovation initiative can bring to MDiM’s work in Mozambique. “We’re looking at how e-Health records could be used and we’re interested in how to give students web access through a multi-seat terminal solution. If we can help in a small area and replicate one community at a time, demonstrating the success of small scale projects, who knows where this can go!”