A word from Mocha Club President, Emily Blackledge:
You’ve heard us say it over and over: you can make a difference simply by giving up the cost of a few mochas a month. But we’ll be the first to tell you – there’s no comparison between what you give and what you get.
While your lack of caffeine is temporary, your impact is not. Why? Because Mocha Club is dedicated to making sure your mochas matter long-term. Here’s how:
1. Collaborative Relationships : “We” is our favorite pronoun.
If you have been engaged with an organization or visited some of their work and you only hear “us,” “them,” “theirs,” or “mine,” it is a telling example of a group divided. Without shared values, a common vision and dreams, the work being done belongs to only part of the group. In the long run, these projects and partnerships tend to end poorly. Mocha Club’s strategy is different. Your mochas help provide education for local leaders in the form of a community development course of study — a course co-created by representatives from multiple African countries that takes these leaders through the process of identifying, prioritizing, and addressing community needs. The local community development class in Mvera that proposed the water project we told you about on World Water Day spent months surveying neighbors, friends, family, local businesses, schools, and more to get to a consensus on the greatest need in their area. Not the greatest need for one part of the village or the greatest need to one segment of society or even the greatest need as assessed by Mocha Club – the greatest need for the community as a whole, identified by the community as a whole. A community ceremony was just held to lay the foundation stone for the new water project. Here you see traditional leaders, church leaders, police and the Malawi Defence Force, government officials, and local residents. All turned out to collectively celebrate the beginning of the project. Mvera’s original well was built by missionaries and not owned by the community. This time around, “we” is who owns the project – everyone was involved in naming the need and finding a solution, each household will register to use the water and contribute a monthly fee to pay for upkeep and maintenance, and a local committee will be nominated to oversee the project’s continued success. When Mvera residents are still enjoying clean water decades from now, it’s your mochas that made it so.
2. Meaningful Impact: We know who calls the shots.
And it’s not the group of us sitting in offices here in the United States. One of the reasons Mvera has a water shortage is because it is in a hilly area full of rocks and the water springs dry out during the dry season. The other reason is man made. Mvera is in the Dowa district of Malawi – a district that Leonard, our local Country Director, tells us was “the first district in Malawi created by colonial masters” and means “a place of wild animals.” The well in Mvera was originally dug by missionaries. What was once 36 meters deep and fully functional turned into 7 meters deep and not at all sufficient for the community. Local Malawians didn’t determine its location, they weren’t trained on its upkeep, they weren’t involved at any point of the well’s life cycle. During its research, the community development class in Mvera discovered several potential needs during a social analysis – employment, education, health care. But because they approached the situation from a place of “we,” the community of Mvera determined on its own that the most pressing problem was the water shortage. It makes perfect sense — why would a group of people from a different culture, speaking a different language, be able to determine the best course of action for a community halfway across the world? How would my community know if the next best tool for the Mvera community is a grade school or a water well or a pig farm? Your mochas matter because the people calling the shots are the ones on the ground, the ones that know their communities inside and out.
3. Creative Solutions: We build with what we have.
An accurate understanding of reality is important, but leading with the worst qualities doesn’t really inspire anyone’s participation. We already know that without everyone’s engagement, without “we,” development isn’t sustainable. When strategy is focused on what is working – assets to build on, tools that already exist – you can do things you had no idea could be done. For example, in researching the options for a water solution in Mvera, the local class discovered that they already had much of what they needed – river sand, rocks, quarry stones, manpower, and expertise. They consulted professional builders in the community, engineers, the local electricity supplier, a pipe company, and the local government. Once this project is complete, they’ve already dreamed of building on it and expanding access to more and more people. Building with what you have attracts others (and their talents and resources) to join the dream. Asset-based development makes your mochas matter long into the future.
I am glad to report that the Mvera water project is progressing well. After the laying of the Foundation Stone, people in the community began the work and it has been very successful. Right now the community is mobilizing locally available resources for the construction of the tank (water reservoir). Here are photos showing the laying of the foundation stone and the actual work beginning. – Leonard Chipangano, Malawi Country Director