Lilian James Mtui is the Office Manager at AVC’s office in Moshi. She volunteered with AVC in 2013 at Comfort Women’s Center as a teacher and social worker after graduating from Moshi University of Cooperatives and Business Studies with a Bachelor of Arts in Community Economic Development.
AVC’s work is valuable because it empowers local graduates to put the theories they learned during their studies into practice by volunteering with local social good organizations. As a Volunteer working with women and children, I was able to build my skills in project management, organization operations, and group facilitation. I was also able to learn from entirely new experiences in fields I had never been able to participate in before, such as early childhood education and microfinance, specifically with women.
As a Volunteer at Comfort Women’s Center (CWC) I was able to make a real difference. I reinstituted a Women’s Entrepreneurship Program to sell chickens. Before I started at CWC, the chicken project had failed to operate due to lack of management and resources, but I wanted restart it in order to generate some income for the organization. I started by talking to the Director about it and we discussed the reasons for the project’s failure and made a new plan.
Initially, we made a small business selling food products like banana chips, baobab seeds, popcorn, and ground nuts. A few other women and I made and packaged these products while a teacher sold them to a supermarket and to individuals. After only a few months, we generated enough income to buy some chickens. And a few months after that the chickens began laying eggs, which we sold at a profit.
Aside from the chicken project, I dedicated time to getting donations for the organization. I successfully collected shoes and exercise books for our students at CWC from the Red Cross Association.
I have been inspired a lot by AVC since it is a unique organization that strengthens local development initiatives. With AVC I have come across many different development projects established and operated by local people with positive impacts. Kilimanjaro Vicoba Network has really impressed me as an organization. They are a microfinance organization that also focuses on capacity building by teaching people how to start and operate Vicoba groups through community-based education. I believe this is really important because it empowers people to decide and invest in their own development using their own resources.
I am a member of Vicoba Youth Group, a microfinance organization for youth, where we can save and borrow money to run our own projects. As an individual, I am able to build my credit, borrow money, and then pay it back at zero interest. By working with AVC, I have realized that grassroots development plays a vital role in bringing social change and solving problems. It can easily be strengthened by local people who are passionate and committed. Volunteering is a great way to achieve this. Africans should encourage the spirit of Volunteering. People should volunteer to help communities in need, get exposure on local issues, learn new things, and practice their skills.
Grassroots development is important because it encourages the participation and empowerment of local people. It also involves local people in matters that affect their lives, like discussions of local problems, decision-making processes, and proposing solutions to their own local problems. Most of the directors of the grassroots organizations we work with say that AVC volunteers play a big role within their projects because they help with implementation of their projects by utilizing their professional skills.
I appreciate that AVC is doing this excellent work to support volunteers, social good organizations, and the community at large. This is a great effort to support African development.