Tuondoke Utegemezi

When I was in America, many of you asked me what exactly we are doing here. A good question, since in these updates I normally talk about different aspects of the work, and it can be hard to see how they fit together. To clear things up

  • We want to help each Methodist church in the Mwanza, Mara, and Geita regions (22 in all) to have a savings and loan group.
  • We want to help each of these churches work through a process called CCMP which will teach them to start, fund, and manage projects that will meet their communities’ needs.
  • We want to start a brick machine project that will make bricks for the new meeting houses, as many of these churches do not have a meeting house yet.

On April 3-6th, we did entrepreneurship training for 10 church members in Mwanza. One savings and loan group can now make loans, so we thought this would be a good time to train them on starting or improving their businesses.

If a few can start or expand their businesses, this will help all of them to leave behind their dependency mindset. This is what CCMP is all about – taking folks from focusing on what they don’t have and waiting on resources from the outside, to seeing what they do have, and learning to do their own projects. (Title: “We should leave dependency”)

We’re hope for a day when these folks take the initiative to organize themselves and then plan and fund a project to improve their lives and reach out to the community – a project that we could feel comfortable putting money into as well. A clinic? Farm-training center? English tuition center? It would be up to them.

We can’t do this now though, since it’s clear that the leaders expect us to fully fund and manage the projects. Many other missionaries have set this precedent, and the leaders have come to see themselves as unable to do this.

It upsets me to see such smart, hard-working, dedicated church leaders crippled by this mindset, and I wonder if it dates back further, to a time when colonial powers arrived who didn’t want Tanzanian leaders to trust their own abilities, and told them that they needed foreign powers to provide for them. I’m no scholar of African history, but Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai makes a strong case for this in The Challenge for Africa.

Regardless of the source, it will be tough for these folks to change their minds. Recall a time when you had a major mindset shift. After it’s over, the truth seems so obvious.”How could I have ever missed this? What was wrong with me?”, we say to ourselves. Before the shift though, changing our mind seems inconceivable. It’s the same here. From the outside, we think, “C’mon folks! You’re smart, you work hard, you value community, what could be more obvious than the fact that you are able to do these projects yourselves and don’t have to wait on outside assistance?” It doesn’t look that way from the inside though. Changing their minds will mean a hard choice to leave behind the worldview they have been comfortable with for so many years and step into the mists of the unknown, not yet knowing whether things will be any better. We hope we can walk alongside them on this journey.

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Sample business plan that one leader wrote, meant to explain the difference between the economy and the entrepreneur.

 

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