AusCongo Network could not do the work we do without the support from Jean Calvin – our man on the ground in Mbuji-Mayi. Jean Calvin works as ACN’s National Director, meaning he is responsible for making sure your donations are put to good use in Mbuji-Mayi. From organising staff in Mbuji-Mayi to training the locals in the villages, Jean Calvin is responsible for the daily workings of ACN. He took some time out of his busy schedule to tell us about his experience as National Director and life in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
ACN: Can you tell us about your average day?
Jean Calvin: As National Director, my daily duties change from day to day. Each Monday I meet up with the office team to plan the activities and duties for the upcoming week and report on the previous week. Following this, each person is assigned to oversee a group of people within the village to better assist them when needed.
Throughout the week, I complete a variety of tasks, including: meetings with organisations and public service officials to discuss what the community needs; office clerk duties; contacting Costa – the ACN President – to report on how we are progressing here in the DRC; working with teachers; visiting each group to report on their progress and what further assistance they need from CAN; and offer training for locals and communities who wish to develop it further in business and development. As you can probably understand, it is a busy job being National director.
Wow! You certainly cannot sleep on the job. How did you first get involved with AusCongo Network?
I have always had a strong interest in community development ever since I was young. In fact, this interest motivated me to complete my bachelor’s degree in Community Development, and I was lucky enough to have worked with big development organisations such as USAid and Karitas Foundation. Following a few years of working with these organisations, I was offered the opportunity to use my skills and knowledge to help my local community here in Mbuji-Mayi and I simply couldn’t let that opportunity slip. I’m glad I didn’t because it is so rewarding working for ACN and seeing how their donations really help people in local communities.
It’s fascinating to hear about how your personal history and beliefs motivated you to work for us at AusCongo. It’s an honor to have you as such a vital member of our team. Is there any aspects of the job do you enjoy the most?
That’s an easy question to answer! I enjoy gathering all the different people, listening to their concerns and needs, and then orientating them to their solution. It’s fulfilling to work collaboratively to resolve a problem within the community.
We agree! Is there any aspects of the job that you find most difficult?
Ahhhh. The biggest challenge for me has been the heavy reliance on modern technology. Here in Mbuji-Mayi and the rest of the DRC, access to good technology and high-speed internet is limited. Every morning I must wake up early and travel to the local internet café to communicate back with the team in Australia. As you can imagine, the internet connection is not always reliable and I have had to teach myself a lot.
That is a great challenge. Is there anything which inspires you to do the work you do?
Yes. The information that the ACN team in Australia send me often inspires me a lot. The update on donations and seeing that Australian people want to help people they’ve never met before is amazing. The generosity and support “warms my heart.”
What do you hope will be achieved in DRC with ACN?
I dream of replicating ACN in different towns. I dream of the Congolese community believing in themselves and participating in self-development. I want to grow myself, to enhance my capacity of work and I hope that can be continued through the support of ACN.
If there was one thing you could tell the world about DRC what would it be?
The people of DRC want peace and stability. As life without peace is not a fulfilled life. Without peace I cannot talk so freely like I am talking to you now. However, with peace we can collaborate, share ideas, transform our environment, and make it better for the present and the future.
Jean Calvin, thank you for all your hard work. Without your support we don’t know if we could have achieved all the great work we have accomplished so far.
Thank you for everything you do – thank you to the PR teams for everything that you do as your work helps us to share our message and vision.
Thank you Jean Calvin.
Before you go, I have a question for you. What do you think about ACN in Mbuji-Mayi?
Good question. We think that Mbuji-Mayi has taught us a lot about what we can achieve when we work together. In addition, we think ACN has had great power to mobilise information exchange from the DRC and Australia and vice-versa. We think both communities can learn a lot from each other and we hope to further foster growth and development.