Our new and improved communications team!

AusCongo is excited to welcome Aaron and Tash to the communications team!

Aaron is currently studying Business at QUT majoring in Advertising with a minor in Film. This is his last year at QUT and he is very much looking forward to graduating.

Aaron is originally from the Sunshine Coast. He grew up on a farm in the Mary Valley and moved to Brisbane for university. Since then, he has been working in retail and hospitality industry. In his spare time, he enjoys getting back to nature, visiting beaches and national parks. He says “studying film means that I’m also very keen on TV and movies, my ideal down time is sitting back with some good food and a great movie, preferably of the Sci-Fi or fantasy genre”. He joined ACN because it was an awesome opportunity for him to help others and make a positive difference, while gaining some valuable experience. He is looking forward to work with the team and learn all that he can in his journey with ACN.

Tash is currently in her final semester of university at QUT. She is studying Public Relations and Marketing. Aside from university, she works as a Dance Teacher at Danzart Studio and casually at Chris’ IGA Carina as a register operator. As a dance teacher, she loves and enjoys educating children. She is an avid reader and passionate about living a healthy and an active lifestyle.

Tash wants to use her existing PR knowledge, skills and experience to support ACN’s PR activities and wants to continue developing her PR expertise. Throughout high school and university, she has been constantly volunteered at multiple charities. She loves positively using her knowledge to benefit those less fortunate than her.

We’re looking forward to seeing

Our New Partnership

Costa reflects on our journey to partnering with Rotary:

As part of developing our organisation’s sustainability, ACN works closely with other incredible organisations. Recently, I have formed a partnership with Rotary. When I discovered that Rotary shares a lot of the same values as ACN and has a large global network with great capacity for fundraising, I started attending weekly meetings every Thursday since July 2016. In mid-October, I was recognised as a member.

I am very impressed by what, how and why they do all the things they do and I’m excited to announce that ACN is working on developing a stronger relationship with Rotary. They really love humanity – a trait that I really value in an organisation. They have accepted me, not on face value, but by listening to what I have to say and understanding what drives me.

As time went on, they asked me to present my story and that of ACN, which I did on February 11, 2017 and they have since asked us to present a project proposal they can support. Whichever project we decide on should become a partnership project between Rotary Club Mbuji-Mayi and ACN Mbuji-Mayi. I have now started working with Jean Calvin to contact Rotary in Congo to begin making progress, and our Project’s Director, Cassandra, will be assisting with project development.

We have a lot to learn from the Rotary Club, and I’m looking forward to see where this new relationship takes us. There is potential to work with Rotary and partner with other amazing organisations and I believe that if we all work together, the future is very bright.

Jean Calvin

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.

Capacity Building 2016

This year, we were able to run a capacity building project with our Mbuji-Mayi community

The capacity building project incorporated improvements to the AusCongo Community Centre in Mbuji-Mayi. Improvements to the facilities including the purchase and installation of a generator, new laptop and an Internet connection were made. Unfortunately, due to a lack of on-going funding, we were unable to retain the Internet connection long term. We are hopeful however, that we will be able to run projects soon that will help the local community become self-sufficient enough that the Community Centre will be able to support itself and the staff without us sending money each month. Stay tuned for updates!

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This project also included monitoring of our micro-finance program which is still running successfully, with loans of up to $100 being repaid regularly. We are very proud of our micro-finance program and what we have been able to help the local community achieve. We are continuing to run programs in the community centre that educate community members on how to become more self-sufficient.

We are also happy to report that our programs are helping children through school, with their parents now able to afford school fees through various ACN projects.

Would you like to help AusCongo Network? We’re always looking for new volunteers to help the Network produce valuable projects. If you’re interested, please email media@auscongo.org.