Agriculture Project 2016

AusCongo team in field

2016 has been a busy year for the AusCongo Network. We took the time to reflect on our achievements in October at our AGM. We are particularly proud of the community development projects we managed to run over the last 12 months.

We successfully ran an agriculture project where we were able to get the community working on the 14 hectares of land we recently purchased thanks to a grant from the Entrust foundation. On this land, the community were able to plant 3 hectares of cowpea fields and a further 3 hectares of Cassava. While the harvest of the Cowpea crop was not as successful as we had hoped, it will have enriched the soil with nitrogen, which will be beneficial to future crops. The Cassava will be harvested in November and sold.

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Not only were we able to produce crops, but also successfully reduced unemployment in the area by employing labourers to work the land. Over 450 people participated in this agriculture project. The project paid salaries to labourers who were then able to support their families, pay for education, clothes and food for their children and dependents.

Finally, this project was able to help 35 children – 20 male and 15 female – complete their secondary education. By working on the land after school the students were able to earn the money they needed to pay for school.

 

Community Development and AusCongo

AusCongo Network is founded on the principles of Community Development. Our founder, Costa, strongly believes the proverb, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.

Motivated by this proverb, Costa and the AusCongo team, follow a community development model when starting and completing any project. We prefer not to presume what Mbuji-Mayi community needs, but have our team there investigate for us. This team, lead by Jean Calvin, interact with the community members and research what the community needs and what the potential cost may involve. This research is then sent to us in Brisbane, Australia, where our Projects Team develops a proposal and seeks funding – often through our partner organisation, WRA.

When our proposal is approved, the funding is sent straight to Jean Calvin who manages the budget and reports back to us with continual progress and an evaluation of the final project.

Keep your eyes peeled for more projects information coming soon!

Beatrice – A Success Story

My name is Beatrice Kayimbi. I started my business on 13 January, 2010. I was selling shoes. I could not organise my work; I did not know how to control expenses and would spent all of my capital. I was unable to evaluate the performance of the business. Due to this, I fell into bankruptcy several times. I did not know what to do. A member of my family informed me about ACN, a community development centre that fights against the poverty of its members. This caught my attention and impressed my imagination.

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On 13 December, 2011, I joined the AusCongo Network. I joined the centre as a member of the group for small business owners. When I first went to the ACN centre they asked me what my business activity and classified me into the small business group based on my response. ACN therefore does not impose the activity on anyone but they support you to succeed and follow up with your progress.Today, more than ever, my work is organised: I do not spend the capital and ensure I am always turning a profit. Before I had a single activity, today I have three. Through ACN I learnt to diversify my business activities. I now also sell eggs and other items. I have developed the skills to be able to evaluate the performance of my work and how to sustain my business.

I am so excited; I have no words to express my joy. I thank ACN for helping me to so that I can take control of my life; my heart is drunk with joy at this time. I lack the words to thank the team of the ACN for helping me take care of myself. Now I understand the proverb “give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime”.

 

If you would like to help us help more people like Beatrice, please donate now!

Community Development Workshop

On March 5th, 10 of ACN’s volunteers participated in a Community Development workshop lead by our very own Dr Emma Campbell. The aim of the workshop was to promote discussion and learning amongst our members and ensure that we all had a good understanding of what the foundation of our organisation, “community development”, really meant.

We participated in some team building exercises, working on acknowledging each others skills and recognising how each of us was able to contribute to the organisation in a substantial way.

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Community development is based on the foundation of working closely with the community, not for them. Rather than developing programs and projects based on what we perceive to be the communities need, we ask them the changes they’d like to see. As such, we ensure that our projects are helping the community in the way that they need.

Community development also places an emphasis on utilising existing assets. To maximise benefit while minimising costs, we don’t just send over whatever materials we think would make things easier. We look at what the community already has that could help with the project. By looking at the community’s existing assets, we can begin connecting them in ways that multiply their power and effectiveness.

Overall, this training session taught us a great deal about how we will run this organisation and showed that asking questions is key to not only project development, but the success of our organisation.

For each of our projects we will Plan, Do, Observe and Reflect upon our process.

If you like the sound of what we are doing and would like to contribute, you can donate here or volunteer with us.