In early 1986, Bishop Dr. Owdenberg Mdegella of ELCT invited Global Volunteers to bring volunteers to assist villagers in Pommern, Tanzania – the center of his Church’s development efforts. Since his retirement, Bishop Emeritus Mdegella remains a close friend and partner of Global Volunteers in rural Tanzania. His vision and support enabled us to launch the Reaching Children’s Potential (RCP) Demonstration Program in Ukwega Ward in 2016. Collaboration, the bedrock of Global Volunteers service worldwide, is the cornerstone of that program. Read the Bishop’s own words in interviews in the early 80’s and today.
Bishop Mdegella of Tanzania Reflects on Global Volunteers Partnership
A lot has been done in Tanzania through Global Volunteers.
The Iringa District is a long-standing host of Global Volunteers, and I am glad to be part of the 35 years of genuine development assistance. When I reflect on one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), education, I cannot believe today how many have students grown through Global Volunteers’ help. Education is the key. If you want to get out of poverty, you must get an education.
Out of our relationship, we have taught primary, secondary and university-bound students. Some of these students are now working in government because there is a rippling effect. They have learned about the world through volunteering Americans who came to teach our children through Global Volunteers. They have learned that Americans are not members of the CIA. These are wrong prejudices. The volunteers have taught us who the true, kind-hearted Americans are who want to help us improve our lives. And they continue to help us.
“If you want to get out of poverty, you must get an education.”Bishop Emeritus Owdenberg Mdegella
Yes, it is good for Americans to know the world and for people of the world to know Americans in this way.
Global Volunteers works with the vulnerable and people at risk helping them to determine their future and their present. When volunteers first came, over three decades ago, they spent a time – and little by little, you feel and it is fitting.
For instance, Global Volunteers once sent people to plant trees and work at health centers. It caught the attention of local leaders who decided they must bring capacity up to enable change. The Ipalamwa road that used to take 12 hours to transport has been improved by the local government and now takes just two hours — this is the catalyst effect of Global Volunteers. A catalyst effect can never be measured what we can achieve together. But it takes people working together to make the ripples of change.
The Ripple Effect of Sustained Development Partnerships
Fast forward 30 years, and now you see the ripple effect making even bigger waves in the rural villages of the Ukwega Ward, where we’ve established the RCP Program. Close to 600 families have joined the RCP program to date. Parents are being educated on the importance of good nutrition, pre- and post-natal care, parenting skills, sustainable food production, and protection from infectious disease. One volunteer sitting with 50 women; one volunteer sitting with a community and a local person around; one volunteer for 10 days – that brings a lot of change. You throw the stone at the middle of the well, and it replicates around the society. That’s the ripple effect!
RCP families have access to health care at the Ipalamwa General Health Clinic and supplemental and bio-fortified foods through our partnership with Rise Against Hunger. Local people have taken on leadership roles as caregivers and health professionals. They are introduced to new technologies like container gardening, hand-washing stations, and more.
“One volunteer sitting with 50 women; one volunteer sitting with a community and a local person around; one volunteer for 10 days – that brings a lot of change. You throw the stone at the middle of the well, and it replicates around the society. That’s the ripple effect!“Bishop Emeritus Owdenberg Mdegella
One of the major health crisis affecting children in rural Tanzania is stunting. The RCP Program is addressing that problem directly, because we know it’s at the core of the cause of poverty. Stunted children can’t grow and learn, and ignorant children become ignorant adults. That’s how our entire society becomes stunted. We have recently reported on the significant impact all of these interventions have made on babies’ health and growth and development. Early indicators are that stunting has been significantly reduced in Ipalamwa, where the early measurements were taken.
Thanks to this landmark work, we know our partnership is having a long-term impact. Beginning in 1986, our work together – our catalyzing work – will create lasting change. It is in this progress I take my satisfaction and pride.
More on the development of the Reaching Children’s Potential Program: