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As an English teacher in South Korea, I regularly met interesting and inspiring people from all around the world. One of these inspiring folks was Daniel Myatt, a member of the United States Airforce at the time, who quickly became a friend and brother to us. His approachable manner and love for people made anyone he met feel right at home.

In 2014, while still based in South Korea, Daniel met another visionary named David Masomo, whose own harrowing story of salvation reads like a dramatic work of fiction. The former child soldier and the airman became fast friends; and discovered a shared passion to use their gifts to improve the lives of the desperate and down-trodden.

David is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and this seemed like the most logical place to start. The two decided to focus their efforts in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the poorest and most volatile regions in the world.

Mavuno is Swahili for Harvest

Mavuno was born and the work began in earnest. David headed up the work on the ground; with the invaluable contribution of his Master’s Degree in South Korea, his home language and cultural heritage. Daniel left the airforce to head up this grassroots initiative full time; through marketing, administration and strategic development.

The strategy is simple; listen, discuss and empower.

The role of Mavuno is not to provide aid, but tools. The people discuss and identify their needs, and Mavuno listens. The people make decisions about crops, finance, workload and method – with advice and assistance from agricultural and managerial experts along the way. The people plant, farm and harvest themselves. They sell, store and distribute profits themselves. At the end, they do it all again, only better – improving the lives of the entire community.

Mavuno has achieved fantastic results so far and continues to expand its operations into other villages in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dan and David’s vision has unfolded into a beautiful reality, as the residents of Bunzi can readily testify. One hundred families from Bunzi met Mavuno, aired their concerns, clarified their needs, committed to the work and then received tangible rewards of crops and community development.

The first harvest increased the average income of each family. For some of the community, this meant being able to send another child to school (because the school fees of $7 a year are an impossible price to pay for the poorest of the poor). Even more importantly, the residents have learnt about financial skills, farming methods, environmental sustainability, hygiene and management, which continues to foster sustainable growth where it matters most.

Small and consistent victories are creating big winners in this community, and this is only the beginning for Mavuno.