Placing Hope in the Right Hands: MamaHope

This is the conclusion of our interview with Mamahope.org founder, Nyla Rogers. We hope you will not only read this article but actively support their mission. If donating money is not something you are able to do, please help to spread the word far and wide by sharing this and part one of this interview via e-mail or posting on your social media sites.

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MI:  You have a good approach with your three-pronged objective to Listen, Connect and Enable. Has it been helpful?

NR:  Yes, it has. If you don’t take time to listen to people, you won’t be able to really know what they need. It just becomes wasted aid.  It gives communities ownership of projects when they are invited to the table to make decisions on behalf of their community. Part of our motto, from day one: every project is sustainable. This is built into the plan. Our goal is to help them start the projects, then see that they become self-sufficient. We leave when they are able to carry on with the work themselves.  I call it the “Bruce Wayne/Batman” approach.

MI:  Okay you’ve got me with that one! Why Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman?

NR:  Here in the U.S. we’re very vocal. We’re out there fundraising, making the connections. While we are there in Africa, we are considered to be volunteers for a big organization back in the U.S. They have no idea that MamaHope is three people in an office, two part-time and one full-time. It’s because of how effective we are. They have a relationship with me, they know that we’re the messengers, helping raise awareness for the projects — I don’t think that they get that we are also the people behind the effort. We want to remain intentionally anonymous in that regard. At the end of the day we want them to have ownership of the projects we help to fund. This is the best way to ensure that it happens that way.

MI: You and your core team have pretty impressive credentials. Share with us a little about how each member of your core team contributes to the central vision/mission of MamaHope.

Amy is our operations director. She oversees day-to-day. She’s helping fundraise, but like a superwoman, she wears many hats.

Tom is our Program Director; he is in Africa right now. He is helping to build the institute we plan to develop there. The institute will help to train development workers straight out of college to learn how to fundraise, live in the country, and develop the mentoring components necessary to be effective change-makers. It’s called First Fifth, because 20% of the land mass in the world and 20 % of the population in the world is African;  we’re saying we want to help with this first fifth, and then we will deal with the rest. We want to bring attention and awareness to the fact that there is great potential in Africa; we want to see this flourish.

MI:  In addition to financial support, what other types of assistance is your organization in need of right now and how can people get involved?

NR:  We want people to spread our message. We want the “Stop the Pity” message to be global. We want people who really care about the work we’re doing to contact us. I think of it as a movement. We want to give voice to a very different message. I believe that people are ready to receive it. People are ready to see the world change. These are the people who love, respect and “get” the work that we’re doing.  We transform communities in the way the communities themselves want to be transformed. We invite people who are open to and aware of what that means, to join us. It will take more than just a “one-size-fits all” solution to make this happen.

I would like to see people start their own chapters of this organization, at schools and colleges for example. I envision others creating their own MamaHope communities. Most importantly, I want people to be able to identify and relate to the people in the communities we serve.  We think of these people as our partners, and want others to understand and embrace a partnership as the development arm or their organization.

MI:  The video of Bernard and his friends is a wonderful marketing tool. It’s what first drew my attention to MamaHope. Who is the inspiration behind your videos?

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NR:  Joe Savia and Bryce Yukio Adolpha. Bryce is really the one who made the videos happen. It’s his vision that comes to light in these videos.  I saw a short documentary he did in central America that was beautifully done. Our organization has been criticized as one-sided for showing a positive message of progress. My response to this is that this message is imperative! Not many people are sharing the truth of what has and is going well in a way that is sincere and authentic. The communities have pride about these positive portrayals that depict them in a positive light. There is plenty of the other type out there already –swollen bellies, babies with flies in their eyes — we intentionally reject those images as the sole representation of an entire continent. We want to encourage rejection of the pity meme with our videos. People who visit our partner communities come back saying those people are the “happiest” people who possess little or nothing they have ever seen. Here in the so-called “Developed World” we drift in a sea of consumerism that is supposed to make us happy. These people are showing us what it really takes to help create your own happiness. In all types of marketing I feel this gets lost. Our intention is to bring it back to the forefront and spread it far and wide. I believe this is why our videos are so popular: people can relate to them.

MI:  Nyla, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule and granting us this interview. We look forward to updating our readers on the progress being made in MamaHope communities.  Please follow this link to MamaHope’s 50K in 50 Days campaign.

NR: Thank you and Borderless News and Views for helping us to spread the word that it’s time we stopped the pity and begin to unlock the potential.