Collaboration Over Competition
Tanzania — Student VolunteeringUniterra
The second day at the Marwa village consisted of my organisation going into further detail about how farmers and groups can join MVIWATA and what they can get out of this collaboration.
This time, the meeting was held in a church to avoid the sand getting into our eyes when the wind blew.
Again, the village members who did show up were mostly women. However, there was no obvious division this time, the women of both groups sat beside one another. This may have happened naturally due to a confined space.
My director introduced MVIWATA’s procedure on how the farmers and groups should democratically elect their leaders to represent them at MVIWATA. We established at this meeting that there are 13 small holder farmers groups (the ones who showed up to the meeting) in Marwa. Of these groups, each much elect an Executive Chairman, a Vice Chairman, and a Secretary to represent their group at MVIWATA. The great thing about my organisation is they encourage democracy and participation. Even if a group chooses not to sign up, but, the individual wants to sign up as a member of MVIWATA, they are allowed to do so. Any and all members are welcomed to go to any trainings/conferences.
What I took away most about this meeting were the women who ask questions. They asked questions on how they can sign up and what were to happen if they wanted to sign up but her entire group did not choose to. Of the few men who were present at both meetings, they were more concerned about the way MVIWATA can benefit them economically. Women were concerned about having a structured democratic election for choosing their representatives and how they can get involved with MVIWATA.
Keep in mind, these women are the caretakers of the farms. Men move the cattle and own the land. The labour of women produces most of the economic profits, yet, their concerns are with the way they can justly choose their representatives. They want their ideas, thoughts, and concerns heard first, before knowing how much money can be generated and they want to learn new techniques on the way they can take care of the crops. The curiosity of these women inspires me and gives me hope in knowing that there are humans who care for their social gains first before worrying about their economic risks.
Many societies around the world care for economic growth first before the social well-being of its inhabitants. What we can take away from these women is money will not make you happy. It is being treated as a part of society and having the opportunity to be involved in decision-making processes.
What the women of the Marwa village want is voice first and economic activities later.