Makuyuni e.V. Cologne - Right to education for everyone
Education for everyone - School construction in Tanzania
The non-profit association "Makuyuni e.V." was founded in Cologne in 2018 to advocate for the right to education. For Makuyuni e.V., the common goal "Education for all!" means giving people an opportunity and access to education. It all started in Makuyuni, a small town in Tanzania, which is why the organization bears this name.
Since 2018, Makuyuni e.V. has been building schools in Tanzania together with local Maasaicommunities. By now over 600 children can go to school thanks to their commitment. This year, the construction of the fourth school will start in order to give even more pupils access to education.
We talked to Jan Grandisch (founding member and first chairman) about his association Makuyuni e.V.
What was the impulse to found Makuyuni e.V.? Do you have a personal connection to Tanzania?
I travelled to Makuyuni, Tanzania in 2017 and worked there for a month in the Maasai project "Volunteermaasai" and taught at a primary school in Makuyuni. Not only did I get an insight into the work of the small local NGO, but I was also able to get to know the Maasai culture around Makuyuni.
Above all, I got to know the Maasai Lalahe there. He and his project grew very close to my heart during this time and a close friendship developed between Lalahe and me that continues to this day. In addition to Lalahe, who founded his organisation in 2009 and started building a primary school in Makuyuni, I also met Lalahe's best friend Lazaro, who was also involved in the lessons as a teacher.
Back in Germany, I told my friends about my trip and was able to infect my best friend Andy with my euphoria. Together we thought about how we could continue to support the project from Cologne. Andy then flew to Makuyuni himself to get an impression on site. He came back just as euphoric as I was, so we quickly founded our non-profit association Makuyuni e.V. with a few mutual friends.
You work according to the principle of "helping people to help themselves". What measures do you take to support the local people?
A good example is our second school in the Nadosoitok community in Selela. We started to support the community in building their own school in 2021. The existing classroom, built by the community using only mud and sticks, gave us an idea of how motivated the local people were already to give the children a chance at education. We then used our financial means to build the first building block . Realising that it is possible to build their own proper school, the community felt so encouraged that they were able to construct another building as well as water supply from their own funds and from government money. This is a prime example of how we can initiate things from Cologne and thus motivate the local people to become active themselves.
Are you also involved in the schools after the opening?
No, our goal is always that people identify with the schools and see them as their project. As soon as the schools are officially registered, we withdraw as far as possible and leave the projects to the communities. We do not want to and cannot bear the running costs. This makes the registration of the schools even more important, so that, for example, the employment and payment of the teachers can be paid from government funds.
Meanwhile, our friends Lalahe and Lazaro receive a monthly salary from us to honour their work. We pay these salaries from our membership fees. Through close exchange with the communities, they coordinate and carry out the projects on site. We support them from Cologne and assist them with ideas and funds. They know the local people much better than we do and therefore know exactly what is needed and where.
What does work in the association look like? How do you decide which projects will be next?
In monthly network meetings, to which everyone is invited, we talk about our current projects and how we can support them. Creativity is needed to develop and implement good ideas and thus to acquire funds.
For example, we now have a new, limited Makuyuni Collection every year. We design and produce these in our office. From the initial idea to the finished product, sustainable clothes are created for a good cause.
In addition, we now have a good network of other organisations that support us time and again. First and foremost, the Bücherbörse Köln e.V. and the KG Ponyhof e.V. should be mentioned here. We are currently in the midst of preparations for this year's book fair, so come and visit us on 19 and 20 August 2023 at the TH in Cologne, Claudiusstraße 1. A diverse programme awaits you and you can buy books or records for little money. The proceeds of the entire book fair will go to our association again this year.
Are you also in Tanzania to see the progress? How do you feel knowing that you have already helped so many people to get an education?
Andy and I usually go to Makuyuni once a year, usually in spring, to visit our friends Lalahe and Lazaro and the schools and communities. This year, we went there unannounced and were able to get an incredibly beautiful and authentic impression of everyday school life. For five years now, we have been putting energy, heart and soul into the projects. All this takes time, but in the meantime there are not only three schools built by us, but more than 600 children attending the different classes. For me personally, feeling the energy and joy of the children was one of the most beautiful moments of our trip.
You decided to cover all administrative and advertising costs for the association yourselves, how did that come about?
Exactly, we wanted to do things differently than many other associations and therefore it was clear to us from the beginning that we did not want to earn any money with our work for the association. We wanted to ensure that 100% of all donations reach Tanzania.
This only works because we decided to bear all the costs for the association ourselves and not to pay them out of donations. This includes account management fees, costs for website and domain, notary and tax consultancy fees, costs for material such as shirts, flyers, stickers, posters or similar. We bear these costs entirely from membership fees. This is the only way we can guarantee that all donations are really invested in the construction of educational facilities.
What kind of activities do you do to raise funds?
As mentioned above, we release our own merch collections, which we sell for a good cause. We have also been able to cooperate with artists who have designed prints or shirts for us. You can buy our merchandise in our online shop as well as at events we participate in.
To finance the construction of a well in Tanzania, we started a social media campaign during the pandemic, the "Mach mal Wasser klar-Challenge", for which we were able to win over some well-known Cologne artists.
As part of the 1% for the Planet initiative, it is also possible to send us donations.
Are you still accepting new members? How can you participate in the association yourself?
At any time and with pleasure! Everyone is welcome. You can decide for yourself whether you want to support us by making a donation or paying a monthly membership fee, or whether you want to become active yourself and volunteer to help us with our activities.
Feel free to drop by our monthly network meetings, get to know us at the book exchange or contact us on Instagram or by email.
What do you wish for the future of the association? What project would you definitely like to realise?
The framework we have created does not allow for large or sudden growth. In this respect, we want to continue to grow organically and contribute step by step to giving the next generation in the Maasai communities a chance at education. For me personally, it is always important that we all enjoy working together. Everyone gives and helps when and how they can :)