A U.S. military officer in Afghanistan. A forced soldier in the Congo.
was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officer. During his combat experience in Afghanistan, he found himself confronted with the reality of desperate rural poverty. His service showed him the link between poverty and conflict, and left him searching for a better way to bring about peace in unstable areas.
on the other hand, grew up in poverty in North Kivu, in the midst of DRC’s devastating wars. Abducted by an armed rebel group, David witnessed the destruction of his homeland and the deaths of his friends. His heart yearned for peace, but he knew intuitively that top-down interventions like UN peacekeeping operations would be insufficient. So he pursued a career in development. He worked with several major NGOs and government agencies in the region before winning a scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree in South Korea.
Meanwhile, Dan finished his service in Afghanistan and was transferred to South Korea, where he met David. Despite a world of differences between them, Dan and David connected deeply over their shared experiences in war and their desire for peace. Together they began to develop a rich philosophy of grassroots development; one that’s based on empowering local leaders to drive their own development. They chose to put these ideas to the test in David’s homeland, the DRC, one of the least developed places on earth.
The DRC would be the ultimate test case for their theory.
In September 2014, David graduated from his Master’s program and moved back to eastern Congo. He immediately put their conceptual ideas into action, and partnered with the small village of Bunzi. David had no resources, funding, or team, yet he committed himself to expressing their philosophy of change in Bunzi. Meanwhile, Dan scrambled to raise some early capital in Korea to support David’s work.
They received 501(c)(3) status in the U.S., and registered as an NGO in the Congo. The organization was named Mavuno, a Swahili word meaning “Harvest.” By March 2015, Dan finished his military service and joined Mavuno full-time himself.
That first partner community, the village of Bunzi, served as a beta test for our model, and the results were nothing short of extraordinary.
Mavuno was the result of a friendship, and relationships remain at the heart of what we do. We invest in people, not projects. The real hero of the Mavuno story is the Congolese villager, empowered and equipped to lead their community to a prosperous and peaceful future. Thank you for joining us in affirming their dignity and their capacity to transform the DRC.