Monja Wolf’s year of helping the needy
DUBAI// From setting up a sustainable rickshaw business in Madagascar to building new homes for poor families in Brazil, the past 12 months have at times been challenging for the founder of a Dubai voluntary organisation.
But the experience and momentum gained in the past year are something Monja Wolf, the founder of Monyati Initiatives, is determined to make the most of next year.
Ms Wolf, a 30-year-old from Germany, has been in the UAE since 2006, after giving up a modelling career to move into real-estate. Three years later, she founded Monyati Initiatives, after initiating a small project where she delivered heaters to an orphanage in Nepal.
“I think next year will be when we bring all the ideas we have had in individual projects together under a larger strategy,” she said.
“At the same time we will also continue to carry out projects as and when we identify a particular need.”
The year began with improving facilities at nine schools in Talas, Kyrgrzstan, making hot water and heating available to 2,500 children, teachers and janitors.
Volunteers from the UAE then helped to build 11 new low-cost wooden homes for people living in a favela slum in Sao Paulo.
In Kashmir, 550 women benefited from a scheme to provide them with sewing machines and teach them the skills to set up their own business.
In Tulear, Madagascar, Monyati Initiatives set up a successful social business initiative that provided rickshaw pullers with their own carts. They could then pay back the cost over a period of time, allowing the scheme to be self sufficient.
It has proved so successful it could be expanded to other countries in the new year.
“For next year our focus is going to be on rural farming communities in Uttar Pradesh in India,” said Ms Wolf.
“The aim is to get people in these areas to understand how important agriculture is and to encourage people to remain in their communities rather than go to the cities in the hope of finding jobs.”
To do this the organisation is creating the Primary Agricultural Education Fund to allow for a wide ranging English language curriculum to be taught to children in rural areas.
“It will give them the skills and knowledge to improve their farming as well as teaching them business skills,” said Ms Wolf.
“But it will be flexible enough that if children want to go to the city it will give them the confidence and education to be able to do that as well.
“This is something we could then also apply to other countries like Pakistan and Kenya.”
To do this Monyati Initiative also aims to increase its number of full time staff from the current five.
“It is a lot of work for us at the moment and although we are very fortunate to get help from volunteers and corporate sponsorship we need to have more people on a full-time basis,” she added.
For more information, visit monyati.org
Updated: December 24, 2013 04:00 AM