My First Week at Mama Maji

Hello! My name is Laura Garcia and I am a rising senior at Tulane studying International Development and Latin American Studies. This summer, I have been granted the amazing opportunity to work with a wonderful non-profit here in New Orleans called Mama Maji.

Mama Maji’s mission is to empower women to change their world through water. They are committed to using a participatory development model in their work, which involves connecting female change makers from across the world to take leadership in solving the water crisis. They currently have a water and sanitation project on the outskirts of Kisumu, Kenya and are in the process of launching another one in Kamronga. Rather than just going and digging a well for a community, they work with established community partners to develop micro municipalities and teach the women the three core skills they need to run or start any organization: communications, finances, and people management. This organization deliberately chose to not have a geographic element to their mission by working with women where ever women are. In New Orleans, they teach women interested in making positive change in the world the same lessons they pull from water projects abroad. These women learn how they can maximize their impact through hands on experience in applicable skills. Mama Maji is currently running out of a mobile office but primarily work out of the Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center.

I discovered Mama Maji when browsing through Tulane’s Center for Public Service’s list of community partners. I secured this internship by directly emailing the Director of Operations with a cover letter and my resumé asking if they had any available positions or opportunities for interns.

My first week at Mama Maji was very productive and informative. The first day was full of introductions and general orientation into the organization, but it was also an important day for establishing my personal goals and what my supervisor viewed as my role in the organization. Two of the young women I met on my first day are Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Fellows who are currently working with Mama Maji during their fellowship at Tulane. They are both brilliant and definitely have a more personal perspective on the needs of African women and communities, so I was thrilled to learn that they would be part of the team for a portion of my time as an intern. Right away I was learning from them. They walked me through the process of prospect research, which is an invaluable skill to have in the non-profit sector, as all non-profits need to fundraise. I also learned how to craft a personal story, bio, and mission statement, but will need to continue working on verbally delivering those with fluidity.

As an Intern at Mama Maji, I will be gaining experience in public education, public speaking, and internet media communications. I will be responsible for assisting with outreach efforts to educate local women on the impact of the water crisis, and how they can make a difference. Under the supervision of the Director of Operations and the Outreach Coordinator, I will assist in developing and executing a local outreach strategy. I will also be responsible for developing an on-campus student organization that mirrors the mission and objectives of Mama Maji that will be called The Catalyst Club.

Therefore, my learning expectations are as follows:

  1. To strengthen my community outreach skills by gaining more experience with public education and public speaking.
  2. To learn the most effective ways to increase both financial support and awareness for a certain cause, and to ensure that this responsiveness is sustained.
  3. To learn more about the global water crisis, and specifically how it is impacting lives both in Kenya and New Orleans. I also would like to be able to teach others about its impact as well.
  4. To connect with female change makers within the New Orleans community, and to help them connect with women abroad.
  5. To gain important skills vital to a career in the non-profit sector of international development, and to have helped the growth of Mama Maji through my own work.

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