Hometown: Brighton, United Kingdom
Video - The House That Zac Built For Mama Mary
Why should you be the IVHQ volunteer of the year?
In 2011 I volunteered with IVHQ in Arusha, Tanzania. I was placed in a local school, and whilst there I became very close to a local mother and her family. Mama Mary is in her late thirties, and has seven daughters. Two of her children attended the school where I volunteered, teaching English and Maths.
Mama Mary’s husband is an alcoholic and lives in a different area of Tanzania. He has abandoned the family on several occasions and rarely returns to the household. When I met her, Mama Mary was doing several different jobs to earn a living; cleaning neighbours clothes, fetching water and helping with the vegetable garden in the local school. Her other children have sadly had to sacrifice their education to help support the family.
After visiting almost daily, eventually Mama Mary felt comfortable enough around me to ask if I could fix her roof. The roof was riddled with holes and would leak profusely when it rained, leaving the family sleeping in damp conditions. The roof was so bad that I thought if I got up there to fix it, the house would end up collapsing, so I decided to build them a new house instead.
I went home to the UK intending to raise money and return the following year. It took longer than I thought. I traveled to Australia to ensure I earned enough money, and saved as I went. Finally, after more than a year, I had enough money to build the house. I started the build in September 2012 and finished the it in early 2013. Mama Mary and her children now enjoy a spacious three roomed house, out-door toilet with much improved sanitation standards, a vegetable garden, and a small business selling vegetables to ensure economic stability.
Since then, I have completed building two more houses and two toilet projects. I now have a registered charity, The House That Zac Built, and I am 100% committed to using my building experience to improve the lives of people in Tanzania. I know how to manage a project, how to spend money wisely, effectively, and ensure that it goes directly to the right cause.
How will you use the award money for your project?
USD$5,000 – I would provide a family living in poor conditions, with a spacious three roomed house, improved sanitation and a small business model to ensure they remain self-sustained.
USD$3,000 – I would provide three families with improved sanitary conditions. They will receive a new toilet, with tiled walls to ensure it’s easy to keep clean, basic educational information on hygiene, toilet paper and soap.
USD$2,000 – I would provide several women with sewing machines, enroll them into sewing lessons and encourage them to open a small business repairing or making clothes for the local community.
USD$1,000 – I would invest this money into setting up small businesses for several families, to ensure economic stability. Basic business models and education are vital to gain a regular income for families living in poverty.
How will the award money help to build skills and self-sufficiency the local community of the project?
All of my proposed projects would help local people to improve their skill-sets, and to make sure they stay self-sustained. Through running small businesses, they will gain valuable knowledge on how to maintain cash flow, how to budget effectively, understand the market, and most importantly, how to make money!
The sewing project I mentioned above will have a direct impact on people’s skill sets. Women will receive training on how to improve their sewing skills, and then can go into their own communities to use them. With these enhanced skills they can start small businesses, or even work in town, to gain a sustainable income.
How will you measure the success of using the award money at your project?
The kinds of projects I am pursuing are tangible, real world things. You can see and touch houses, sewing machines and gardens. So for my projects, success will be measured simply by contrasting people’s living conditions and incomes before and after implementing our projects. Whatever we build, whatever we set up, this award money will be well spent, and given to people who really need it.
How will you ensure the difference you make through investing the award money is sustainable in the long term?
Each project I have done in the past has been done with the aim to ensure long-term economic stability. Providing families with small businesses alongside their houses creates a platform for them to earn decent money for a long period of time. Providing the family with knowledge and education of how to run these business, and giving them advice, ensures that they run a successful business and make as much money as is needed.
What is your long-term vision for this project?
Our aim is to better the quality of living for impoverished communities in Tanzania, and to ensure they remain sustainable. In the future I am aiming to be able to build whole communities. I want to run a project where I provide numerous families with new houses, a good school, access to water, clean sanitation, and a large business model for them all to work on.
This is a project which will take a while to achieve, I am currently in talks with business owners and investors in the UK who are interested in helping me with this project. Being able to run another project in the meantime, will allow me to gain more knowledge, and experience in the field. It will also allow my charity to gain traction, publicity and recognition, ultimately helping us to raise enough funds for our larger project in the future.