Meet The Team: Muhindo Malunga22nd May 2020

Who are you and what are you passions?
I’m Muhindo Malunga from the DR Congo. I was born and raised in eastern DRC, I’ve also lived in Uganda and Burundi for some years. I’m married to Grace Ushindi Mitavo and together we have two daughters (so far): Sophia and Norah.

I have been involved in leadership efforts for a while now, working with the youth. Prior to coming into contact with The Congo Tree (TCT) I worked for an organisation called Amahoro Africa which hosted a lot of conferences on different topics, bring leaders of the world together. I’ve worked for the DRC government and subsequently Tearfund where I met Heidi and Amy.

I’m passionate about helping and challenging people to reach their God-given potential. My interests are in humanity, Africa development and leadership. 

How did you get involved with TCT?
I was working with Heidi and Amy when they had the vision to start TCT. We saw that there were needs in the community that could not be met by the specific funding categories of the mainstream NGOs at the time. Together with my brother Hebdavi we talked and discussed as Heidi and Amy polished the ideas to create the organization. We wanted it to be long-term, focused on leadership and problem-solving skills. I’ve been there from the beginning and helped in organizing the very first training in Goma DRC.

What made you want to #bepartofthestory?

Seeing needs not being covered by mainstream NGOs.

Thinking about a long term in which we  can invest in young people and their ability to be young leaders of the DRC.

My passion for the youth and leadership development.

TCT’s compelling vision.

And of course Heidi’s grace and patience with me.

What is the most important leadership lesson or piece of advice you have been given, and why?
There are two examples I have and they are very vivid. The first was when I was in my first year in uni I can even remember the restaurant I was sitting in, my professor told me: 

Leadership happens in the background. It’s not where people can see, it’s not where the spotlights are. If you can win behind the curtains that’s the real test. Every step is a test in leadership. You are being trained and you’re going through challenges. Whether you’re winning or losing in the background will be shown when you have more influence. You don’t need to focus on changing the world but the personal battles. You have to start by looking inward. Focus on the foundations. What we fight in private is more important than winning in public. What we see outside is a manifestation of the tests we’ve had on the inside. And it’s the same with gifts, whatever you do to work on your gift in private is then what is seen in public.

The second is also very vivid in my mind, I was researching greatness. I was working closely with a missionary in Uganda so I asked him and we had some tea. I asked him – what can you do to achieve greatness? And this is what he said:

You know what, all the people you consider great, at the end of it they’re just people. They have the same worries, the same doubts. All they do is act. You don’t seek greatness, what you seek is to make a difference of what you can where you are. We should not focus on the impact that we’re going to make but focus on what we’re producing in the here and now. The source of the river, never knows how far the river goes. The source never knows or cares where the water goes, it just gushes out water. As leaders we need to make sure that what we’re producing is blessing people. We don’t start by looking at the impact, we start by looking at what we can contribute, what we can do and then the impact will come in later. Instead of saying ‘this is where I want my message to get’ or ‘this is who I want to hear my message’, we ought to focus on ‘this is what I’m going to give to the world’. Focus on what we want to give to the world not how far the reach is. You never know who it could have a profound impact on.

What inspires you most about our young leaders?
These leaders have an insatiable desire to make a difference and they are ready to anything necessary to achieve their vision. TCT has always chosen dynamic young people who are able to outgrow the organization. Also the diversity among them and unique creativity.

What can others learn from our future young leaders?
They can learn that when passion is harnessed and channeled, it is capable of great good and can change the world. They can also learn that resources invested in young people are not wasted. Many young people have seen talkers but when they meet people who walk the talk and who back their talk with resource investment, they are capable of accomplishing great things as a result of believing in themselves.

What tangible difference do you think TCT could make in DRC / around the world?
You need to hear the stories, that’s the only way you can touch what TCT is doing. We have many stories and they have gone on to do many things. The tangible difference to me is those lives and those stories of transformation.

Beyond that I think that TCT could have an impact not just in DRC but the world in three ways: 

Expand. Develop the programme to reach more people. The more people you have trained the more impact you’re likely to have. If you only train a few people they end up feeling isolated and meaningless. Whereas when you have a team of people you have people supporting one another and encouraging one another, they feel as thought they are part of a community. As this grows we could have an army of people who are leaders.

Alumni.  Find ways of identifying the people who have gone through our programmes and are in a position of influence and think about a way of continuing to support them. Identify our best students and find a way to take them to the next level of leadership. Providing them with the support they need to increase their influence.

Strategy. As well as the advocacy work done by TCT, we could do studies and scenarios of a road map for difference. These would be presented to leaders and influencers. TCT could make sure that we sit together and create a development programme for a town or a village not just the individuals within them. TCT could push the thinking, not just advocacy but also making change. Rather than just pointing out the issues we should be ready to produce an answer to the question –  what should we do?