Malembe Rise!!

Malembe Rise! Slowly with Intention…


When it comes to humanitarian help, even the purest desire of contributing to the ones in need can be harmful. The idea of coming from a western civilization to help or solve a problem is both racist and colonialist. Countless well-intentioned initiatives ended up as UFOs (Unfinished Objects) in several African countries, littering the landscape. What undeveloped countries need is consistent actions sustained in extended periods, not a five years project that will end as fast as it started after that time is over. 

In this episode, we talk with Ann Marie Thomson, Ph.D. She is a retired Adjunct Professor at the O’Neil School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), Indiana University. She holds a B.A. in International Relations from North Park University, an Associate Degree in Nursing, with RN licensure, a Masters in Public Affairs, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Comparative Politics at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. 

Born and raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ann Marie is passionate about finding a way to make cross-cultural interactions contribute positively to social justice. She also co-founded the Bloomington-based education NGO, Giving Back to Africa, in 2007, which recently morphed into Malembe Rise. 

We had an inspiring conversation about her work as a volunteer and Malembe Rise’s actions in the Rep Dem of Congo. She kindly shared her parents’ story as volunteers themselves and their lifetime work in the African country. Ann Marie brilliantly explained the difference between actions and projects and how each one of them affects the communities they are meant to help. We also talked about Malembe Rise’s education model, long-term goals, and actuality. 

Tune in to Episode 14 of Bravefull to hear more!

Some Questions I Ask:

  • Tell us about your background and how you came to love the Rep Dem of Congo? (3:54)
  • When you look at Malembe Rise, what do you think about the job is being done? (11:04)
  • When you started, what was your mission? (23:30)
  • What does a curriculum look like for students that are benefiting from Malembe Rise? (32:07)
  • What do you think is the common denominator to make Malembe Rise’s model work across the world? (49:39)

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • A little bit of Ann Marie’s background story and her relationship with fear during moments of anti-white feelings in the Rep Dem of Congo (5:12)
  • One of the first things Ann Marie learned through many mistakes (11:36)
  • Education is a long process. Educators probably won’t see the results themselves (16:15)
  • The central role of humility on any cross-cultural work (21:58)
  • The difference between sustainable programs and well-intentioned and enthusiast initiatives (44:55)


Connect with Ann Marie:

Let’s Connect!

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