Determined to Develop was founded in 2009 as a means to assist the people of Malawi, Africa.
Its founder, Matt Maroon is a 2006 graduate of the University of Dayton who, before heading to law school, decided to undertake a year of service volunteering in rural Malawi from 2006 to 2008. After teaching at a secondary school, and helping to run a trade school for orphans for two years, Matt’s life-plan changed and he went home with a renewed life-purpose, starting Determined to Develop as a vehicle to assist in new development initiatives like those of which he had been a part.
Just before Christmas of 2009, and after a graduate degree in anthropology, Matt moved to an even more rural part of Malawi and began laying the foundations for an on-the-ground operation, partnering with Malawian people and connecting with the community in a way that few “outsiders” ever had. With three of his former Malawian students and one former colleague, he spent the first year living in a mud house with a grass roof, sleeping on a reed mat in the heart of the village. Slowly, together they built the infrastructure that could support the type of systemic change they hoped to bring.
Beginning more as a means to get donations to Malawi, the charity grew each year and became intentional about connecting with the community to work in partnership, rather than to prescribe solutions with a top-down approach. The inclusive approach they took meant that Matt and his Malawian team held countless meetings with chiefs, village development committees, women’s groups, civil society leaders, government stakeholders, and even the kings of various tribes to understand their take on what development meant and how they thought it should be applied in their context. In many cases, it was the first time a “white man” was asking them such questions – getting their opinion rather than dictating a solution.
From these meetings, a set of cornerstones, representing shared goals, emerged: Education & Youth Support, Health & Nutrition, Women’s Empowerment, and Environment. Additionally, three cross cutting issues permeated all discussions: orphan care, gender equality and social justice.
From there, projects sprouted one by one but still on a hand-to-mouth basis. When the charity had a few donations, it was able to do a few projects. And so it began with support for school fees and nursery schools, adopting education as its paramount focus area, in line with the community’s needs.
Determined to Develop moved from a passive to an active Board in October 2013 and was able to recruit talented directors who would ensure proper planning, oversight and funding was achieved in the long term, in order to realize Determined to Develop’s extended goals of development and solvency well into the future.
From that process, Determined to Develop, with an almost all Malawian contingent, has increased its programming activities each year and has been able to deliver exceptional value per dollar. Determined to Develop is now a staple within the community in Malawi, and Matt has succeeded in integrating Determined to Develop’s mission with that of the people with whom it serves. Determined to Develop continues to partner with other organizations and is continually recognized for its professional approach toward development, including partnerships with other international organizations and universities.