“One sees clearly only with the heart” – Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Mati is an independent non-governmental organisation (NGO), working since 1997 in the north of Bangladesh, in the districts Sherpur und Mymensingh. There we develop projects focusing on self-defined community development which we plan and implement together with the local population. Mati was founded jointly by Bangladeshis and Germans.
Mati Bangladesh is officially registered as an NGO in Bangladesh at the NGO Affairs Bureau Dhaka (NGOAB) and the Social Welfare Office Sherpur.
The Mati Head Office is in Sankipara/Mymensingh, where Lenen Rahaman, founder of Mati, extended his parental home into an office and training complex. Besides, we work from five village-based field stations. Around 70 full-time staff work for Mati, alongside local and international volunteers.
Although Bangladesh itself is a country with a strong authoritarian and partriarchal culture, Mati tries to keep hierarchies flat and promotes joint decision-making on all levels of the organisation.
As we are a relatively small NGO, a personalized and friendly work atmosphere are of high importance to us. Frequent meetings on all levels are an opportunity to constantly discuss and adapt our working strategies.
We believe that any kind of development has to come from below, from the community-people themselves. For interventions to work, they have to originate from the grass-roots-level, the aims and strategies have to be formulated by those concerned, in our case, from the poor themselves. Thus Mati functions as a mediator who transforms the needs and wishes of the people into action. We place great emphasis on participation and local ownership of projects, as this means that the local communities will feel responsible for the development processes they are involved in. This is only possible, when Mati remains in close and constant contact with the poor. We have to live close together to be capable to truly understand the community’s concerns, to grasp their mentalities, to be able to share their worries, and in order to be perceived as a serious partner.
For that reason we do not have a prestigious office in the capital Dhaka, as our focus groups do not live next to the embassies and foreign agencies in Gulshan or Banani, but in the slums of Mymensingh or in remote, underserved villages far out in the countryside.
Mati gets financial support through private members and sponsors, international aid agencies and public donors.
Mati’s projects are financially supported by public donors such as the German Ministry for economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) in Eschborn/Dhaka, the German Embassy in Dhaka, the Government of Bangladesh Ministry for Women and Children, as well as charities like Oxfam, MISEREOR, and Bread for the World, and small foundations and initiatives like The OnePercentFund for Development, Rome; Stiftung Brücke, Stiftung 100, HelfensWERT e.V., Mati e.V., and Fair Trade Shops. Last but not least, the many friends and friends of friends who spontaneously decide to help us with their donation. Without them a lot of our work would not be possible.