Friday, February 13, 2009

February 13, 2009 - Professional Development

When you employ staff in Kenya, it is not exactly expected of you to provide for them in ways beyond their regular salary, but it is certainly not uncommon. One of the things we are doing is helping our staff develop their skills to help them be even more employable and, therefore, make more money for their families after they work for us.

For Ida, we are sending her to a well-respected cooking school beginning next week. She'll go two days a week for 3 hours each day; the first class is 5 or 6 weeks long and is basic kitchen management and hygiene. She has taken a similar class from the US Embassy in the past, but this class is more comprehensive and so we decided it would be a good idea for her to take it. After that, because she already has basic cooking skills, she'll take an advanced cooking class for an additional 5 or 6 weeks where she'll learn several new menus and types of food to cook. She will receive a certificate of completion when the classes are over. We will benefit from her new cooking skills and she will benefit because such a certificate means she can expect to be paid more in the future for her work.

For Charles, we are helping him learn about computers. This week I set up an account for him on one of our old laptops and I gave him a quick tutorial on how to get started. He had never used a computer before so he didn't know ANYTHING about them...I'm talking what the mouse is or how to turn it on! Of course he had heard a lot about the internet, but he had never seen it and had no concept of what it is. I have to admit - the internet is a very hard thing to explain to someone! So when Kristoffer and I don't have any work or driving for him to do, Charles can putter around the internet (he was particularly fascinated by "google") and is going through the help tutorial on Microsoft Word and Excel. This weekend we will get him some "how to" books (like "PCs for Dummies") that he can use to systematically teach himself the programs. This will also help him because he can write a resume for the first time and have more skills that will help him get future work. The cool thing about Charles is that he has a near-photographic memory and never forgets something he has seen, been told, or learned once.

We are certainly not saving the world by providing for our staff in these ways, but we are hopefully helping them improve their socioeconomic standing in the long run and that makes us feel good. There is that saying about giving a man a fish versus teaching him how to fish, right?


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