IN LOCO FELLOWS BLOG SERIES #8: 8 months of my life – Four roles in which I rose to the occasion
I had just received a call from the Head of Programs from my former beloved school Lerotholi Polytechnic asking me to apply for some fellowship called In loco. I wasn’t interested until the Dean of the School of the Built Environment called, encouraging me to apply. I remember browsing on my small phone to check the fellowship out. By then, I had not decided what I wanted to do with my life in over 2 years. “This is a good initiative” I exclaimed, making my mind up to join Relationships Inspiring Social Enterprise (rise). I had previously organized some charity events in the past but this kind of community work that brings together entrepreneurship, construction, design and social welfare was new and thrilling.
September – November 2017:
I had a life changing decision to make; take a job with one of the biggest architectural firms in Lesotho or accept a position as an in loco fellow. After a lot of careful reflection, I decided to accept the in loco fellowship. I had initially felt a bit discouraged after being informed that the program would be postponed for three months, but i quickly regained my enthusiasm because I knew that this program would help me give back and grow professionally as an Architectural Technician.
February -April 2018:
The project kicked off on a high note. I got to meet 19 amazing fellows who were just as eager to learn and contribute as I was, which really inspired me to work even harder. The planning phase of the project was hectic for me with all the planning, presentations and revisions. It was exciting to create something that we would be building with the help of international students later in the year. I must have made quite an impression, because amongst all the fellows, I was awarded the project manager role first, along with another fellow, Katleho.
The rubber met the road during this time: all of our planning came to fruition, resulting in us managing the face of the program, the social media campaign, the lecture series, the film screenings, the donations and liaising with stakeholders. This was tiring and new. I think I almost reached breaking point while we were preparing for the groundbreaking ceremony. Eventually, we gained momentum and it turned to be amazing. It taught me how to plan and run a project and write press releases. I had never written a press release before, nor even plan an event where the Minister would be invited.
I remember my first film screening, it was not hard, as I have stood before thousands of people to address different issues. However what was new was conducting a discussion about Architecture in conjunction with our country, I was nervous but when I looked at the back of the hall I saw Daniela, director of rise smiling back at me and nodding her head, this gave me courage more than one could ever understand.
The construction phase began, as we had all been eagerly awaiting. My site foreman role was exciting. I had always wanted to work in the construction industry. Being a hands-on person, I knew my new role would help me understand my designs better as I grew in experience. This role did not go as well as I had anticipated. During this time, I remember having a session with the project coordinator and the director about my fluctuating performance and I knew they were right. Despite having had a shaky start, I managed to improve on my work output and led the team to meeting milestones.
I am confident that I can design and build a building from paper to ground up. This project delivered more than I could ever imagine on experiential learning. In August, we had various international students’ workshops which lasted for about a month. Martina, a friend I made during the workshops, was fun and full of life. She was an architecture student from Florida, USA. She had a million-dollar smile and she worked really hard on the project. These workshops brought exposure to our program and our country, they motivated me to further my studies and to do more. I was given another role, Health and Safety Officer, which broadened my horizons. I was shocked at all the hazards that were on our construction site and how important it was to address them before they cause harm to the fellows. I wasn’t a qualified Health and Safety officer but after reading the file that our mentor Willem compiled, I was confident to wear my green helmet. This role was far better than my previous role, it was new and challenging. It was in this role that I discovered my interest in learning or rather having a qualification in Health and Safety.
As I sit here with teary eyes, I have a few days before my fellowship ends. I am leaving this new home and this family that I have come to cherish so much. What keeps me strong, is the strength I have gained from rise, the construction project and God’s Love Centre orphanage. I am leaving all smiles bursting with renewed optimism and full of blessings from GLC. I leave a better person than I came in, with a better definition of myself. I am taking home the love and the team work that I acquired here. When I came into this program I wanted to achieve 3 major things which were construction, entrepreneurship and improving the lives of those at the orphanage. My team and I were able to achieve this and even more.
I have always been an extrovert and an optimist since I can remember, I have a huge personality at least that’s what I’m told. I am very confident and a leader by birth and firmly believe I can do anything as a woman like a lioness in the jungle. I am grateful for my directors and coaches who love me enough to always tell me when I am wrong and catch me when I fall.