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IN LOCO FELLOWS BLOG SERIES #9: No construction background…yet an in loco fellow

Towards the end of August 2017, that is when I heard about in loco. I didn’t even have to think twice about applying for it but there was a challenge for me, one of the main requirements was that the participants should have “construction related” experience. I almost gave up but the fact that the project was about improving the lives of the underprivileged kept me motivated to pursue the application process.
I remember Pedro Clarke, one of the in loco architects and rise team, asking me why I applied for the program seeing that I am the only person in the interviews without a construction related background. I knew I needed make rise understand why I needed to be part of the team regardless of my inexperience in the field.

My passion for community involvement towards development, improving the less fortunate communities have always been my driving force. Not forgetting the most important motivator to me; my personal experience.

I had an opportunity to be provided a better life and education by a similar facility “SOS Children’s Village Maseru”. That is where the love and motivation to help others came from. Not only did SOS contribute so much towards my development over thirteen years; they also encouraged me to do the same for other vulnerable people around me. I guess the love and care that I got from SOS as a child is beyond measure and the nurturing that I received helped me grow to become an independent young adult. This is basically what I would love to see happening to God’s Love Centre (GLC) youth.
The program started in February 2018 with a Participatory Design Workshop (PDW). I was clueless about building and designing, but that did not matter because the experience was easy to follow and very interesting. It was exactly what I had done in school – community assessment. This is where we interacted with the kids and they were amazing. They were full of energy and excitement as they were given the opportunity to be the decision makers of how their buildings should look like.

Not only did we involve the GLC community; we also involved the community surrounding GLC. Our first visit to GLC was really emotional, seeing the real NEED that in loco will be providing solutions to. We knew we needed to work hard from day one, as fellows to fulfil the mission, and guess what, we are on the 10th month of the project running and things are looking pretty good.

I have been keen to learn from day one. I remember some of the fellows asking me if I ever imagined digging trenches, placing reinforcement and being a labourer on site. Honestly, I had never thought along those lines. However, it has been fun; especially with such a supportive team. Now seeing the building almost done just makes me so proud because I was part of team that started it.

In as much as I have learned so much in the construction side of things; as you can guess from my educational background, my role in the fellowship was not exactly construction related. I have been the link between the project and the GLC community and I have been highly involved in the capacity building of GLC. One of the things I did which I am so proud of is the Business Trainings for the youth of GLC.

We have established six business groups and two of them are about to be launched; an Internet café and Tuck-shop. The other business groups are already running and being improved upon with the help of professional mentors who we identified for them. For example, the Pre-school was already running at GLC, they want to join it together with a day-care facility and their mentor is helping the group to improve it.

Now that we are coming to the end of the fellowship, it is going to be sad to part ways. Relationships were established both with GLC and the fellows; however this is not going to be a goodbye rather a see-you-soon moment. I am going to miss GLC and the kids especially the sessions we had, but we have just started the program “I AM WHO?”  that will go beyond January and that will grant me the opportunity to spend time with them. As for the fellows and the rest of the team, we will meet along the business lane because we are definitely going to need one another.

The fellowship has been fun, informative, and full of networking opportunities and definitely there has been great career improvement for me.

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