Learning to love the process
I remember my eleven-year-old self coming across a drawing which I later learned was a floor plan. I began to wonder how a simple drawing like the one I had seen became a house. I was quiet curious and really loved to read a lot as a child. I then learned that for every structure to be constructed it had to be drawn first. However, a bigger question remained; how is construction carried out? I guess that’s why I ended up pursuing a Diploma in Civil Engineering.
I am Ikhetheleng Moshoeshoe, a 24-year old woman born and raised in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. I am a fellow with rise international’s in loco fellowship 2020 cohort. I have big hopes to make real changes in my community and the economy through entrepreneurship. As a fresh graduate from school with little on site experience, this fellowship seemed like a great opportunity to enhance my skills and to become more employable. So when I joined the rise family, I was looking to gain practical experience, not knowing there would be so much more to gain.
This fellowship has provided me with valuable skills which I can use to start my own enterprise in future. It also supports the fellows through resource and professional networking which is great for building a business entity. I read somewhere that in a man’s world, a woman has to use both her brains and beauty. The past 6 months that I have spent here has taught me to change the narrative to “use her brains and gets her hands dirty”. Through labor intensive work and working with different people from numerous disciplines of the construction industry, I have learned and still continue to learn the key activities involved in construction. Some of these include project preparation, bricklaying, carpentry, roofing, electrical and plumbing works. I also got to experience the challenges involved in construction first hand which according to me is one of the best ways to ever master anything.
During the design stage of the project, I was part of the research team. This was where we went out to do research on different types of material and their availability while building a relationship with the suppliers. As a shy person, this task helped me work on my communication skills and it was a definite boost to my confidence. I have also been involved in purchasing materials playing the role of a buyer. This was a very challenging role since I also had to negotiate prices from our suppliers to ensure that we stick to the budget as per the Bill of Quantities. Since we work as a group, this fellowship has been a platform where I get to show my teamwork skills while also learning from other fellows.
Even though more women are progressively and proudly making their mark, the built environment is still a male dominated industry. My dream is to change that and through the entrepreneurship training that I get from rise, I am at a very big advantage. These sessions have changed my mindset from working towards being more employable to wanting to be an employer. I am confident that I have acquired enough tools to help me start my business. In addition, the in loco fellowship provides a mentorship program which propels me into professional networks and spaces, by learning from and interacting with my esteemed mentor.
One of the most inspiring aspects of rise as an organization is giving back to the community. We are currently constructing offices for LNFOD; the first of its kind in the country. This building will be user friendly to all people living with disability. With a cavity wall to ensure improved thermal efficiency throughout the building so as to reduce heating and air conditioning costs and a beautiful screen wall. Our main aim is to reduce costs and challenge construction methods while abiding by the SABS housing and environmental standards and not compromising lives and the durability of the building. This really requires an open mind. We also get to work with amazing architects from in and out of Lesotho. I am very grateful for this opportunity and excited to learn more in the remaining month.