IN LOCO FELLOWS BLOG SERIES #6: Be the change you want to see in the world
“You must be the change you want to see in the world,” Gandhi once said. As a graduate you think that you could never make a difference in the world, but you can. It all starts with your thoughts. They soon become words, which become your actions, which become your habits, which become your character, which become your destiny.
We are constantly making decisions that shape the rest of our lives. Each choice we make can forever affect our future, our impact on society, and the way others perceive us. That’s why it is so important to develop our characters. Even a simple notion can spark a lifetime ideal – positive or negative. When we help out our communities, we are influencing ourselves in a positive way that often follows us throughout our adult lives. Each tiny thought, word, action, and habit, changes your future.
I’m Lebohang Mosiuoa (Figas). The biggest decision that I have ever made was in 2012, when I had to choose whether to study Architecture or a Bachelor of Science. Since I was a little child, I had a passion for architecture, but I was good in sciences and maths in high school. While at primary and high school I spent most of my time on drawing buildings. I had to drop my environmental health science studies and join Limkokwing University of Creative Technology to follow a dream that I have had since I was a child and that dream was to study architecture. My career started in 2016, when I volunteered to join Habitat Youth Build with Habitat for Humanity Lesotho to construct a two-room house for homeless orphanage children at Mafeteng. Later that year, I was among the Limkokwing University Students who were competing to remodel and renovate Lhda Katse Lodge in which our team won.
in loco Fellowship
Learning is a never-ending journey of discovery that can only be enjoyed when it is put into practice. It should never be confined to books and rooms, but instead it should be shared with the world. I’m proud to be an in loco 2018 fellow. When I first heard about the program, I thought it was all about helping an orphanage by building a better place for them. Since it’s in my heart to help vulnerable people, I decided to leave whatever I was doing and join the in loco eight-month fellowship.
Experience at in loco
When it comes to your career, you need to put in the work and practically engage in it as you learn, because it sets the foundation for you to be a champion and the best at your craft. As someone who is practicing architecture, I never knew about participatory design before I joined in loco. In the first week of the fellowship we had a participatory design workshop, which involved the fellows, God’s Love Centre staff and the children. The important things that I learned about it is that, it forces designers to look at things from another’s point of view, it is very important to respect other people’s opinions. It helps designers gather several other facts about certain design situations they may not have been aware of. Because of in loco we now know how to approach design better.
It’s a dream of everyone who practices architecture to work with international architects. Our culture and style of approaching things differ. We learn lot of things from our international architects Pedro and Luca. Because of them, we now know about participatory design, which we never knew about before they arrived. Our local style as people who are practicing architecture in Lesotho, is only to hear what the client wants and never encourage them to take part in the design process. Also they challenged us to came up with a unique brick pattern (see below) that will give the orphanage buildings their own unique shape.
Nothing beats the power of learning by doing, because it creates knowledge and skills foundation that is rooted in your interest and experience of the subject matter. At in loco we practice what we preach, gaining the skills that we never had before. In my life I never thought I would lay a brick, fix the reinforcement and mix the mortar. We do everything by ourselves, but with the help of professionals. I’m proud to say, I can now build a house on my own, because in loco gave us a chance to unveil our hidden skills that I never knew I had before.
Afrisam cement gave us training about the good use of cement, like the quality needed when mixing mortar for plastering, bricklaying and also for concrete. Also I got an opportunity to attend the paint training with Thetsane Paint Centre. I really learned a lot from that training since in my company we are also specializing with epoxy products, but we didn’t know where they are sold in our country. We as Basotho people we use paint for the sake of painting, but we didn’t know the steps to follow when painting walls, ceilings and everything that needs to be painted.
The most important thing that we learnt at in loco is the business training. Even though we are in architecture and built environment fellowship, we are also taught to be successful entrepreneurs. These happen in many ways, like being able to listen to successful business people who come to give us testimonies on how they tackle business and how they started. The important thing that I learned from all of them is that you have to have passion in what you do and also you must have skills. You really don’t need capital to start a business, but as little as you have you can start a business.
Lastly, we learn more about entrepreneurship through the lecture series that are held every month by rise, where successful entrepreneurs and architects share their experiences and business skills to the students and inspire, graduates, lectures and the public. Also the film screenings that are held every month, whereby we have interesting discussions after watching the selected video. It also forms part of our learning as we share and discuss the problems and the solutions that face our community.
In the fellowship we all have roles that I think are going to help in our future. At the moment, I’m a logistics and plant manager. I make sure the tools on site are well protected, safe and clean. For me it’s quite a challenging role because, we as people are not the same, some are irresponsible and some are not cooperative. This kind of work requires a person to keep their eyes open all the time, because some materials might disappear and you never know where to find them. We now have our first two international students from India and Malta from the faculty of Architecture and Structural Engineering, who I believe we are going to learn a lot from them.
After the fellowship
Since I’m from a country of people who believe that, constructing a house is only for people who have money. I’m going to encourage the people to use locally available materials, like building with clay bricks. Lesotho is one of the coldest countries during winter and many people especially living in the urban areas spend a lot of money to warm their house. I’m going to introduce the cheap method of keeping the building warm in winter and cool in summer that I learned from the fellowship.