Training for today, trainers for tomorrow.
Since capacity building is essential to success, Human Needs Project has invested almost as much in the 'soft' building program as in the actual 'hard' construction. HNP's community-based labor force and management trainees are at the heart of the project—during the construction and preparation, and also the management and sustainability of the center once it opens doors.
The local labor force working on the construction rotated every two weeks. Not only does it provides a job opportunities for Kiberans, but also it encourages community ownership, for more than 1000 Kiberans have worked on the building. And these Kiberans have now been trained in high quality construction methods.
Thirty management trainees, young women and men representing all ethnic groups in Kibera, have spent more than a year learning to successfully manage and maintain the Town Center, and to provide the highest standards of professionalism and customer service. Their curriculum included business management; accounting; electrical, water chemistry, plumbing and pump mechanics; ; conflict management, co-op creation and management, IT and the HNP Integrated Basic Services concept.
Our training started with an emphasis on self-leadership. We wanted to be sure our trainees felt confident to take on the challenges of running a high-tech facility, and to take responsibility for their actions while embracing HNP's codes of transparency and accountability. It has been deeply rewarding for all HNP volunteers to see our trainees absorb this heavy dose of capacity building with such depth of commitment and engagement.
Training lasted more than a year, 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. To enable trainees to join this full time program, HNP is paying them a small stipend. While this is enough to keep them afloat, many have sacrificed better paying job offers so they can become the leaders of HNP's Town Center.
It is their dedication and passion for the HNP mission, and their ability to train future generations, that will sustain the center in the long term.
Every year, one or two of the HNP Kenya staff or management trainees has been selected for further study at the Environmental Leadership Program at UC Berkeley. This program brings together midlevel practitioners from dozens of countries to develop skills to meet environmental goals that also reduce poverty and social conflict. Despite coming from a slum, our Management Trainees have the skills to thrive in this program. In fact, in 2013 one of our Management Trainees, Byrones, was elected by his peers to be emcee for the graduation ceremony of the ELP program.
Capacity building for Community Coordinating Committee and Sacco
Since the Community Coordinating Committee (3Cs) is helping form the co-op that owns and operates the Town Center, HNP has also been training its members. Courses include HNP’s core values, collaborative behavior and cooperative participation, democratic participation and rights, business planning and how to ensure financial sustainability, leadership, and life skills. Similar training has been provided to members of HNP’s Savings and Credit Cooperative Society, Sacco.