By POTIPHER TEMBO-
THEY sang, danced, ululated and expressed great joy.
Indeed, this was something which they had to celebrate home about because they had achieved the skills empowerment which would always be with them.
These are the youths from Ndola’s Kawama and George townships who has just graduated in basic building technique, including bricklaying, setting out, foundations, concrete work, and fixing when they were on job on training.
This graduation ceremony took place at the newly opened Kawama Secondary School which the graduates themselves constructed while on training.
A non governmental organisation (NGO), known as Build It International (BII), whose headquarters is in the United Kingdom (UK) but has branches in many parts of the world including Zambia, provides practical and sustainable response to the chronic need for basic infrastructure and jobs and whose vision is a world in which schools, clinics, affordable housing and other essential facilities are available to all.
While ensuring that these essentials are achievable, BII recruits the people to build the infrastructures and these people have to come from the communities they live in and mostly, the vulnerable youths in these communities are preferred.
The organisation recruits youths who have no skills whatsoever, but once they are taken on, they are put on job on training and when they graduate, they are helped to be fused in the world of productivity.
Recently, 48 young men and women who were recruited by BII to construct George Secondary School near Twapia Township and Kawama Secondary School in Kawama Township graduated from training in basic building techniques.
BII country director, Sheila Tuskan Sager, said the organisation was keen to help young people acquire skills which would help them become responsible citizens who would be able to fend for themselves and for their families.
Ms Sager said BII’s priority was training into work.
In 2012, the Kawama project saw 20 trainees pass their examinations and 14 of them secured work immediately with local construction firms.
“At the centre is our training programme for young men and women to become qualified builders,” said Ms Sager.
She said the young men and women who were on job on training with BII had taken a first step in acquiring the skills and advised them to use these skills if they were to curve their future.
However, she pointed out that jobs were not easy to come by and it was for this reason that she urged the youths to work together and reach the opportunity when it came their way.
“You have taken a first step in doing this. You need to go out to the people and show them what you can do. Don’t sit back and hope that people will come to you because they will not. Use your skills by working as a team and not going it alone,” implored Ms Sager.
She hinted that the core of BII programme was to equip young men and women with practical building skills so that they can find work.
She was echoed by BII training manager Justus Katungulu, who said the organisation’s training programme mixes work with experience with class work and on-site practical.
Mr Katungulu said people who are eligible for training come from communities where the organisation serves.
He said the youths who are trained on the job are not required to pay anything but they are instead paid lunch allowance while on training.
The trainer said the organization links with area councilors and churches to recruit the trainees and the Technical Education Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA) inspects the sites and see the projects where the actual work is done but formal schools like the Ndola Skills are used to handle the examinations.
Mr Katungulu pointed out that BII announces the intentions to people who are supposed to go for recruitment and those that are picked work for a week without pay and when the organisation is satisfied that they are the right students, they engage them and they start working on the projects up to completion time.
“We link with councillors and churches to get the trainees. We visit the would-be trainees in their homes. We see their living status before we recruit them and we work with them for a week in which time we study them and once we are satisfied with them, we take them on job on training,” said Mr Katungulu.
He stated that once the trainees graduated, BII links them to industry by lobbying around managers from contractors while others go out looking for jobs because they are empowered with entrepreneurship skills.
BII also holds refresher courses for those who may not penetrate markets. After graduating, the youths were given tools boxes and BII certificates of attendance while they received TEVETA statements of results.
A former BII trainee, Daniel Nyirenda, who is now working as a contractor said it was worthwhile being trained by the organisation and urged the graduates to utilize what they achieved as trainees.
“The skills we earn from BII are very helpful; otherwise we would have just been roaming the streets. Those who have graduated today should put their skills to use and not just sit. They should use the tools they have been given in case they receive tenders,” said Mr Nyirenda.
Another beneficiary of BII training, Prince Mufuzi, who just graduated, hailed the organisation for the good gesture it rendered to the community of Kawama and George Townships.
Mr Mufuzi who gave a vote of thanks at the graduation ceremony said the trainees who had graduated were grateful with what BII had done to their lives.
“We, the community of George and Kawama Townships, are very excited for four things we have achieved from BII: – the new school infrastructures that the UK friends have sponsored closer to our
communities during the golden jubilee year for our children and ourselves, the skills that they have empowered us with for our sustainability and development, the hand tools that we are given so that we do not fail because of lack of tools and the knowledge and the recognition by TEVETA to examine us on site.
“To some of us, this is the only opportunity in life to advance further in our education and career,” said Mr Mufuzi.
He thanked BII UK partners who sponsored the programme and infrastructure and the contractors for their support during their learning on the job through encouragement.
“We thank site agents and training team for their continued support and knowledge. We promise to make use of the knowledge, skills and tools. We thank you for allowing us to acquire the knowledge,” said Mr Mufuzi.
The youths were proud to see that the schools they constructed in George and Kawama townships were now operational and urged pupils who were enrolled at these institutions to guard them jealously and
refrain from vandalism.
With the growing construction works going on throughout the country in recent times, the youths hope to reap more than what they sowed by putting into action the skills they achieved from BII