As part of a NGO here in the Horn of Africa we strive to not just deliver aid and leave, but to develop valuable skills that will help people pull themselves out of poverty. One project that has been running for several years is The Project House. Many of the women that participate are in their 20’s; they have little education, and if not for the project house they would be at home sitting around doing nothing. With help from The Project House these girls have learned valuable skills such as sewing, jewelry making, and cooking. They are shown how to make things like rugs, earrings, ornaments, bread, cinnamon rolls, etc. These items are then sold in the community at markets and even in stores around the city. The girls also learn how to manage money, account for finances, pay for fees, etc. So not only are they learning valuable hands-on skills, but also business management skills.
Recently The Project House held a graduation for 4 girls who graduated from the cooking portion of the program. The girls were asked to bake several of the items they have learned from memory, and if they succeeded then they could graduate. Now that they have graduated they can begin working for themselves—marketing, selling, etc.
It was such a joy to be part of the graduation. The girls were so excited to graduate and the other girls were just as excited to see their fellow friends succeed. The local leader of The Project House has even opened up the cooking school for other women to join. We along with some hlep from others plan to send our house helper, (who I will refer to as K), to receive the training. K will cook for us several day a week and this way she can gain an even better understanding of not just cooking, but managing finances and developing relationships with the other women. I look forward to seeing where the graduates end up over the next several months. There is already a microloan in process for one of the former graduates to buy and oven and begin her own catering business. Let's just say I know where I'll be getting my next team meal from. :)