WINDHOEK, Feb. 3 — A training centre in Namibia’s capital Windhoek is equipping many locals, especially women, with skills to help them transform their lives and emerge from the doldrums of poverty.
Women At Work Training Centre, a not-for-profit organisation, run the hospitality training programme and other skills development projects for vulnerable locals to help them be economically secure.
Teopolina Haihambo, 28, enrolled for the eight-week hospitality course at the centre after struggling to find her feet after retrenchment in 2019.
She is among the over 1,600 locals who have been trained in hospitality and other courses at the centre since 2009.
“After two years of sitting at home, this is the first course I have enrolled in ever. I am happy to participate in the course, and I have learned new skills in cooking different types of food, ironing, and broader hospitality etiquette. I am once more productive,” Haihambo said on Wednesday.
The hospitality course is also serving as a lifeguard for other participants. Lea Kuume was drawn to the course by more opportunities and networking prospects.
“The course introduced me to new ways of doing things professionally. Through the course, I acquired new skills that will help me to improve my life, family, and community,” said the 38-year-old woman.
Complemented by prior experience working as a security guard, domestic worker, and retail, Kuume is optimistic that the course will catapult her into entrepreneurship. She looks forward to generating good money upon completion of the hospitality training.
“My goal is to open a restaurant and subsequently seek to secure a job in the hospitality and tourism sector. I hope to inspire other women that it is possible to transform their lives,” she said.
For Olivia Ndakolonghoshi, the course would aid in jump-starting her career and help her become more active as she had been sitting at home for over a year.
“I learned a lot from here. Not only cooking skills but this course accorded me a chance to build a connection that would aid vocation success moving forward,” she said.
Kelvin Goagoseb, the only male participant in the cohort, said that enrolling on the course is more than just gaining new skills.
“It is about passion and shunning gender stereotypes that the hospitality sector is limited to women. Some men have a passion for hospitality but tend to shy away from it. I am here to motivate other men to follow their dreams,” he said.
Pat Sivertsen, manager of the centre, said that the course’s main objective is to empower unemployed women and locals to explore their hospitality talents and facilitate suitable, stable employment through its Employment Bureau.
The centre, supported by local companies, also places the students for a two-week internship at various establishments to expose them to a real-work environment, which is critical for preparation and gaining hands-on experience.
“Many trainees, who come from vulnerable backgrounds or have low levels of education gain confidence, professional and leadership skills in the field. Some secured jobs, others opened businesses and create employment for others. It is a joy to see them become independent,” she said.
Although the centre was also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains committed to skills development to empower locals, said Sivertsen.
“Although the number of trainees reduced over the last two years due to the pandemic, and some establishments where most trainees would be employed, we hope to train over 250 students this year,” Sivertsen said. (Xinhua)