When PMI Switzerland Chapter Karolina Letowska agreed to lead project management training in Kenya, she could not have anticipated the unique challenges and rewards that she would encounter. Karolina was inspired to fund her own travel to Kimilili, Kenya, to work with the Community Breakthrough Support Mission (CBSM) School for orphaned and vulnerable youth.
CBSM is a registered charity organization based in Switzerland. The organization, which is managed entirely by volunteers, has established a primary and secondary school providing education for 800 orphans and vulnerable children in Kimilili and Western Kenya. The school operates under precarious circumstances, such as limited access to basic necessities like running water and electricity, yet still manages to serve its students. CBSM provides housing for 30 orphan boys on the school site, and all 800 of the student attendees receive a lunch every day.
Karolina, with strong support from the PMI Switzerland Chapter, recognized that this was a school with extremely limited resources, and many projects to complete. She knew the teachers would benefit from learning how to ensure school projects met the students’ and teachers’ needs, and yet were delivered under budget. She leveraged PMIEF Learning Resources to deliver her two-day training to the 35 staff members at the CBSM School.
Karolina shared the story about one of the school’s teachers, Elizabeth. Elizabeth walks an hour in each direction to reach the school every day to deliver education fundamentals to her pre-school students. As she began to understand what project management really could do for the CBSM staff, she posed a question: “Is it a project to build a new staff room?” Karolina says yes, this is one of many projects that the staff and volunteers could complete.
The training, which took place over two days, was not as smooth to deliver as Karolina had hoped. She explained, “During preparation for the training, the electricity went off so the copying job could not be finished: on day one, two teachers had to share the printed materials until the electricity [was restored].” Karolina also had to complete her training using only a chalkboard and chalk, as no other teaching implements, like computers or projectors, were available.
As part of the training, Karolina led a discussion with the teachers, who shared that they often struggle with planning and managing their scarce resources. “Teaching them project management principles can help to improve many aspects of their daily lives,” Karolina believes. The Switzerland Chapter and Karolina have plans to continue their relationship with CBSM and look for future ways to support the Kenyan school.
Are you inspired by Karolina and the PMI Switzerland Chapter’s story? Consider leveraging a resource from PMIEF’s Learning Resources Library to deliver a project management program for social good at a school or nonprofit organization in your community.
PMI Switzerland Chapter volunteer Karolina Letowska utilized PMIEF resources to teach Kenyan teachers at the CBSM School learn how project management practices can improve the school’s efficiency.