The art of eating is continuously being changed by a number of professional and creative chefs, which has in turn increased the demand for excellent services in food production. This trend was concretised by the management of Fontes Foundation through the launch of the catering course on the 5th of February 2018. This course aims to benefit the single mothers and youth of the local community.
As an Fredskorpset (FK) exchange participant, I am privileged to be in charge of the catering course at the Youth Centre. On the FK exchange I have not only gained skills and new experiences but I have also been able to share these experiences and skills with the youth of FYC. I am on exchange from AMIZERO institute in Rwanda. The exchange aims to share experiences and best practices between the two institutions. This exchange is between the Amizero Institute of Technology and Hospitality in Rwanda and Fontes Foundation Uganda.
Since the introduction of the catering course, a number of single mothers and youth have enrolled. Through the course, they have gained cooking skills which now can be applied in any hospitality business, thus enabling them to earn a living. The first intake started on the 5th of February 2018 and ended on the 5th of July 2018. A industry attachment will follow, giving the students the opportunity to add expert practical experience to their skills acquired at the Youth Centre.
“Catering is a course that teaches someone how to cook or prepare different types of dishes. Thanks to Fontes, we have been able to take part in this course giving us the opportunity to become chefs in hotels and restaurants or even be self employed. The benefit of such a course is that it is easy to start and begin to earn a living, as all you need are the necessary skills. Through this course, many from outside and within the Bunga area have been able to improve on our standards of living. We are now capable of setting up small pastry and snack businesses as we now have the required skills to do so. Catering businesses have low start-up costs, meaning that capital is not the main challenge as in other businesses. Previously I had the capital but not the skills to start my own business, now thanks to Fontes I can begin my own catering business. Additionally, through the certificates which we will receive on successfully completing the course, we will be able to find jobs in already established restaurants and hotels. Many of us also hope to begin our own restaurants.”
This year I was fortunate enough to be selected to participate in the FK exchange programme. The exchange programme is a 6-month placement between two partner organizations, which is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As Fontes Foundation partner organization is Amizero Institute of Technology and Hospitality, my placement was at their head office in Kayonza district in Rwanda. The institution offers vocational training for young people who have not completed secondary education.
During my time with Amizero, I had the opportunity to get involved in the institution’s youth training centre and develop digital tools for the institution. My job responsibilities included setting up a student database to monitor current and past students, facilitating capacity building sessions at the youth training centre and helping students connect with tech and start-up companies in Rwanda. While I was at Amizero I was able to apply my knowledge gained at Fontes Youth Centre through the Single Mothers Programme to help set up a child corner room in Kayonza where children could rest and play while their mothers attended training sessions.
Being part of the FK exchange programme was an enriching experience as I got to develop my skills, work with inspiring youth and build relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds. My time as a FK participant went beyond my expectations and I grew as a person both personally and professionally. Having return back home to Uganda, I look forward to sharing my experience with the Fontes team.
For the past 6 months Fontes Foundation has been lucky to have Serge Iradukunda from Rwanda working for us as part of his FK exchange programme. Before joining the programme, Serge worked as an Administrative and Finance Assistant at Amizero Institute of Technology and Hospitality (AMITH) in Eastern Province of Rwanda. I sat down with Serge last week to talk about his experience of joining the FK exchange programme and working for Fontes Foundation.
What made you decide to participate in the FK exchange programme?
I decided to join the exchange programme because I wanted to experience a new culture, improve my English language skills, expand my social circle and gain work experience abroad.
How was it to work for Fontes Foundation?
I really enjoyed working in a friendly and different environment with wonderful colleagues from all over the world. During my period at Fontes Foundation I have been involved in various activities, including organising capacity building workshops and events, planning and coordinating outreach activities in different areas of Kampala, organising Fontes first ever career day, which was a great success, and teaching at Fontes Youth Centre. What I like about Fontes is that the organisation offers personal growth and development opportunities during the programme as well as the chance to learn how to think outside the box.
What is your best memory you have from your time with Fontes Foundation?
I really enjoyed teaching at Fontes Youth Centre in accountancy. The students were great and I liked the way they were interested in the subjects I taught and asking challenging and sometimes funny questions about financial accounting and accounting principles.
What will you take away from your experience?
This 6-month exchange programme has been an experience I will never forget. My time at Fontes has been a learning experience, both personal and professional. It has shaped me as a person and I have gained new skills and knowledge that I would not have had if I had not participated in this programme. Thanks to this programme, I have grown as a person.
Fontes Foundation would like to thank Serge for his contribution to the team, and wish him best of luck in his future endeavours.
FK Norway is a Norwegian Government agency working to promote international and mutual learning. About 600 participants go on exchange each year through partners in Norway and countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Fontes Foundation strives to constantly review and improve its organizational processes, as well as provide educational opportunities for its employees. These two aims were combined in a workshop set up by our Fredskorpset (FK) South-South exchange participant Serge Iradukunda. Luckily, we were able to host Marit Blaak, who works as consultant for educational organisations in Uganda and is a PhD candidate at the University of Groeningen.
Marit sought to ignite a discussion on best teaching practices at Potentiam Youth Development Centre by having us reflect upon the diverse backgrounds and merits of our students as well as different learning types and how we deal with them in class. Thereafter, she asked us to come up with a common vision for the students and asked how we could adjust our teaching to more efficiently reach these objectives. The facilitators were glad to be given a platform to share their different teaching methods, discuss various approaches and voice challenges they face.
The following session focused on what we need to change on an institutional level to make sure we reach the goals we set for our students and ourselves. Next to an improvement in infrastructure, we discussed how we could strengthen cooperation in our team and how we could facilitate the sharing of information among team members to create a more open organizational culture.
The event was a success and Serge was delighted to have been given the opportunity to improve Fontes’ organizational structure and his own teaching skills. “I effectively learned in a compressed day what I could usually learn in a week. Marit was able to take the complex and make it simple. I now have a much better understanding on how to identify learners and develop practical facilitation techniques for different types of learners.
Serge giving the closing remarks on the successful capacity building
To develop young leaders and increase capacity in various organisations, Fredskorpset (FK), the Norwegian Peace Corps, conducts a South-South youth exchange programme. Fontes Foundation has been taking part in this project for a number of rounds now, exchanging employees with our Rwandan partner organisation for periods of six months. This term, we are happy to have Serge Iradukunda as a member of our team, who is supporting us as Programme Administrator and Accounting Assistant. Here are his thoughts on the exchange.
MY EXPERIENCE IN FK EXCHANGE PROGRAMM SO FARâ€¦.
It all starts somewhere. You pack your bags, you say goodbye, you forget at least three things that are important and you get on a plane! To fly away from what you have known as your home and your whole life.
“This Exchange is an experience never to be forgotten. It is shaping part of my character, knowledge, skills and experience and changing my view on life. I am having the best times of my life here in Uganda and at Fontes Foundation Uganda especially.”
My experience so far can be summed up in three main aspects:
Career goal: The exchange is helping me decide on my future, who and what I want to be. Through taking every opportunity, embracing the culture, making new lifelong connections and improving my language skills. Additionally, I get the chance to gather valuable professional experience that will be of great use for my professional future.
Personal growth: This exchange programme is giving me greater awareness of my identity. I am now always thinking about things from a broader point of view. My world has been expanded through intercultural interactions and communication, as well as a new working environment. This helps me grow as a person.
Gaining new lifelong friendships: The exchange allows me to form new friendships with my fellow FK participants, my fellow workers at Fontes Foundation Uganda and people in the community I live in.
We are happy to see how well Serge is settling in Kampala. Beyond that, we are delighted to watch him grow as a person during the exchange, at the same time as we are benefiting as an organization from his perspective.