A Need for Training

It has now been a few weeks of Monday through Friday physical work. The results are evident: the huge visitor’s center has been painted, garden beds made, many trees planted and an oven has been built, twice.

One thing our group lacks is training. A month ago, the team built a gorgeous, brick, outdoor oven outside the visitor’s center. Once the company is running it will be used to cook food for the tourists. A typical (not overly violent) rainstorm came and knocked down all the hours of work. This story repeated itself a few weeks later.

I do not understand why we did not seek advice (ideally) from inside the community or hire an outside expert to teach how to – not build – a properly constructed oven.

There have been other similar cases where it is apparent that more training is needed. A member of our team started using a brand new professional weed cutter and broke it within twenty minutes because he did not follow the manual of how to put it together properly. When painting, a lack of skill and perhaps patience caused a few to get white paint on the newly stained wood roof. We have had to prematurely throw out new brushes because they were not cleaned after daily use. The list goes on.

These are all mistakes anyone could make. Especially the majority of 18-year-old macho boys, which is what of our team mainly consists of. But there is a definite need for training. But who is to a) tell the team that we need it; b) give firmer instruction; c) hire a trainer?

This issue has to be treated delicately. If too much instruction or tips are given then the boys will get frustrated or even insulted and may not pay attention or come to work as often. It is even trickier because the boys are not being paid. The idea is their payment for this work will come in the future, as the company is to be in their hands forever. Continuing with that point, we should make it clear that it would be in their interest to learn these skills for future maintenance since that will be their reasonability. But without a current wage for the work they are doing of course it would be hard for many to put in the extra effort now. We need to demonstrate that learning these skills properly will also enhance their employability if they choose to not work for the company in the future. Most importantly, how much we admire their drive, hard work and all they have completed needs to be recognized and articulated to them first.

I think we are focusing too much on the physical completion of the visitors center and have since abandoned the very important meetings on the organizational part of the company. The issue of training needs to be addressed at these meetings. And throughout this blog post I have noticed that I have used the term ‘we’ in finding solutions to the capacity problem. By ‘we’ I mean the blanco coordinator of the donation and the two indigenous coordinators and I suppose a touch of my opinion and advice. But what is really important is that the indigenous coordinators, Raul and Poli, are the ones to take the lead on the discussion.


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