Sunday, June 14, 2009

Life at Yehu and CHOICE Humanitarian

Work has been interesting. I've been learning a lot about what it's like to be a non-profit company that is still trying to grow and be self-sufficient. Yehu has made incredible progress over the past couple years. There is just still so much to be done, but who will do the work? The corporate staff is all stretched so thin. They work long days and come in on the weekends. (Although you would never know when you talk to them - they are all so kind and I've seen no outward displays of any kind of stress that they're all no doubt feeling.)

Yehu needs more employees who are qualified, but they just can't afford to pay the kind of salary that would attract said employees. And at the same time, they've got some heavily aggressive expansion plans over the next couple years. Who is going to market this to new potential clients, and who is going to accommodate these new clients when everyone is already so busy? Enter the interns. This year we're focusing on solidifying the strategic plan, and next year they'll be more marketing/communications-based.

Yehu is definitely making the most of having access to educated, free labor. I've been keeping very busy with working on my own projects, and with helping the stats guy, Omar, to get caught up. One of the big things I'm focusing on here is making processes more efficient - using shortcuts where they're available, eliminating steps that aren't necessary, and so on.

I'm learning that the corporate office may have some inefficiencies, but one of the biggest problems is getting those in branches out in the bush to use technology. They all have access to Excel and have been given forms they simply have to fill in, but they still turn in handwritten numbers. Perhaps they don't trust the technology, perhaps they just don't want to have to deal with the learning curve and they're comfortable with the way it is. I'm hoping to make it out to some villages to do a little training with these people, to help them to get more comfortable with what they have. Plus, I think meeting with people in the villages will be one of the best ways to incentivize me to keep going - I'll be able to really connect what I'm doing with where it's going.

With that in mind, today I visited Samburu (north of Mombasa) with people from CHOICE Humanitarian, which works sort of in conjunction with Yehu. They're working on the communications aspect - interviewing people in villages for videos they'll put on their website. I think especially with my generation, this is one of the best ways to get the word out and get people involved. It creates such a personal touch, and lets people see exactly who is being affected by their efforts, and how. It's exciting, to be involved on such a grassroots level.

I'm including some pictures from my visit to Samburu. My two biggest take-aways were that these people are all extremely hard-working, and that they are all so happy.

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