On the Frontline(s) of learning the project management ropes in Zimbabwe
Project management is one of these things one can learn anywhere, and any way – but how to learn it better than by doing it? Humana People to People, always favouring a hands-on approach, has run its Frontline Institute in Zimbabwe since 1993, and with it has created a special place for its key employees to learn project management, leadership, and community development. Sustainable agriculture, being a core component of many of HPP’s programmes all over the world, is also part of the 1-year-programme. Currently, Ms Phaivan Seesakda and Mr Bee Vang are HPP Laos’ seventh and eighth staff members to go through the Frontline experience. They left Laos for Zimbabwe in December 2018.
Now, half a year into the course, Phaivan and Bee Vang are learning new skills everyday side by side with other HPP employees from all over the world. Their fellow students are from countries as diverse as Brazil, China, Mozambique, Malawi, DRC, Angola, Zambia, Namibia – and many more. Every year, around 70 women and men take part in the Frontline course, and they return home a different person. Phaivan and Bee Vang report how in the beginning they struggled with the language barrier as all the classes are conducted in English. They attended a preparatory language class in Zimbabwe before the actual thematical courses started. Now, Phaivan manages the Institute’s own piggery and the students’ boarding arrangements, while Bee Vang is in charge of the gardens as the Garden Manager. He is responsible for supplying a variety of organic fruit and vegetables for the school’s own consumption as well as for sale at the market. Apart from furthering their already substantive skills in conservation agriculture, as both worked in this field with HPP Laos before they left, Bee Vang and Phaivan have been learning about aquafarming, logistics, economics and financial management, as well as many interpersonal skills such as communications, cross-cultural understanding, and public speaking. “Here at Frontline, the environment is so friendly. Everyone is always happy to help each other, and always ready to learn more, and these things make this place very special”, they say.
Very soon, Phaivan, Beevang and their classmates are in for another adventure: In the second half of their year at Frontline, the students embark on a cycling tour through Zimbabwe’s and neighbouring nations’ countryside. Cycling around 1,000km each on average, the students have the simple yet challenging task of finding and implementing their own development projects in rural villages and putting to the test the knowledge they have learnt. In previous years, Frontline students constructed water systems, initiated tree nurseries, and conducted health campaigns.
We wish Phaivan and Beevang good luck for this exciting opportunity, and we are looking forward to seeing them back home again soon!