Thursday, July 16, 2009

Center of Hope Graduates

I am developing a fundraising brochure for the Vocational Center of Hope and wanted to meet graduates and their employers. Today I met four graduates and visited their work places.

A young woman named Emerance is a cook at CARWASH; quite literally a carwash but it has a brilliant garden bar that serves some of the best Bar B Q in Kigali. She did her internship there and they hired her the day she received her certificate. We met the manger of the restaurant, Walter and he said he would take more than one student this year because Emerance was so good in the kitchen. Her English is poor so the kitchen work is all she can do but what he really needs is trained wait staff who speak English. He suggested that the program at least double the English component. One of the young men, Robert started a bakery with two other students after their internships. Robert’s English is very good and he asked Walter how much more a waiter could make than a cook and he said at least double and if you are very good 4x as much. That really opened the eyes of the four and Robert asked to interview for a waiters position. He has an interview with Walter tomorrow and I will let you know if he gets the job.

John and Yassin were the other graduates who started the bakery that we visited after the CARWASH. They specialize in special occasion cakes; you can see a beautifully decorated cake for a Birthday party tonight. I asked how much they charge for a cake like that and they said 5000RWf or about $9.00. I asked them how they determined the pricing because it seemed too cheap. I will send them a website that gives a formula to help them cost out their products. They also made beignets, small muffins and samosas. I bought a few of each and they were all very good. I have ordered special occasion cake and will serve to my expat and embassy friends. Hopefully it will be very good and I can drum up some business for them.

It was inspiring to spend time with them and communicate as best I could. I believe by developing these materials and making more connections for the alumni and Executive Director, the programs will get better every year.

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