Making strides towards the future

“I want to be a detective! I want to find out why the things that happen here happen …” Julius Njogu has “always” known this. Then Islamist extremists attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on 21 September 2013. Julius was fascinated by the work of the forensic investigators, with the public case having a big effect on him personally. His career aspirations grew. The 19-year-old took up his studies at the University of Nairobi (UON) in May 2014 – Criminology, majoring in Forensics.

Julius is one of 18 pupils of the first class of the Mothers’ Mercy Home (MMH) supported by Cargo Human Care (CHC) in Kenya. Since 2010, the orphans there have also been able to pursue secondary school education for the first time thanks to the aid organisation. The young adults finished school at the end of last year and are now leaving the home and making strides towards the future. Loise would like to become a chef. She really enjoyed helping out in the kitchen at the MMH and looking over the shoulder of the chef. Paul, the handyman, is training to become an electrician. Grace sees her future as a beauty and hair designer, John wants to produce videos and Faith would like to “become the best finance manager in the world.”

Well advised with the “exit strategy”

In order to ensure that the young adults are not thrown in the deep end when transitioning to independent life, Cargo Human Care supports its charges using what is known as an “exit strategy”. “We focus on career advice, help with self-evaluation and encouraging initiative. But the link to their own original family and orientation into Kenyan society also play an important role,”  explained Werner Hildebrand, Recruiting Team Leader at Lufthansa Passage. Hildebrand has advised the MMH team on the development of the “exit strategy” in several project assignments and helped with its introduction. “The sustainability of our  projects is really important to Cargo Human Care. We want to give the orphans at the Mothers’ Mercy Home a good basis for their future careers. Education is absolutely key to this,” emphasised founder and board member Fokko Doyen, captain and MD-11F fleet chief at Lufthansa Cargo.

However, not all school-leavers have planned their futures as meticulously and, most importantly, realistically as Julius Njogu, who is ideally set up for the world of work thanks to his good school grades and a three-month work placement. “Some school-leavers find it very difficult to choose a career,” reported Werner Hildebrand. “On the one hand, they would most like to become accountants and go to the office in a fancy suit, report groundbreaking news as TV presenters or fight for greater justice as lawyers. But their profile often doesn’t meet the specific requirements and skills for these careers. It can take time for this to be realised. And then plan B is required.”

Plan B also leads to the desired outcome

This is how things have gone for Nancy Kefa, who wanted to study law but didn’t have the necessary grades. Her plan B: Nancy is training to become a social worker in order to “bring different communities together and further develop our country.” But she hasn’t lost sight of her long-term goal of studying law: “I will do my best to achieve my goals. I’d like to have a job in which I can realise my potential, a role which is respected and recognised. I am really grateful to Cargo Human Care for giving me this opportunity!”

Cargo Human Care provides full and partial grants to help the young trainees with their education and living costs. Bills can easily add up to EUR 200 per month as they get started on the career ladder. Usually EUR 30 per child is enough during schooling. “The amount of positive feedback we get here is incredible”, said a delighted Werner Hildebrand, referring to the generosity of donations fundamental to Cargo Human Care being in a position to support all school-leavers as they find their feet. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether they’re powering ahead ambitiously in the overtaking lane or achieving their career aspirations via a more circuitous route.