Hi everyone, my name is George and I’m 30 years old. I was born in Kisumu County, Kenya. I currently live in Nairobi and work as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with a leading health organisation.

I come from a modest family and getting access to education has been a challenge ever since I was a child. I had to pay for most of my studies, working many jobs at a time to cover my fees.

After finishing high school, I worked for three years as a primary school teacher, and in 2007, I started volunteering with the leading aid charity St John’s Ambulance (I still volunteer with them now!). The volunteer position included first aid training as well as offering an opportunity for me to develop my leadership skills. The position also led me to develop an even greater passion for humanitarian and community work.  Due to my hard work at St John’s, I received a scholarship from Hopkins Hospital in 2012 and I trained to become an Emergency Medical Technician.

In September 2014 I was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which affected both my life and career. I had to stop working for a whole year and focus on my health. This was a difficult period for me, but luckily the medications were effective and I managed to find some part-time jobs with humanitarian organisations such as the Kenya Red Cross.

In 2016 I decided to apply for an Emergency Medical Technician position at a leading health organisation and was offered the job. During that same period, I was looking for training opportunities to improve my skills when I came across a Facebook advert for the Academy’s eLearning platform, Kaya. I registered straight away and signed up for a massive open online course (MOOC) on Managing in the humanitarian sector, which I found extremely useful.

Since then I have completed the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) course, as well as the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) eLearning pathway. One of the main challenges I faced whilst studying was the lack of an internet connexion and any IT equipment. I even had to borrow my cousin’s computer to complete the DRRM course!

There are many natural hazards in East Africa including droughts, floods and landslides, and a lot of work still needs to be done to better prepare communities to respond to these disasters. We need to raise awareness and teach communities about flash floods and irrigation schemes, as well as the link between deforestation and landslides.

I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities provided by Kaya and the Academy, as I feel like it has given me the missing skills I needed to help my community. The Disaster Risk Reduction and Management course has been especially useful as I regularly visit communities in my own time to raise awareness of landslides in deforested areas, or to teach people living in the slums about the importance of having fire extinguishers.

During my career as a humanitarian, I have witnessed a lack of training and capacity building in staff which has an impact on the work that national and international organisations are able to do. Some of these issues could be easily solved by online training, such as mandatory courses on the Core Humanitarian Standard and Humanitarian Principles.

I’m going to carry on learning on the Kaya platform, and hope that there will soon be a course on Conflict Management as this is an area I’m very interested in. An app would also be great!

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