Helen began life with Challenges Worldwide through the ICS Programme in Zambia January 2016 working with her counterparts Emmanuel Muntanga, Edward Lowe and Melissa Hamalambo volunteering in the now growing enterprise Vitalite.
Where is she now?
We noticed Helen’s talent and she was eager to continuing working with us. So, she is now the Challenges Worldwide ICS Programme Manager for Zambia and oversees multiple businesses in Lusaka and Kitwe. Her new position also involves identifying host homes, recruiting businesses for the CW ICS Programme and ensuring there is a mutual benefit for both volunteers and enterprises working together.
What does she do and how did she get there?
Helen ensures that Team Leaders are empowered to lead their teams and is always on the lookout to support Team Leaders and Volunteers. When a Volunteer or Team Leader feels that they don’t have the authority to make recommendations to a business and thinks ‘I’m only a young person, I’m not qualified to say this’. Helen admits that she was the same but also underlines the fact that this is all “part of the process” and is exactly why we provide accredited CMI training to all those who participate in our CW ICS Programme.
Indeed, how to run a business, the tools and how they work, as well as being flexible and having ”open conversation about what we each thought we were good at and how we could work together allowed us to get above and beyond done” were all central to Helen’s success.
Being able to work in a different culture was a crucial experience that demonstrated she was capable of representing and working for Challenges Worldwide in Zambia. Working with people, especially the management of her peers as part of the Media Committee allowed her to demonstrate that she could not only lead people but excel in doing so. Encouraging and supporting others to produce digital content with her counterpart Daniel Zimba was key to exposing Vitalite to the market and highlighting its success to future clients and investors.
When asked, “And when looking back, did you ever think you would end up where you are?”
Helen answered, “No, I never thought I would end up in Zambia”, although, fate as ever has its funny ways. Her Grandfather used to work for a haulage company in Zambia 60 years ago and now they video call each other when Helen goes for a walk down main street Lusaka! A far cry away from working in a land and property company in Newcastle, UK.
We then asked Helen, “What advice would you give to volunteers about to go out on placement?” she insists that she would have given the same points even if she was not overseeing Zambia!
- “Come with an open mind and also an awareness this is not a three month holiday” – yes you will have fun but this is the beginning of the rest of your life. Approximately 85% of our Alumni are working within 6 months after finishing their placement and Approximately 12% go onto further education.
- “Give it 100%” – you will have challenges, information gathering, cross-cultural, not having the amount of time to yourself as usual but then again, nothing worth having is ever easy.
- “Have confidence in your own ability, you might not have a lot of experience but that’s why you’re here” – as Helen said, it’s all part of the process and our team supports everyone who works with us.