Presented by K1 Britannia Foundation

Back in January, K1 Britannia Foundation partnered with National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) to provide a fully sponsored six-month carpentry course – courtesy of Holland America Line and The Dutch Disaster Fund.

The course is MIC Institute of Technology certified, where youths decided to take on the challenge to learn the ins and outs of carpentry. Fast-forward to today, and the students are on their way to graduation and are sharing their experiences thus far.

We asked them the following questions:

* Why did you decide to start the course and what did you hope to gain from it?

* Were there any challenges and how did you choose to overcome them?

* Is there anything in particular that you really like about carpentry?

* What has been the biggest lesson or the most value you’ve received and how would you apply it to your future endeavours?

Edwin Schoop

The reason why I decided to start the course is because I wanted a change of environment, from the hospitality industry. I was looking to gain the full experience and knowledge carpentry had to offer. I was actually tagged in a post on Facebook regarding the course and I followed up right away.

The only challenges I experienced were doing various different cuts on certain materials; I overcame those challenges by practicing and verifying cuts in my spare time.

I learned a lot of different skills and techniques that I can use and teach others. It really is a hands-on craft that requires understanding the importance of focus.

It was a really great experience for me because of the variety of skills and lessons learned, including having good communication skills and relationships with your team members. I would like to further gain more knowledge in the carpentry field by pursuing the level 2 programme. I hope to be as great as my instructor, Mr. Tinto.

Stacy Elias

I decided to start this carpentry course when I saw an ad from a volunteer of K1 on social media, requesting interested persons to sign up.

There were a few challenges, one being that this course was intended for the duration of one year, and we had to complete it within six months. However, we had one of the best instructors from MIC Trinidad, who worked diligently with us to ensure that we had all the help we needed to push forward.

What I enjoyed about carpentry and the construction field in general is that you learn that every element relies on another to be completed. For example, a carpenter building a house would need to create the framework for the mason to be able to cast a column with concrete. It goes much deeper, and it is an appreciation I have for what it takes to build dream homes and more.

The most valuable lesson I received from the course is that you should always be open minded in trying new ventures and it’s never too late to learn a new skill.

Jeremy Hodge

I decided to start the course because I received a message from my cousin who is a Coast Guard Officer and colleague of Alan, who is also a programme manager at K1. He had heard from Alan about the course and mentioned it to me. My cousin thought it was a perfect opportunity, and starting the course would make him and my family proud, all while gaining skills to help rebuild the island.  

I handled most tasks well, but if I had to choose, I would say my challenges were learning how to use the different equipment for the various projects.

I really enjoy being able to do things that most people can’t do, such as carpentry. It's a great feeling to measure, square and cut something, put it together, and it fits perfectly! It comes out exactly the way you planned, and makes me feel like a perfectionist.

I didn’t have any prior skills in carpentry, but now I can say I gained the confidence to build a wall frame, floor frame, deck and many more. Learning a skill that can help the island in its rebuilding process is of great value and I hope to get a job in the field, or continue to level 2.

Xhenji Wyatt Cedeño

I was job hunting and took a very long time to find work. I needed to find a way to support myself, and my mother put me in touch with Malaika of K1. I grew up working with my dad in the warehouse, doing various projects so I had an interest in carpentry. The course was an opportunity to learn in-depth about carpentry and its terms.

The biggest challenge was working with different personalities and styles of working. After speaking to our instructor, Mr. Tinto, he gave me the advice I needed to overcome that. He said we must be open to how others manoeuvre and act, and I took time to really observe others.

I really enjoy the carpentry field, I consider myself to be quite adventurous and open to challenges. The course allowed me to be free and autonomous in my work, pace and style. We weren’t micromanaged, and I enjoyed the freedom to be flexible.

The course was different from anything I’ve ever done. I am grateful for it because I feel I can do anything. Sounds crazy but completing this has given me that confidence. In my near future, I see myself rebuilding my kitchen, and helping others in the community, seeing there are people still in need after Irma.

I am also happy to go back to NIPA and learn a new skill if K1 has another opportunity. Although I may or may not pursue carpentry, this was an opportunity to start somewhere with myself.