The PROJECT-E Hospitality Institute (PEHI) turns five years old! At the beginning of October in 2015, the Hotel Management School in Addis Ababa was opened as a training center for young women, who, thanks to the combination of basic courses in the hotel sector and social skills, are now making their way towards a promising professional future in the Ethiopian hotel and tourism industry. On the occasion of the anniversary we want to look back on the beginnings of the project and get to the bottom of its development. In the next weeks we would like to look forward to the PEHI’s birthday together with you, the countdown is already running! In order to do so we want to let PROJECT-E-Alumni, who were involved in the development of the institute, take us on a journey back to five years ago.
This week, Martina Keller will be our first interview partner. She joined PROJECT-E back in 2011 and has, among others as a member of the PROJECT-E Management Board, actively participated in the work for the AOSTD Secretary College. The College was the first project of PROJECT-E, handed over to our local partner organization Selam Children’s Village in October 2015. We spoke to her on the phone and she told us how the transition to a new project was initiated and what role she played in it.
“I can tell you a bit about it. Well, I was at PROJECT-E during the period of upheaval, which means during the time when the first project was handed over to the local partner organization and we started a new project. But that’s probably interesting for you, because you now work for the Hospitality Institute, but I was still involved in the AOSTD Secretary College (formerly NLCC), the first project of PROJECT-E, which is now run by the Selam association.
I was in Ethiopia for the first time in 2011 from August to November, and worked at the Secretary College when the campus was still in Akaki. I was responsible for the conception of the curriculum, the organisation of various events and looked at with which partner institutions and companies the project could be further developed. The other international volunteers and I worked very closely together with the Ethiopian team. Every day the college bus picked us up at our accommodation and together with the teachers we were taken to the college, because it was quite a long way to Akaki at the time. The cooperation with the teachers was really close and valuable, so we quickly realised that it all depends on their experience and practical knowledge. Our approach was focused on the practical delivery of the course content, including relevant work experience internships and language training. This enabled us to design a holistic curriculum. It became clear that implementing structures that had been considered in Europe would not work. The local staff and their know-how rather have to be involved in the project and its development so that it works out well afterwards.
After my return to Germany, I took over the supervision of the Education Department, supervised the volunteers who went abroad to Ethiopia at that time and planned all the activities in the educational area. In 2014, I was on the Management Board for one year. During this time, we made the decision as a team to tackle another project. Together with Agata, our Country Representative in Addis Ababa, we drew up a business plan and looked at how a new project could work. The Secretary College was still running, but the handover to Selam was already pending. This was actually a good thing, because it is nice to have the local partners managing the project and to achieve its integration into local structures in the long term.
Now there have been strategy weekends in Europe, during which a vote was held on the sector that the new project should be active in. This was preceded by a market analysis, so we talked to different institutions on site to find out what was really needed. I left PROJECT-E in 2015, but went back to Ethiopia in autumn and visited the new Hospitality Institute when Livia Röthlisberger was Country Representative.
It is really exciting to see how PROJECT-E has developed since 2007. For an NGO that is active on the ground, but that also works from Europe, this is a tremendous achievement. After I was in Addis for the first time as a volunteer for PROJECT-E, I was there again with the German society for international cooperation (GIZ) and saw which impact can be generated by such a relatively small project. It has always been and still is nice to see that things are going so great!”