By Foday Moriba Conteh
As part of their efforts towards empowering young women within their operational communities in the country, Meya Mining, has successful concluded a Five-Week Women’s Empowerment Skills Training for 14 young women in Cake Making, Baking and Event Decoration. The Five-Week training was climaxed with a well-attended certification ceremony held on Friday 1st September, 2023 at Koakoyima Town, Kono District, Eastern Sierra Leone.
The training, which happens to be the first phase of this initiative, saw the selection and enrolment of fourteen young women, all aged below 30.The rigorous selection process ensured that beneficiaries met specific criteria, including residence within the 500-meter blast radius in Koakoyima village, a minimum pg five-year residency in the area, confirmation from the local chief and ages ranging from 18 to 35.
Speaking during the certification ceremony, the Chief of Koakoyima Town, Chief Saffia Doe expressed appreciation to Meya Mining for the initiative which he described as not only important but a very laudable venture towards empowering young women of Koakoyima Town.
He said that training women in various skills including cake making, baking and event decoration, will enable them to generate income and contribute to their families’ financial well-being further underscoring that such an economic empowerment reduces poverty and increases household stability.
Chief Saffia Doe encouraged Meya Mining to continue the initiative for the benefit of the young women in the community and further appealed to the company to also consider the youths in the community in terms of offering them jobs in their company.
He concluded by assuring the company of the community support towards its operations.
Presenting a report on the training, the Stakeholder & Community Relations Manager, Catherine Greenwood, said that on August 1st, 2023, Meya Mining launched an impactful Women’s Empowerment Skills Training Program, marking its inaugural phase. This pilot phase centred on Cake Making, Baking and Event Decoration.
She said that the first phase of the initiative saw the selection and enrolment of fourteen young women, all aged below 30 and that the rigorous selection process ensured that beneficiaries met specific criteria, including residence within the 500-meter blast radius in Koakoyima village, a minimum five-year residency in the area, confirmation from the local chief, and ages ranging from 18 to 35.
She noted that the comprehensive training spanned a period of five weeks, with sessions conducted five days a week, from Monday to Friday. Class hours extended from 9:00am to 4:00pm, stating that to facilitate this transformative journey, Meya Mining engaged three seasoned trainers, two specializing in Cake Making and one focusing on Event Decoration.
She pointed out that the training curriculum was thoughtfully designed, with 10% of the content dedicated to theoretical concepts encompassing basic cake making, baking, and event decoration principles, while the remaining 90% was hands-on practical experience covering sessions which include Introduction to kitchen Safety Guidelines, emphasis on personal hygiene practices, exploration of various cake types (sponge, butter, etc.), in-depth understanding of the importance of various ingredients, basic cake assembly and filling methodologies etc.
“Additionally, the program integrated fabric manipulation techniques for crafting backdrop showpieces suitable for various events. Throughout the training, daily lunches were provided from Monday to Friday. Stringent hygiene standards were upheld, and an additional Training Center Coordinator was appointed to oversee daily student attendance logging, facility cleanliness, prompt issue reporting and maintenance of the visitors’ register,” she disclosed.
She maintained that the program unfolded seamlessly, devoid of significant challenges and with abundant training materials ensured an uninterrupted learning experience, further stating that the students exhibited unwavering dedication and collaborative learning during this period and acquired proficiency in various cake mixture techniques and are now adept at independently decorating cakes with minimal guidance.
She acknowledged the dedication and hard work of both the training staff and the trainees, whose commitment has led to the outstanding achievement. She, however, concluded by extending heartfelt gratitude to Meya Mining Management for making this life-transforming opportunity possible towards the empowerment of these women in the community especially during these challenging times.
On his part, the Chief Financial Officer, Meya Mining Limited, Kobus Ronge , stated that a responsible company they deemed it fit to organize the skills training for the young women within their affected community in order to empower them.
He said the company is very proud that students exhibited their unwavering dedication during the training period, adding that the skills training is not only beneficial for the young women but also for their families, communities and society as a whole as it contributes to economic growth and overall human development.
Kobus Ronge used the opportunity to encourage the beneficiaries to make use of the skills and knowledge acquired during the training, urging them not to limit themselves by their thinking.
He expressed appreciation to the Stakeholder & Community Relations Manager, Catherine Greenwood for her commitment and dedication in making the training a success. He ,however, assured all that the company will continue to create such initiatives for residents of their affected communities
One of the trainees, Fanta Mansaray, commended Meya Mining Limited for believing in them, for investing in their future, and for being a beacon of hope and opportunity.
She said that through the training, they have not only acquired practical skills but also a renewed sense of confidence and purpose, stating that it is not just about learning new techniques; it’s about the doors that have been opened for them.
“Your support has not only empowered us but has the potential to uplift countless other women in our community. We are committed to make use of the skills we have acquired in order to make a difference in the lives of others,” she assured.
Parents of the trainees also applauded Meya Mining Limited for empowering their children with necessary skills in cake making, baking, and event decoration.
Climaxing the ceremony was the official certification by the Chief Financial Officer, Meya Mining Limited, Kobus Ronge during which all trainees received Certificates of Achievement. This was followed by the presentation of start-up kits, including equipment and cash, to support their future endeavors.
Meya Mining’s Women’s Empowerment Skills Training program is not only a testament to their commitment to community development but also a significant stride toward empowering young women in Koakoyima Town, ultimately creating opportunities for economic growth and self-reliance.