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Student to work as project leader in Kenya

Carrying out five development projects in Africa as a student. A dream come true for Tilburg second-year student of Construction Management Nils Huiden.

Nils will be setting off to Kenya in June to work as a project leader on various construction projects there together with the local population. ‘I think it will be extremely hectic. There are no trained joiners there as we have here in the Netherlands.’

Nils will be carrying out a work placement at the company of lecturer Michiel Smits, which specialises in development cooperation projects in Africa. ‘A pioneer role’, says Smits. ‘I came up with the idea of using students in the projects a while ago. He is the company’s first trainee.’ They will be travelling to Kenya together in late June. The lecturer will leave after four weeks, and Nils can then take charge of the projects on site until December.

A dream come true
It is a dream come true for Nils. He has always wanted to work in Africa. It was for this reason that he took the plunge and applied to Smits on spec. The student will be placed in charge of five construction projects in Mount Elgon, Kenya. A dental unit at a school where children learn all about the importance of brushing their teeth, two staff residences for a hospital, a chemistry laboratory for a secondary school, the construction of a church and guest rooms. Nils says, ‘And all of this for a third-year work placement. It’s amazing, what more could a student want!’

Local facilities will be used wherever possible during the construction process. Nils told us, ‘We are going to be working with local people and local materials. This will ensure that the flow of funds remains in the community.’

Experiments will also be carried out with construction methods and construction materials as preparation for future projects. According to Smits, ‘The goal is to preserve the self-reliance of the local community. We want to experiment to examine which materials and construction techniques can be used in the future. Materials need to come from the immediate living environment and the construction techniques need to fit in with traditional local construction methods.’

More students to travel to Kenya
The plan is for various students to form teams in the Netherlands and travel to Kenya in the future. There they will work with a family to design and construct the family’s home. The first student trips will be organised in the next academic year. Anyone who is interested can contact Michiel Smits.

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