I Love My Job with Kemba Nefertiti Jaramogi
I would listen to my friends and colleagues, and just like me there is the everyday vent … basically about hating their jobs. Not just the regular ‘I Hate Mondays’ memes, but actual full on rants!I could tell you now by 10:00 am this Tuesday Luke is going to message the group chat to say ‘My boss is such ah …’. Actually I probably should not quote Luke. Of course I’m sure to respond to the chat with something like ‘OMG !! mine just requested two additional reports by 2:00 pm today ‘.
So you get my point. It is very rare that you meet people that genuinely love their jobs.
It’s because of this, SalariesTT set out on a long and arduous search for someone of the sort, with the objective of motivating and inspiring our readers. It’s during this quest that we discovered Kemba Nefertiti Jaramogi !!!
Kemba is an environmentalist who focuses on transforming lives through environmental educational programmes. We sat down for a one on one with her. Read on.
My name is Kemba Jaramogi and I am the Technical Director here at Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project. I spend a lot of time working on an education outreach programme; schools, primary, tertiary education. I studied International Development with NGO Management.
Q: What aspect of your job do you absolutely love doing?
At Fondes Amandes we do a lot of different things. We have modules. We focus on different types of research projects, education awareness projects. We have things like forest fire prevention where we do community outreach and we do work with students. We try to teach people laws, responsible actions in the garden, around the home. So that is always exciting because a lot of people are not aware of the laws in Trinidad with regards to forest fire prevention. So that is something exciting and interesting.
I am also a trained Fire Fighter by the Fire Services for forest fires. I like to teach the skill as well as when I have to go out in the field and help to manage the team.
One of the things we do here is organic farming. All our seedlings for our reforestation activities are harvest here, the seedlings are set in our organic nursery and then it is planted out in the hills for reforestation. The tree species are mixed. You hear a lot of birds in the background. So you have a lot of fruit bearing trees. Trees that have seeds.
You create that habitat for wild life. So that is always exciting to see a tree start to bear. There are a lot of exciting things.
Also looking at the ecotourism aspect of it. Finding a middle group between education as oppose to doing the ecotourism aspect of it. Where people could just come and enjoy the space, enjoy a walk, go to the river, have a nice time. So because the work is so multi-crown there are so many things to be excited about all the time.
Q: What inspires you to get up each morning and pursue your passion?
What inspires someone to do this kind of work. Because it’s not entirely gratifying when it comes to rewards financially. But sometimes when you decide to take up a cause that is left unattended or not many people in the field to address these types of issues, then you know you’re not wasting your time. And also at the end of every session, workshop, student exchange, you name it, people are then further inspired by the work that you do. And hopefully along the line we would have a generation that is coming up to kind of make that change … baby steps. Whether it is looking at having a more sustainable household, in term of the usage of materials, lights, electricity, what not.
It is also tied into something that my parents started. My dad passed away 23 years this year. It’s a bit emotional yes. I do believe that somebody has to carry on this type of legacy and I really love what I do. I do believe in preserving that side of the legacy to see that work continued. To not have all this work that is done gone up in smoke. It’s something I want to see continued and happening throughout Trinidad and Tobago. Everybody just enjoying the natural environment and keeping it great.
Q: Have you encountered challenges reaching this point in your career?
… There were challenges. Firstly being a young woman and trying to teach grown men how to fight fires. That whole gender role and looking at something that is a typically male dominated field. That was one of the obstacles I had to go about.
Having to help take care of siblings, and then find your career and then balance your social life was also something. You know you’re always trying to find the middle ground as a young person. A party going on but you have to stay and do work. And trying to find purpose.
If it’s meaningful then at the end of the day you feel gratified. It’s not so tedious or difficult.
One of my biggest challenges when I was studying abroad. I had challenges with finances after my scholarship fell through because of the financial crisis. A lot of people were like ‘You know, just come back home’. But I was like ok I’m doing this for myself, let me struggle, raise funds and really see that part of my career finish.
To make sure that I have that stability in terms of education and everybody likes paperwork to go with it.
At every point that I seem to go forwards there is always something that would try to hinder a process. And then going straight into Project Development and Research and looking to do new things to develop this NGO here at Fondes Amandes, different initiatives, funding is always an issue. Funding for salary, funding for resource material, funding for additional staff.
So sometimes it becomes overbearing yes but then sometimes we have really amazing volunteers and it just lifts your spirit because you’re like ok I thought I was alone in this world here and then you have amazing volunteers come along and support you.
Q: What is the best advise that you ca give someone that is unhappy in their career?
Seek some sort of enlightenment or enjoyment. It starts with you.Often it has a party and someone reaches to the party and they’re like ‘This party dead man’. And then there is a person like me, who would walk into the party and say ‘This party dead man’ but I done start to dance and liven up the party. Sometimes it’s an issue of energy. It have a lot of people who wait to feed off of people energy and to have that enjoyment sort of brought towards them, they don’t work for it.
So if you find yourself unfulfilled but you need that security in terms of income, find something to do after work. Find a course. There are so many courses in Trinidad. There are so many people that need help. There are so many people that can simply do with counselling sessions. Sometimes people just need a buddy. Sometimes an old people home can just do with somebody coming to help out in the evening. An NGO like this, we would want volunteers.
So it’s just about seeing what you are passionate about and just giving of yourself.
A lil two hours a week. Just reach out to groups and find some cause that you are passionate about.
Q: What’s next, where can we see Kemba Jaramogi in the future?
One of the things that I see in the future, both for me and Fondes Amandes is just continuous development … Once you are enlightened and once that enlightenment encourages action, that is the kind of change I want to see.