Capacity building has become an essential issue in the humanitarian sector, as it directly contributes to the quality and effectiveness of aid provided to crisis-affected populations (it is identified as such as a quality criteria in the 2015 Core Humanitarian Standard – CHS). If you are managing a team and/or a project, you can develop your competency in designing, delivering and evaluating training activities for your staff members and partners. By attending the ToT course, you will directly contribute to the improvement of their practices and performance, as training is a tool for change, as we believe in Bioforce.
From trainee to trainer
Dr Qasem Abdelal is a German Jordanian University (GJU) professor in Water and Environmental Engineering. He is involved as a teacher in the Master’s degree in Humanitarian WaSH, that Bioforce designed jointly with Action against Hunger and GJU. Two years ago, he underwent a Bioforce Training of Trainer (ToT) course. Last month, Qasem was THE Bioforce trainer in a ToT session held in Amman for humanitarian staff. And here is how it all happened.
“Perhaps be Bioforce’s next trainer”
“It all started a couple of years back when a Bioforce trainer conducted a ToT training at the German Jordanian University. This training was part of the Wash Master’s programme that we are jointly developing. It was a very engaging and interesting training we had to undergo before developing our course teaching material.
I learned later on that my name was recommended by the trainer when asked after the training on which candidate among the trainees might be suitable to take over and perhaps be Bioforce’s next trainer. He chose me. It came as a pleasant surprise to be honest, I’ve always felt that I had good credentials but it never crossed my mind that Bioforce might be interested in expending their network of trainers because they are doing a pretty great job.
As part of my capacity building process, Bioforce asked me to join another ToT course as a co-trainer for the practical sessions in 2020. The next year, I was offered to deliver the whole ToT session, with support of Bioforce head office. Which I did a month ago for trainees in Amman! And now I am Bioforce’s trainer for ToT sessions in Amman, and in other places in the Middle-East if my university professor schedule permits it.
“Anne walked me through the whole material”
But the story is not “one day I was a trainee, the next day I was a trainer”, as it was a 2-year process, with more intensity several weeks before the training, there were several talks with Anne, the Learning and Development Coordinator at Bioforce HQ, who provided the material and made sure that I was on top of it.
Anne walked me through the whole material as I was preparing for delivering my training. It was a full support from Bioforce’s side. My discussions with her were probably in the range of 5 hours total, in which we went almost through every detail of the training, including all the exercises. She went back to her experiences, in many instances she would say: “at this stage of the training, you might have the following issues or questions come up”. She knew that because she was there before, and that level of detail turned out to be very helpful. She was spot on in many of her comments, and that made things a lot easier and much smoother for me.
The training was pretty much laid out for me, and all I had to do was just deliver! It makes it much easier to perform well. The success was a combined success due to the fact that we have a really good material and detailed training sessions. If I didn’t bring it up to the trainees, they would probably never have realised that the training material was not developed by me!
“A training is an exposure and an eye-opening process”
During this very first session as a trainer last month, things went very smoothly with the trainees, who were all humanitarian national staff. When you share the same language, the same culture, when you understand cultural limitations it brings down so many barriers. I felt the connection with the group. People were engaged from day 1 and they immediately realised the benefits of taking this course: many of them came with a preconception of what a training is, yet one of our goal was to make them realize that the sessions they were attending were actually what training should be.
By the end of the 5-day session, many came back to me and said “I take it back, I did not conduct training sessions in the past, what I did was information sharing sessions, and now I can differentiate between training and what I used to do.” It is definitely a new capacity that they will end up having in their workplace. A training is an exposure and an eye-opening process.”