Did you know that in Kenya an astonishing 62 languages are spoken across the whole country?
This was an interesting fact I learned on my trip to Kenya!
Hi, my name is Arjun Malde and during the summer holidays, I travelled to Kenya on my own as an unaccompanied minor. I am 11 years old and I feel this trip was like my graduation after completing primary school.
This all started as a joke in 2021 when I met Shabbar Uncle, my mum’s childhood friend. He offered me a work placement at his paper factory, UNEECO Paper Products LTD. I thought he meant it as a joke so I said sure why not?
On the 4th of August 2023, two years later I’m travelling to Kenya to learn everything there is to learn about the production of paper and working in a team.
I discovered a different way to spend the summer holidays. I felt like I learned a lot and would love to do it again. Overall, it was a very exhilarating experience!
During my time with UNEECO, I went from learning a little bit of Swahili and lots of Maths to having spatial awareness when stacking bundles of paper in the warehouse. I learnt how to make the best use of the space available to store boxes and bundles.
In addition to that, I was introduced to mechanical engineering alongside machine maintenance. My highlight was learning how the machines work and carrying out the repairs. I was also shown the different tools they use to fix the machines and how they work.
Growing up, my mum has often said there is always a solution to every challenge. And I witnessed that first-hand whilst working at UNEECO.
Working in Finance I understood what it means to have an office job. Some of the things I did, include:
- Sorting the paperwork and invoices
- Checking no one has got extra stuff
- Making sure we have not been charged for more than necessary
When interning at the Dispatch Department, I was shown how to lift heavy objects without hurting myself.
At the Inks and Chemicals department, I learnt how they make ink, how they transfer it onto paper and the use of different chemicals. This was when I spent time in production learning about paper conversion. To anyone outside this industry, it might sound simple but the production process involves lots of different things – here are some of them:
Slitting rolls, Rewinding, Tinting, cutting and sheeting.
All of this was supervised by Mr Azhar, my boss. By watching him work, I noticed that he is very good at communicating well and a good teacher.
Some of the things that I could do by the time I had finished were:
- Read the gsm (Grammage, the thickness of the paper) and weight from the reel (the big paper cylinders) labels
- Use the thermal roll (used for making receipt paper) and the sheeting machine (used for cutting paper to smaller sizes)
- I drove a forklift, although I wasn’t allowed to by myself. I will be sure to be back when I’m older; it looked very fun.
- Use of Bond Warehouses and the importance of paying tax to release your good
- Paint evenly and weld the metal together
- Make tea the Kenyan way
- The various ways a customer can pay – they could use mapesa, cash or card
As you can tell from the above, I have had thorough summer training. Thanks to the UNEECO team for putting in the effort to prepare such a detailed and elaborate internship for me. I will be back very soon to learn and help some more!
In this section of the blog, I will tell you about the people who’ve looked after me during my time.
One of the main people who stood out was Ani Masi. She looked after me at the weekends and she did a superb job. So good that I could’ve easily stayed another week without missing my family too much.
On numerous occasions, she cheered me up, gave me paracetamol when I was feeling off-colour and drove me everywhere which included waking up super early for the airport runs.
This trip wouldn’t have been the same without her. Thank you Ani Masi.
Now, a little bit about the person that made this unique adventure happen. Shabbar Uncle. During the weekdays I stayed with him and these are the lessons I learnt by being around him.
Discipline – Every morning he would wake up at 5 to go to the gym and he went to bed quite early so that he could set himself up for success.
Commitment – Whenever we were driving to and from work, he would always be taking phone calls about work so that shows that he’s dedicated and passionate. He really enjoys his work.
Freedom – Shabbar Uncle didn’t place any rules on me. I really enjoyed that because it gave me complete control over my free time, a good taster of adulthood. I must say it was very easy to lose track of time. So, another reason to learn to be disciplined.
Shabbar uncle if you’re reading this, I would like to tell you that I have never experienced teamwork in a work environment before; I have had such an amazing time with your colleagues. They were very welcoming which helped me ease in and I really enjoyed the banter we had. I felt like I had known them forever.
I look forward to being back to learn more about what you do next time.
And I will never forget your mum for all the food she cooked just for me since I was a vegetarian. It was really nice and I got introduced to some new dishes. It was really enjoyable.
My conclusion is that even though 9-6 jobs look easy they are definitely not. It requires lots of patience and focus for all the hours. Working in a factory can be physically tiring to do 5 and a half days a week. Next time my dad comes home from an even longer day I just about know what kind of tough day he has had.