It is almost impossible to believe that just a few weeks ago, we could travel from one place to another without any fears or restrictions whatsoever.
Now, with the coronavirus pandemic raging on, most people are stuck at home, and this can feel like imprisonment, and could breed boredom.
To avoid being idle, some innovative youngsters have opted to make use of this time to grow their skillsets. And notably, tens of high profile institutions have made their courses free and accessible to all. Why haven’t you learnt something new yet?
Sharon Obange, 27, Operations planning
I have always been thrilled by DIY (Do It Yourself) furniture making. I wanted to create a bench for my balcony for a very long time, but I always lacked the time.
Finally, during this period of working from home, I have accomplished that. I watched several YouTube videos on how to go about it and bought the equipment and materials I needed to make the bench.
Although I am working from home, I still dedicate eight hours to my job, which is why I have taken longer than usual to complete the bench.
I only work on it after I am done with my work-related activities. Besides making the bench, I have also increased my culinary skills. I can now make a pizza at home!
My employer has also advised me to take some online courses and get professional digital certifications which will boost my resume.
Through apps such as DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone, I am learning to speak French. I work for a global company, and learning another language will enable me interact better with my colleagues in other countries, and also give me an edge over my peers at work.
I decided to learn these new skills since I have a lot more free time on my hands. It is also a great way to take my mind off the anxiety and stress that is associated with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While many of these newly acquired skills will benefit me professionally, I am studying some of them just for fun.
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Brian Muok, 25, Student
I have been at home since the government directed all learning institutions to be closed over a month ago.
I am a fourth year student of electronic media at Daystar University, and we are taking our classes online.
I am using most of my free time to reflect on my life, and to develop my skills in areas such as reading, songwriting and painting, which is my new hobby.
For a long time, I desired to learn how to paint, but I always got too busy. My studies take up a lot of my time, especially now that I am a student leader and the chairperson of Daystar Compassion and Care Centre, a counselling initiative that promotes mental health wellness among students.
To kick start my journey into painting, I bought some canvas in downtown Nairobi and then sought YouTube tutorials.
I was amazed because there are so many online tutorials on painting and I learnt so much. For example, I realised that watercolor painting is easier than oil painting.
I don’t know much about carpentry but I needed wooden frames for my paintings, so I approached a carpenter from my neighbourhood and he has been of great help so far.
Since I started learning this new skill a month ago, I have made portraits of legendary Kenyan figures such as Dedan Kimathi, Tom Mboya and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. I have also painted a view of the sunset, and a fictional character I call Musau.
I plan to create a comic book for children, and Musau will be one of the mainstay characters. During my childhood, I really liked comic books and that is what has stirred the desire to come up with one.
I usually paint during the day because of the natural light, but it is at night that I think up most ideas. Any painter will tell you that the night time quiet is ideal for creating visions that can later be turned into great paintings. I intend to start selling the paintings, but I am yet to start advertising my artworks.
I enjoy painting and I feel that I am utilising my free time nobly. Before I started painting, I read a lot about audio and video production because these skills are important for me as a song writer and producer. Besides, I also play the saxophone, piano and guitar.
* * *Muthoni Kahuho, 29, Political scientist- conflict prevention and peace building
I am learning how to build an e-Commerce app on drop shipping and share market. This is where you run a store on behalf of a supplier.
For instance, I am keen on selling women’s wear on Shopify, which is an e-commerce platform. I only help a customer make the transaction online.
After that, the product will be sent to them by the supplier or manufacturer.
When the first Covid-19 case was announced in Kenya, I went online looking for suggestions on how to invest amid the widespread uncertainty, and most sources recommended investing in stock and drop shipping.
My desire is to create multiple streams of income that will supplement my monthly salary so that I may never again suffer the kind of financial constraints I have faced in the last few months.
I realised that I spent so much time on the phone, so I decided to surf the internet and look for ways to keep myself occupied during this period. That is how I came to learn about drop shipping.
From my research, I have realised that there are dozens of platforms where entrepreneurs can advertise and sell their products.
I’m learning that to run an online store, you do not even require huge amounts of capital.
For instance, I got into a platform that allowed me a 14-day free trial period, meaning that I needed to make a sale before the 14 days elapsed or I would have to pay Sh2,900 as a monthly premium.
Before you open an online store, you have to find products that are of good quality, those that have come in new designs and those that are pursued by a niche clientele.
You also need to have some knowledge in sales and marketing. In order to reach more people online, I plan to pay for Facebook and Google ads, social media influencers and to subscribe to other sales and marketing apps.
I have also been familiarising myself with global policies on shipping and return/refund so that I can conduct my business within the confines of the law.
I am also learning about how to invest in the stock market. I just started a few weeks ago but I am determined to learn everything about how the money market works.
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