Onika's employment story

Onika Stellinburgh, Gold Award holder and Youth Volunteer Program Coordinator

Onika Stellinburgh, a Gold Award holder from Guyana, works as a Youth Volunteer Program Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. Onika says taking part in the Award gave her the opportunity to explore different career paths, whilst developing valuable transferable skills.

"I took the opportunity to learn skills in a variety of settings, including dentistry, drama and motor mechanics. At the Auto Body Repair shop, I was given the opportunity to work on motor vehicles, to repair cars and minibuses. I believe the Skills section of the Award has given me and other young women in Guyana the opportunity to do jobs that people would normally associate with men – it’s helped to break down people’s perceptions of what women can and can’t do and that no one job is designed for either sex.

Skills for life and work

"During my time at the dentists’ office, I was able to learn some new and exciting approaches to dental care, to a point where my family members started consulting me for any questions they had! And for my drama training, I was able to partner with and perform once with the Caravan of Hope, an initiative created to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS in Guyana and promote zero discrimination for those affected by the virus. This also provided me with the opportunity to participate in the Caribbean Award Sub-Regional Council Program in the Bahamas and Guyana.

Gold Award holder, Onika, on her Adventurous Journey in Guyana.Confidence, creativity and collaboration

"Taking part in the Award has enhanced my leadership skills and confidence in executing tasks and duties and enabled me to be responsible and accountable for my actions. It has helped me to value time and resources and to maximise the use of both these things. I always considered myself an extrovert and the Award has helped me to learn to channel my energy and creativity into working together and helping others.

"The Award has taught me the values of integrity, self-respect and professionalism. The programme has taught me and my peers the value of executing tasks assigned, sharing responsibilities, teamwork and collaboration.

"I have also learnt tolerance and self-respect as well as working hard to achieve great results. Having completed the Award, I continue to challenge myself in all activities and not settle for mediocre; I am pushed by my inner desire to affect change and to show others that young people, when given the right opportunities, will contribute significantly to society.

A journey of self-discovery

"I would describe the Award as a life changing experience, a journey that all young people should embark on to self-discovery. The life skills taught through this programme give a head-start to any young person about to leave school to enter the world of work.  The Award is that vehicle through which social change can be executed in any society since it does not discriminate against anyone. It’s a place where young people are challenged mentally and physically and placed in situations that lead to personal and national growth."

Employer's view

National Director at Habitat for Humanity Guyana Inc, Rawle Small says he was interested with the Award’s approach to developing young people and credits Onika with developing new business ventures. 

“I first heard about the Award through local media and was interested in its approach to developing and recognising young people’s leadership and networking skills. I believe it helps to cultivate young people’s skills and their self-confidence.

“Equipping youth with personal and inter-personal transferrable skills that can be used in their professions and/or community work is the foundation of the Award.

“Onika has helped to grow our volunteer program and to connect the program with other groups and organisations. Her confidence has allowed her to develop new projects in collaboration with other young people, such as the project to repaint roadway symbols, youth leadership training and establishing a campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity Guyana.

“I would recommend other organisations to consider the value of working with awardees, specifically what they bring to the table based on their experience.” 

Habitat for Humanity Guyana works to facilitate access to affordable housing for impoverished and low income earning families. This is done working through community projects as well as in collaboration with other local and international partners. 

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