PEP makes right connection for computer savvy intern

A working partnership: Research and Documentation Specialist in the St. Kitts Department of Culture, Ms Marlene Phillips, inspecting the computer that was brought back to life by PEP intern, Mr Michael Raheem Thatcher.

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (June 25, 2013) — Buying an old computer while still in high school might have been the best decision Mr Michael Raheem Thatcher made. Whatever frustrations the old computer gave him, they have today become the stepping stones to his being noticed and appreciated by a computer-dependent society.

Now aged 20 and going to 21, Thatcher can strip down an old computer, diagnose its problems, and build it back anew. The St. Kitts Department of Culture is one such beneficiary where he went to their ‘computer graveyard’ and repaired one of the discarded computers. It is now in use.

Research and Documentation Specialist in the St. Kitts Department of Culture, Ms Marlene Phillips, says that at the Research and Documentation Unit there are two positions, that of the specialist and an assistant specialist, but with only one computer.

“We do not have a second computer so we have been making requests for that,” said Ms Phillips. “But Michael Raheem Thatcher said, ‘let me take a look at the old computers that the ministry has in the back’, and he was able to put one together and have it functioning. It needs a little more tweaking. But he has these skills set about him that has come in handy.”

Mr Thatcher is not an employee of the Department of Culture, even though he is working there as an Assistant Research and Documentation Specialist. He has been seconded to the Department by the People Employment Programme (PEP), which is offering employment and training opportunities to young persons in St. Kitts and Nevis, with funding from the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF).

According to Ms Phillips, the department requested for an intern from PEP because of the amount of workflow at the Research and Documentation Unit.

“He came in at the in-term of a workshop that was being organised between the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Implementation Unit and the Research and Documentation Unit of Department of Culture,” says Ms Phillips. “We had planned a four-day workshop to sensitise people in the creative and cultural industries, so he came in when that was being planned already.”

Thatcher came in after the Easter holiday break and he was able to do some documentation for the department with a video camera, and documented some of the activities of the workshop. He has also been helping in terms of researching information, doing interviews with people, establishing content to be uploaded on to the website, and helps to craft resume applications for the sectors that will go up on the website as well as organising bios for different people in the creative industry.

“He works very well under pressure,” comments Ms Phillips. “Within a week to two weeks of him being here I have immersed him in everything. It is definitely being on-hands training and I do not think people realise how diverse the Research and Documentation Unit is.

“We maintain, and manage our social networks; Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogspot.com and constantly we are doing things to promote the culture and the heritage to the public. So sometimes we get involved in different events, as the Ministry will be called upon to do cultural events. We document some of those things and not just sharing information.”

Mr Michael Raheem Thatcher, who is from Lodge Project in St. Kitts, attended the Violet Petty Primary School and the Cayon High School. After he left school he started doing music production at home, and plays in his own band. He has had relationships with the Department of Culture as a result of some mentorship programmes that he had initiated.

He recalls that one day he came to the Department of Culture, and the Drumming Specialist, Mr Royd Phipps, told him about the People Employment Programme (PEP), which was offering employment to young people.

He went to the PEP office at Dorset, and as they say, the rest is history. He says: “I am hoping after the programme they would actually keep me (at the Department of Culture). Even before the PEP I was hoping that I get a job here; my mind was already on Culture Department. PEP has made the right connection for me.”

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