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In the press
Getting back to the basics of cheese making for sustainable development
by Chiponda Chimbelu

Participants taking part in the Kraft UNV cheese making mission in Bhutan. (Helen du Parquet/2010)Participants taking part in the Kraft UNV cheese making mission in Bhutan. (Helen du Parquet/2010)
02 September 2010

Haa, Bhutan: Kraft Foods and UNV have been collaborating to mobilise corporate volunteers since 2001. The volunteers provide technical assistance in food processing to local development projects and promote volunteerism in countries where UNV is active.

This year, Kraft Foods and UNV worked together with the Bhutanese government to organise a cheese making workshop in Haa for 12 locals who would continue to spread the knowledge gained around the kingdom nation.
The workshop took place in May this year, and Alan Wolfschoon (from Kraft Europe) and Helen du Parquet (Kraft Asia) were corporate volunteers with the responsibility of running the training session for eight days. However, the project was not a smooth sailing mission.

“The challenges on location were many, and mostly to do with limitations with the equipment or the facilities,” Helen says.

Alan agreed that the difficult conditions of working in a rural area in Bhutan presented challenges, but this allowed them to be “creative and inventive.”

The challenges were an asset for the project because “it made the mission more realistic as it probably reflected the situation our trainees would find when they returned to their regions and tried to apply the training there,” Helen explained.

“It became an opportunity for us to work out with the trainees how they might go about resolving such short-comings through locally available means,” she added.

In that regard, the goal of the project was accomplished. Alan and Helen were able to teach the 12 participants how to make cheese on their own in conditions similar to the ones in the different parts of Bhutan.

“Professionally, it was an opportunity to get back to the basics of my industry and also allowed me to be more creative and improvise more than is normally possible in our highly organised Western companies,” Helen says.

For Alan, it was an opportunity to share more than 30 years of experience in the cheese making industry and “help someone else.”

“It just fills your heart and soul to help people. In my case, it was technical help, but I received a lot from this experience. Helping others is the most rewarding experience – apart from being a father,” he said.

And Helen agrees and says that the experience was “inspiring and unforgettable.”

UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)