We are excited to report that the computer labs that AfricAid has installed in six secondary schools in the Arusha region of Tanzania are now being used by our Kisa Scholars to communicate with their sponsors in North America! As the Scholars -- girls in their last two years of high school who are enrolled in our leadership training and entrepreneurship program--- have become increasingly familiar with computer technology, they are now beginning to use the computers for far more than just their school work.
After researching the best way for Scholars and sponsors to communicate with each other, AfricAid has set up a private Facebook group that allows sponsors to learn about the general activities of the Kisa Scholars and their curriculum. TheFacebook group also enables private communications between Scholars and sponsors, within the parameters that have been set up by the mentors of the Scholars. This will help the sponsors know that their Scholar is thriving and learning from being a member of the Kisa program. At the same time, the Scholars are uplifted by the communications they receive from a caring person, school group, book club, etc., across the ocean. In the face of the huge obstacles that challenge young women in Tanzania, it is a true morale-booster to know that someone, even thousands of miles away, is rooting for you to keep moving forward!
The Facebook group will also allow the Scholars to take part in a communication/information exchange with their sponsors that uses the AfricAid curriculum that was developed in order to help our Tanzanian students and their sponsors learn more about life in Tanzania and North America, respectively. Each month a particular question is discussed, such as who are the leaders of your community or what type media impacts you the most.
We’re so proud of our Kisa Scholars and the progress that they are making with the help of the computer labs that our supporters are making possible!
This past month, AfricAid's Kisa Scholars welcomed some very special guests - members of the She's the First team. She's the First is a nonprofit that works to sponsor girls' education in developing countries, giving girls the chance to become the first in their families to graduate from secondary school. As a part of this mission, they have supported and sponsored many of our Kisa Scholars, for which we are so grateful. This past month we had the opportunity to share our work with them in person as part of their visit to Tanzania!
When I was in high school, I remember very, very occasionally walking into class to find the ultimate surprise - guests. It might be former students, or one of the teacher's friends who just happened to stop by, but it always meant one thing: a shorter, more laid-back class in which none of us would get yelled at. I'd pull out a piece of notebook paper to write a note to a friend (in gel pen, of course, and then painstakingly folded into some intricate origami pattern), while others would start games of hangman or throw paper footballs. The downside, of course, was that whatever work we did manage to get done that day would have extra eyes upon it, especially if we had a presentation to do.
So when we visited with Kisa classes this week, all of this was playing through my head. I feel we owe both an asante* and a pole* to the Kisa mentors and students for letting us tag along and disturb their classes. Once there, we listened as the girls discussed status quo and their place in it, as another class presented their business plans ("Royal Chicken, where the chickens are fatter!"), and as they learned to fight back against negative stereotypes affecting women in Tanzania. Breaking into STEM fields was high on that discussion list, just as it is in the USA.
We also had opportunities to meet with our STF Scholars after classes were over, and learned more about their goals and dreams. Many of them were preparing for exams, so achieving Division I or II was highest on their list of priorities. They also talked about going to university, and many of them want to study law - a profession direly needed by people in the area, especially by women.
We weren't surprised to find them well-spoken and enthusiastic about joining the Kisa Project. Even the first-year students knew what it meant to be chosen for the program, and told us they were ready to be leaders among their peers and in their communities. We have no doubt they will be!
Creating access and availability to education means also providing quality educational experiences. This means that from both ends of the spectrum, children attending and teachers teaching, an investment is made. At AfricAid we break our mission into Reach, Teach and Empower. Through these avenues we aspire to reach more students and children in Tanzania, we aspire to teach more students and teachers through our various programs and ultimately empower all with education for future success.
AfricAid reaches students and girls through our scholarship programs, teaches them to achieve their potential, and empowers young girls to become leaders! Thank you for helping us reach, teach and empower!