Life-Changing Training for Tanzanian girls

by AfricAid, Inc.
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Life-Changing Training for Tanzanian girls
Life-Changing Training for Tanzanian girls
Life-Changing Training for Tanzanian girls
Life-Changing Training for Tanzanian girls
Life-Changing Training for Tanzanian girls
Life-Changing Training for Tanzanian girls
Life-Changing Training for Tanzanian girls

There are so many things in this life that we cannot control.  But, we can control whether we respond positively.

As the coronavirus rapidly circled the globe and schools everywhere closed, GLAMI (Girls Livelihood and Mentoring Initiative, which is AfricAid’s program implementation partner in Tanzania) committed to providing consistent support to the 6,600 girls in its two programs.  

A Kisa Mentor works through her list of phone numbers. 

Just like in other parts of the world, when novel COVID-19 arrived in Tanzania, it demanded a change in the way Mentors interact with their Scholars.  As of May 15, 2020, the 12 Kisa Mentors have logged thousands of phone calls and texts and no positive COVID-19 case has been reported.  The days are long and phones are glued to ears, but true to form, the Mentors are using the opportunity to improve themselves. One Kisa Mentor remarked “this experience has definitely enhanced my listening and communications skills.”


Luckily, GLAMI already had a system in place to facilitate communication.  Part of the enrollment process for the Kisa Project includes a Scholar Profile document, which contains contact information for the participant’s parents/guardians. With the encouragement of the 25 Partner School Liaisons, Mentors sent introductory text messages and started making phone calls to both Scholars and parents the very first week. They followed up by forming WhatsApp groups to make communication easier. These groups have also turned into a platform for academic discussions for the Scholars.


A Kisa Scholar performs her cooking chores before she starts to study at home.

When speaking individually to Kisa Scholars, Mentors check to see how they are adjusting and coping being back at home (most in the Kisa program attend boarding school). The girls have reported that they are having trouble adjusting their study schedules to do home chores, especially since it is currently planting season and many families have farming plots. The Mentors chat with them about maintaining a schedule and sharing it with their parents.  Mentors also speak directly with parents about giving their daughters time to study. Some Scholars are stressed because they left their study materials at school since they didn’t expect to be home for more than one month. Still others have no internet access, or even television or radio. Mentors are working with school liaisons to see how these isolated students can be supported.


Like youth all over the world, a Kisa Scholar settles down to study at home.

While it is a relief for the Scholars to be in touch with their Mentors, it is also comforting for the Mentors to know that their girls are safe and sound.  One Kisa Mentor said, “As the days go on, communication has been smooth and both parents and Scholars are collaborative.  Scholars are always excited to hear from me and I am glad they are still sounding hopeful and responsible.”

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Statistics show that 76% of business professionals believe that having a mentor is important, but only 37% have one.  Mentors provide a wealth of knowledge and experience to us; they guide us through challenges and increase our likelihood of success; and they lift us up and take our success personally.  A mentor can help a mentee improve his or her abilities and skills through observation, assessment, modeling, and providing guidance.  - Forbes Magazine, 7/3/19

The pillar of AfricAid’s programs in Tanzania is mentorship.  There are countless examples of valuable mentoring relationships that are being built through the Kisa Project and Binti Shupavu, between 33 young female role models (31 full time Mentors and 2 volunteers) who teach after school classes weekly and the nearly 6,000 secondary school girls participating in the two programs in 2020.

Here’s the story of one of them:  Aikande, who graduated as a Kisa Scholar herself at Makumira Secondary School in 2014, and Charity, a Year Two Scholar at Oshara Secondary School.  Charity’s Advanced-Level combination is History, Geography, and Kiswahili and she hopes to pursue community development studies when she reaches university next year.


Charity meets with her Mentor, Aikande, to better understand something discussed in class.

Aikande:  In my work as a Kisa Mentor, I have come across many outstanding Scholars, but Charity really stands out.  Her Year One Mentor, Subira, pointed her out to me as one of the especially strong and active Scholars at Oshara.  I have also found that inside the classroom, she is always attentive, tries to respond, and asks questions.  Outside the classroom, she is an outgoing person too.  She likes sports and games, preparing and decorating for class parties, singing and cooking.

Charity:  Before having Madame Aikande as my Mentor, I stayed with everything in my chest.  Now that I have a mentor, there are big changes.  Changes like improvement in my confidence and self-expression.  I have learned that getting my voice heard is important.  I have grown to be a resilient person and more solution oriented.  There are many outstanding things I have learned in class:  good decision making, win-win solutions, social entrepreneurship, budget making, leadership styles, being proactive, and confidence.  I am working on implementing them all and seeing the positive differences they can make.


Charity started a wide range of entrepreneurial ventures to help pay for her school expenses: bracelets, rugs, decorating, poultry farming (note: stock photo).

Aikande:  When Charity talks about one particular topic, her face brightens and she gives you a dazzling smile, showing her big dimples.  The subject she is most enthusiastic about is entrepreneurship.  She does not depend on being employed, but is a creative problem solver and is always pursuing new ideas.  During the holidays, she started a small-scale poultry business, which has grown from 5 to 20 chickens. 

Charity:  Taking care of the chickens and watching them grow is one of my favorite activities when I am at home.  My mom takes care of them while I am at school.  In addition to my poultry business, I make crisps (snacks), cultural bracelets, sandals, and I have just learned how to make decorative doormats.  I have sold all of these things to help pay for school fees and materials.  I want to show other youth how they can engage themselves in entrepreneurial skills and not stay idle.  My other passions are designing and decorating.  During school celebrations, they come to me for designs.  At last year’s graduation, I was awarded for designing the runway.  It was a memorable moment in my life at school.

Aikande: In October, 2018, as a First Year Scholar, Charity had the opportunity attend AfricAid’s Career Day event.  1,700 Kisa Scholars from 28 Partner Schools gathered at 2 venues in Arusha and Moshi for a day of motivational speeches by professional women, break-out sessions, awards, socializing, good food, and dancing.  In addition to Career Day, there are other challenging and collaborative activities that add value to the Kisa classes.  Last Spring, Charity and her Year One Kisa classmates developed and delivered their Year 1 Presentations in front of a panel of judges.  Charity’s topic was poor waste disposal in the community.  The solution she recommended was a garbage and recycling center some distance from where people actually live.  Perhaps she will make this idea a reality this year when she and her Year Two classmates work on their 2 Day Challenge

Charity:  My inspirations in life have been facts, stories, and quotes.  There are details in facts that show us how to face the situation we are going through.  Facts may tell us that things are hard, but they don’t say they are impossible.  Hearing the inspiring stories shared during Career Day has shown me what it takes to be successful.  Quotations have a hopeful tone that helps us reflect and know that we can have a good future too.   Madame Aikande often shares inspirational quotes with the class. 

Aikande:  By sharing our experiences, life shows us how much we need each other.  In any path someone may take, there are people who came before.  It is good to know that we are not on our journey alone.  No matter how hard things may get, we have a shoulder to lean on to get the help we need on our journey.  This is why we all need mentors! 

Charity:  The beautiful things in this life are not far from where we are.  It is possible to attain them if we work to get there and get a support system.  I like being around positive energy and my Kisa Mentor, Madame Aikande, has been a very important part of my life.  She has guided me through good decision making and we have exchanged ideas.  She listens when I need to talk to her and afterward, I am always relieved and hopeful.

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AfricAid is creating a pipeline of future entrepreneurs and professionals to help fuel economies on the African continent, which are among the world’s fastest growing.  Our Kisa Project and Binti Shupavu programs are preparing young women to be full participants in the Tanzanian economy, which in turn will transform their entire country.

The large and growing numbers of youth in Africa presents both a challenge and an opportunity. Unemployment is widespread, but AfricAid’s Kisa Scholars are proving that if no job is available, they can create their own!  Often, they don’t wait until they’ve finished high school to begin a business.  They create their own path to independence, earning funds for school materials and other needs and helping support their families. 

Meet the Young Entrepreneurs


Beyond Bracelets

While still in high school as a Kisa Scholar, Lupa formed an entrepreneurship group of 25 classmates and organized the creation and sale of bracelets. She started a second group in her home community with projects to make bar soap and batiks. Now that she is in college, she tutors and mentors younger students (particularly girls), and aspires to establish a bakery.

Meet Lupa  


Porridge Point

Stumai (Mai) is an award-winning entrepreneur who owns several businesses, including Porridge Point, a food cart that sells several flavors of nutritious porridge to-go to commuters and hospital patients. Mai is into the latest trends and creates all her own styles, so keep an eye on the runways and fashion blogs. She is also a motivational speaker and has appeared at AfricAid’s Career Day.

Meet Mai


It Started with Snacks

Zabela is an example of a girl who dove into entrpreneurship even before she became a Kisa Scholar. In Form Four, with a small bit of starting capital from her sister, she started selling fried banana crisps to hungry travelers at bus stops.  She is looking forward to the lessons in budgeting and planning that she will get from Kisa that will enable her to become a larger scale entrepreneur!

Meet Zabela


Savvy Stylists

Nengarivo and Winfrida are Kisa Alumnae who both earned bachelor’s degrees in education in December, 2017.  While they were in college, they used to braid their friends’ hair and help them apply makeup. Facing a tough job market after graduation, they did not give up… they sought out professional training and employed themselves.  Thus, Twinsister Makeup Salon was born!

Meet Nengarivo & Winfrida


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Another group of Kisa Scholars has just graduated.  With this last round, AfricAid is proud to announce that we now have over 2,000 alumnae from the Kisa Project!  The innovative 2-year leadership course started in 2010 with the objective of preparing girls in their last two years of secondary school to attend university and create positive social change in their communities.


These capable and motivated young women have been mentored, have developed into leaders, and are ready to transform their communities!  Indeed, many of them already have made their mark.


Meet Some Extraordinary Kisa Alumnae!


Sarah rganized a huge one-day event for 300 girls from 4 schools and an orphanage in her home community.  Launched an organization called Tabasamu La Binti (A Girl’s Smile) to benefit these same girls. Attended East Africa Girls Leadership Summit as a Year Two Scholar.  Sarah is pursuing a bachelor of science in biology at University of Dodoma.

Meet Sarah


Saada started an organization called The Rise-Up Movement, mobilizing 20 of her university classmates (men and women) to inspire school aged youth.  The role models have visited 7 secondary schools in 3 regions and also started Girls and Talent Clubs. Saade is pursuing a bachelor of arts in education at University of Dar es Salaam.

Meet Saada



Rebeca is pursuing a bachelors degree in international business and trade, along with a leadership course, as one of 100 Mandela Centennial Scholars at Africa Leadership Academy in Rwanda.  As part of the very selective application process, she wrote about her Two Day Challenge project as  Kisa Scholar, which included a training program about “girls worth.”

Meet Rebecca

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Ellie presents an award to Einoth's Scholar
Ellie presents an award to Einoth's Scholar

Year 1 Presentations, or Y1P as they are also known, are a fundamental part of the Kisa Project’s Curriculum.  Each Kisa Scholar, in her first year of the program, utilizes the concepts and skills she has learned over the course of the year to study an issue in her community and propose a potential solution.  She then creates a ten-minute presentation and delivers it in front of her peers and a panel of judges.  This work goes on to form the basis for the Scholars’ 2 Day Challenge projects the following year.

Let us take you into the world of Y1P as seen through the eyes of three of our Arusha-based Mentors – Einoth, Eliakunda, and Chonge.  Their Kisa Scholars from these schools took the Y1P stage in March, 2019:  Mringa Secondary School, Arusha Secondary School, Arusha Girls’ School, Mlangarini Secondary School, and Mwandet High School.


Einoth:  “We Will do Wonders”

It is an exciting, but also nervous, time for the students when preparing for their Year 1 Presentations.  You can just see the excitement bursting from within the girls!  Everyone tries to imagine how the day will be and the girls ask many questions before the event.  Some are curious, wanting to what the judges are like and whether they will ask hard questions.

“Are they like you, Madam?”

“Will I be able to present in front of new faces?”

Some are really confident, saying “Madam, my presentation will be the best!”

One of my Scholars, Irene from Mringa Secondary School, handed me a note one day as I was leaving class where we practiced the presentations.  She had written:  “Madam, you should not worry about us.  We will do wonders, we will surprise you.  We will do the best on our presentations.”

This felt so good to read.  It showed me how confident my Scholars are and how hard they are working to get to where they want to go.

 Mary, a Scholar from another school in the Arusha Region came to me often before the day of the presentations.  She claimed she was afraid and did not think she could give her speech.  I kept encouraging her, telling her that she could do it and that nothing would stop her from completing her presentation.  I told her:  “You can do anything you set yourself to do, and you can do it even better than you thought possible!”

Mary kept practicing and on Y1P day, before entering the room, she came to me and said, “Madam, do you think I can do it?”  I replied “Why not?  YES YOU CAN, Mary!”  She then held my hand to her chest.  Her heart was beating so fast!  I told her, “You have to relax Mary.  Take a deep breath.  The presentation is yours, you own it, you have all the answers to any question they might ask because you are presenting what is your own.” 

Mary entered the room, gave her presentation, and to her great surprise, she was awarded first place! After Mary received her prize, she came and said beside me and said, “Madam, Kumbe, I can do wonders, eeh…”  Kumbe is a Swahili exclamation word that people use to express something exciting.  This really was a surprise to Mary, but also to me and her fellow Scholars.  It makes me believe anyone can achieve anything they set their mind to and that each of my Scholars has potential!


Ellie:  A Platform for the Community to Learn about AfricAid

When it comes to Year 1 Presentations, all I want to see is the best effort from my Scholars.  Some of them become very nervous because it is their first time speaking in public.  In the lead up to Y1P, I showed my Scholars a video about overcoming the fear of public speaking.  The video was very helpful and allowed the girls to focus on practicing their speeches.

One of my favorite parts of Y1P is hearing how the girls support and cheer for one another.  It is also satisfying to receive feedback from the outside judges, who really seem to enjoy this experience.  One of them, Nayamani, said, “I think that if all girls could speak confidently like these girls do, not only speaking about their future careers, but also what they desire to see in their communities, then this world already have a group of powerful young leaders and changemakers.”

Year 1 Presentations don’t just mark the conclusion of Year One of the program.  They are also a platform for the invited judges to understand AfricAid’s transformative work and be a part of it.  Another judge said, “I am very grateful for the opportunity to come and learn about what AfricAid does through the Kisa Project.  I think that is important to prepare girls to be leaders in their communities.”

This forum also provides an opportunity for students to display their talents.  Some Scholars take the chance to show their acting skills, some sing, and others read a poem that reflects leadership and the advantages of being part of Kisa.  Allowing Scholars to showcase their creativity further increases their confidence and self-esteem, and makes for a very enjoyable day!


Chonge:  Bringing Back Memories

Year 1 Presentations were a wonderful experience for everyone – the Scholars, the Mentors and the judges who participated in the events.  Scholars discussed the challenges facing their own communities and provided win-win solutions, which demonstrated their skills as leaders.

For Mentors, it was a fulfilling experience, especially for those of us who went through the Kisa program back in the day.  We reflected on our own experience as Kisa Scholars and compared the presentations to the ones we gave back then.  Not surprisingly, the speeches get better every year!

Apart from reminiscing, we were also able to see how the girls we mentor have been transformed from who they were to who they have become, particularly in areas like confidence and public speaking.  You would expect the Scholars to be nervous, but let me tell you, we Mentors are nervous too!  We want to see the best from our Scholars.

During classes, we often have Scholars who are struggling in various ways, but as Mentors it is our job to keep them motivated and make them believe they can do anything. Ellie told me, “I was so happy and excited to see one of my Scholars announced as one of the winners in her room.  She had been struggling and always asked for my help to improve her confidence.  I worked with her, giving her extra time after class, and in the end, she showed that she could shine through her Y1P.”

For Mentors experiencing their first round of Year 1 Presentations, it was something fresh and unique.  The Kisa Project started at Einoth’s school the year after she graduated, so she did not experience it as a Scholar.  As a Mentor, she observed, “It was awesome listening to the Scholars preparing to share so many great ideas in their presentations.  These young ladies have the passion to be leaders and community changers.”

Our Kisa Scholars are “being the change they want to see” through Year 1 Presentations and their Kisa Mentors could not be more encouraged or proud.

Einoth Congratulates her Scholar for doing well
Einoth Congratulates her Scholar for doing well
Chonge welcoming everyone to the presentations
Chonge welcoming everyone to the presentations
Scholar are ready to give their presentations
Scholar are ready to give their presentations
Scholars who won awards for outstanding work
Scholars who won awards for outstanding work


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AfricAid, Inc.

Location: Denver, CO - USA
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Project Leader:
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