A Binti Shupavu Refresher!
GLAMI hosts second “Opportunity Day”
for Binti Shupavu Alumnae
“After the Binti lessons, I am willing to share my thoughts and can speak in front of many people. I know how and to whom I can seek help. I didn’t do so well on my Form Four national examinations, but I have not given up. I learned to stay confident and not give up in life.”
Janeth, Binti Shupavu Alumna from Mukulat Secondary School
Imagine you are a 16-year-old Tanzanian girl. Thanks to an innovative after-school program at your school called Binti Shupavu, you learned coping and study skills and you completed your Ordinary Level certificate (lower secondary school in Tanzania and a big accomplishment, many girls do not reach this milestone in their education). You have great memories of the fun and exciting Binti Shupavu classes and how you and your fellow Binti Scholars cheered for each other, while your Mentor encouraged all of you.
Your national exam scores have come in and you did not do well enough to get a place at good quality Advanced Level program (last two years of high school). You feel your confidence slipping, your family is not being helpful, and you are not sure what to do next. You need a pep talk and to be back in the Binti Shupavu positive environment. It’s time for Opportunity Day!
According to Deborah Sabuni Rodgers, Communications and Alumnae Coordinator at Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative (GLAMI), the purpose of Opportunity Day is to equip Binti Alumnae with knowledge and skills that can help them in their current post-secondary lives. These are tools that will empower them and help them be employed. More specifically, the skills help them make healthy choices, influence positive financial behaviors (i.e. entrepreneurship), and build – or build back – confidence. Professional guest speakers were invited to share their knowledge with the alumnae and GLAMI’s own mentor staff stepped up to speak to their former Scholars.
In June, 2021, two Opportunity Day events were held in Arusha and Moshi that served over 300 Binti Shupavu Alumnae. There are 4,724 girls who have graduated from the program since its successful pilot in 2017. (It is now offered in 22 schools in Northern Tanzania with 4,788 more girls currently enrolled in the 4-year program). GLAMI was pleased with the nearly 20% of all alumnae who turned out to restore their sisterhood bond.
“Believe that good things do come in time.”
Binti Shupavu staff also benefitted from the program. Binti Mentor Naomi Petro said, “It was not only a chance for the alumnae to learn and grow, but for us to learn and grow. I loved that I also learned good interesting things from the speakers.” Naomi also gave a talk on the “power of assertiveness.” Using real life examples and her own story, she spoke about how to identify your power, how to use it, how to ask for help, and how helpful personal assertiveness can be in leadership, entrepreneurship, and academics.
Some Alumnae gave examples of how they have been proactive and entrepreneurial. A Binti Alumna from Ilkiding’a Secondary School grows and sells vegetables at Kilombero Market in Arusha to support her family financially and avoid being idle. Another alumna from JK Nyerere makes baobab seeds as a snack that she supplies to shops.
Letitia Wilfred, also a Binti Mentor, shared the jitters the staff had before the start of the Arusha event. “At the beginning, there were just a few alumnae and we were a little worried if we would reach the number we hoped for. Then BOOM! they came flowing in! I was so proud of the alumnae as they organized themselves in teams, took public transport, and came together for Opportunity Day.”
Anande Urassa, is another Binti Mentor who spoke at the event with the topic: “personal hygiene and dignity.” She reminded the girls how important it is to accept who they are and avoid being influenced to do negative practices like skin bleaching. Anande said, “It was so exciting, from the planning of the day to seeing the alumnae participate during the day. It felt really good to know that alumnae are still ready to learn from us. Many of these young women are idle now – it’s like they couldn’t wait to go back to school or meet us again in their lives. We provided what they were hoping to receive and just from the looks on their faces, I believe we gave them a positive boost to their self-esteem.”
The speakers were carefully chosen to address a variety of topics, including:
Mental Health – With the added stress of the pandemic, youth everywhere are losing hope, despondent about falling off track with their lives, and giving up. A doctor from Mount Meru Hospital addressed how to help a person having suicidal thoughts. GLAMI has two social workers on staff who are especially tuned in to assisting girls in crisis (and a toll-free number), but the organizers thought it would be helpful for all the attendees to hear this important information.
Healthy Relationships – Kisa Mentor Chonge Tukwa talked about the characteristics of healthy and harmful relationships using examples, activities, and role plays (much like the way the Binti Shupavu curriculum is delivered.) The Scholars found this the most exciting because it was so participatory.
Reproductive Health – This topic is always the one the generates the most questions. Young women are eager to get accurate, factual information about how their body works, and how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies.
Entrepreneurship – A representative from the Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO) in Arusha offered marketing tactics and other things to consider when starting a business, using her own challenges and successes as an example.
Enjoy this slide show with scenes from Opportunity Days in both Arusha and Moshi!
Binti Alumnae – What they Said
A gathering such as Opportunity Day is a great time to get a sense of program participant’s feelings and attitudes.
We asked: In what ways would your life be different now if you had not participated in Binti Shupavu?
“I wouldn’t be as confident as I am today if not for Binti Shupavu. I would be scared of everything and everyone around me. I would not be able to look for business opportunities.” Regina, Mateves Secondary School
“I think I would have had bad habits by choosing bad friends. Maybe I wouldn’t have completed my O-Level studies.” Thelesia, Nkoanrua Secondary School
“I would not be standing on my own as a girl. I would have been pressured by men because my economic situation at home is poor. I would not have been brave enough to overcome the challenges to complete school.” Rosemary, JK Nyerere Secondary School
“I wouldn’t have a personal plan or be able to make my own schedule. I wouldn’t have focus and the study skills to perform academically.” Neria, Mawenzi Secondary School
Read about GLAMI’s First Opportunity Day in 2019.
Another important event organized by Binti Shupavu is the Parent Engagement Meeting.
Binti Shupavu is a four-year life skills course for lower secondary school girls covering topics such as study skills, personal leadership, health and self-confidence with the goal of increasing graduation rates for vulnerable girls.