Even though we are sheltering inside right now, spring is still happening outside our windows. This blog is about another wonderful type of growth.
Binti Shupavu is an extra-curricular life skills program taught by AfricAid’s partner, Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative (GLAMI), in 22 Northern Tanzanian schools. Its reach is wide – there are about 4,800 secondary school girls benefiting from these confidence-building lessons in 2020.
Something special happens when girls are involved in Binti Shupavu – they blossom. Academic performance is improving, which is a tangible result that everyone likes to see. But, it is more than that. The girls’ personalities – how they perceive themselves and how they treat others – are evolving too. Teachers and administrators at our Partner Schools are convinced that Binti Shupavu is responsible for the positive changes and achievements they are seeing in their female students.
And, if the Scholars are the blooms, then the college-educated Mentors that deliver the highly participatory program surely are the gardeners as the relationships are planted and tended. Binti Shupavu Mentors are key witnesses to the changes taking place since they have been with these girls through the whole process.
Deborah Rodgers, who is in her second year as a Binti Shupavu Mentor has already seen profound changes. She says, “Last year, my Scholars were quiet and shy, not raising their hands or answering questions. After spending a whole year in the program, I can see changes as they speak out their mind confidently, while looking after one another. Staying in school has become their first priority, and they are setting goals for the future.”
Prisca is one of Mentor Rachel Banda’s Scholars from Mateves Secondary School. She was meek and generally not adjusting well to her first year of secondary school. She was not performing academically and got the lowest possible score, barely passing, on her Form One exams. Rachel understood that Prisca needed help and paired her with another Scholar who is a strong student. The great news is that Prisca moved up an entire Division on her results from her Form Two exams. She is now on a roll for Form Three! Rachel reports, “I am so convinced that what we are doing is nourishing a lot of girls lives. Prisca used to be very quiet in class and always in the back row. Now, she sits in the front row, asks questions, and responds cheerfully when asked anything.”
Prisca’s father also believes that the Binti Shupavu program has impacted his daughter’s progression. He shares, “There are times when a child has a lot going on in his or her life, which makes them think that they are of no worth and they can never be appreciated. But then, when someone comes in and stands as a guardian angel, everything turns out positive and troubles become history. My child has bloomed.”
Mr. Imani Nyiingi, Head of School of Mateves agrees that Binti Shupavu drives great progress at his school. “Last year’s Form Two performance on the National Examination was amazing, with girls especially taking the lead.”
Mentoring matters! SOAR, the Aspen Institute’s Forum on Women and Girls recently published an essay by Devotha Mlay, Managing Director for Programs, about GLAMI’s philosophy.
Schools in Tanzania are currently closed indefinitely due to Coronavirus. How does a girl’s experience with Binti Shupavu help her cope with the disruption, stress, and uncertainty of the pandemic? The Binti Shupavu management team tells us the different ways the girls will survive and thrive – and continue to blossom.
Chausiku Mkuya – Binti Shupavu Project Manager (Arusha)
The whole new experience of working from home has made it not possible to meet our Scholars face to face. Through our Binti curriculum, Scholars learned the proper use of technology, especially in sending and receiving information. We are witnessing the impact of that lesson now as Scholars and their families depend on the critical health information shared by Mentors from approved sources.
Asimwe Suedi – Binti Shupavu Project Manager (Moshi)
This tragedy is destructive for so many people and it is easy for someone to give up and think “why should I keep doing anything when the situation is so uncertain.” Girls who have been in Binti Shupavu have been exposed to skills, knowledge, discussion, and scenarios about internal motivation. Mentors’ conversations with their Scholars are showing that they are staying self-determined and focused and remember their goals, no matter what is happening around them.
Subira Manyama – Binti Shupavu Asst. Project Manager (Arusha)
During this period, Binti Shupavu has helped girls to be more resilient, no matter what they are going through at home. They can stand up for themselves and call their Binti Mentors whenever they need help or comfort, and share what is going on in their lives. The girls can also practice what they have been learning at school in their Binti lessons, such as using the personal timetables they made to plan out their studies.
Mary Maika – Binti Shupavu Asst. Project Manager (Moshi)
The Scholars are fearing that they are missing out during this period of staying at home, but the Mentors keep on reassuring them that they have the necessary skills: flexibility, adaptability, creativity, and emotional intelligence. This helps wipe away those fears. Some households treat an educated young girl as the one who is empowered to handle family matters. Their leadership will help keep their family members safe without worrying.
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.
This blog is dedicated to Julia Gatten, in recognition and appreciation of her tremendous contribution to AfricAid for 4 years. Julia is pictured at the top of this blog with a group of Binti Shupavu Scholars on her visit to Tanzania in October, 2017. Julia’s passion for using beautiful words and images to promote the cause of girls’ education and the impactful work of AfricAid comes through in her many creations as Communications Director, particularly the AfricAid, Kisa Project, and Binti Shupavu logos and branding. Thank you, Julia. We wish you the best in your future endeavors.