For this blog, we ask you to imagine a bridge – both literally and figuratively. There are many points on earth that cannot be crossed unless there is a bridge. We don’t have wings to fly, but we can use bridges to connect places that have been separated by nature. Bridges help us meet each other and connect.
The best way to describe a Binti Shupavu Liaison is as a bridge. These individuals are collaborators and connectors, who establish and maintain relationships between AfricAid and the schools we partner with, and thus make our program run smoothly.
Who are the Binti Shupavu Liaisons? Liaisons are teachers from our Partner Schools who act as middlewomen between the Binti Shupavu project team and the schools that host the Binti Shupavu classes. We have at least one Liaison at each of the 22 Binti Shupavu Partner Schools who works with our team to connect us with the school staff, the Scholars, and their parents.
Our Liaisons have been supporting us in different ways, including ensuring that the Partner Schools are well prepared for the Binti Shupavu classes and provide classroom space, explaining the benefits of Binti Shupavu and motivating Scholars to participate in the program, communicating with Mentors about the school schedule, and ensuring good communication between the Binti Shupavu Mentors and Scholars. They really are Binti Shupavu’s ambassadors to school staff, Scholars, and parents.
This is not a one-way bridge. We are proud that we offer support to the Liaisons while at the same time they support us. Liaisons are provided with counseling training so that they can assist and encourage Scholars – this actually helps students school-wide. AfricAid also supports Liaisons with frequent meetings, during which they can suggest improvements and air concerns. This mutually beneficial relationship allows us to achieve a better outcome.
What do the Liaisons say about their role?
“Being a Binti Shupavu Liaison is not easy. It requires patience and commitment, devoting your time to talk and listen to these girls, as they all have different personalities and problems. I am thankful to AfricAid for the basic counseling training that they provided to all of us Liaisons. The training helped me better understand the girls and also helped me build good relationships with my co-workers by sharing with them the Enneagram personality test (a guide to identifying and understanding one’s personality type).” Madam Grace – Binti Shupavu Liaison from Mateves Secondary School
“I have always wanted to help these girls and now I’m a part of the Binti Shupavu program so I can. I am glad that I get to help these girls whenever they need my help. I listen to their thoughts and am happy that they are courageous. I believe they will do well academically.” Madam Upendo – Binti Shupavu Liaison from Mukulat Secondary School (also shown at far left in the photo at the top with the Binti Shupavu team from the Arusha office)
Joseph Straus once said, “Bridges are monument to progress.” We are able to work effectively with the schools because our Liaisons ensure good communication and feedback. We find them to be both a cooperative and an idealistic group of like-minded women who support our mission – the most reliable and sturdy bridge you can imagine!
Learn more about Binti Shupavu’s Liaisons:
Note: AfricAid’s US office, with 3 staff members, interns, and volunteers, is located at the Posner Center for International Development in Denver, CO. This former horse stable dating to 1872 houses a large number of non-profits and social enterprises all working to find collaborative, sustainable solutions to global issues. It is a very unique environment found nowhere else in the United States.
One of the other members housed at the Posner Center is the organization Bridges to Posperity, which teaches people to build footbridges around the world. This ability to cross a ravine, canyon, or river improves their standard of living by helping to connect them with healthcare, education, and economic markets.