“How Can I Help Other Girls?”
The Kisa Project develops Tanzanian girls’ natural leadership abilities by providing information and skills that they generally do not receive in their regular A-Level classroom. Throughout the two-year program, Kisa Scholars learn to identify problems in their communities and come up with sustainable solutions, by organizing, analyzing, and communicating. Scholars form teams and undertake a hands-on project, called the 2 Day Challenge, at the end of the program.
Some girls, however, have such a strong passion to immediately improve their communities, that they dive right in, before they have even graduated from high school. Kisa Mentors refer to these Scholars as the “Daring Girls.” These Scholars have smart and unique ideas, and are not afraid to implement them. Meet one Daring Girl.
Stella is a Form Six student from Magadini Secondary School. She was raised in a single parent household and is the second of two children. Her spirit of wanting to help fellow girls started when she was very young. Whenever there was an opportunity to join an organization that enabled her to learn new things outside of school, she jumped at the chance. In Primary and Secondary School, she was part of Kiwakuki Youth Cooperation, Girl Guides, Shining Star, Don Bosco, and now, the Kisa Project.
“The Kisa Project makes me feel good and confident. I believe in myself through the skills, knowledge, and real-life examples my Mentors have shared with me.”
The project that Stella spearheaded is called “Menstrual Hygiene” and supports girls who cannot afford to buy pads so that they can be happy, confident, and continue to attend school even when they are having their period. A tragic story was the impetus for Stella to begin supporting girls in this specific way.
“I remember when I was in primary school, a girl killed herself because some boys and girls laughed at her because her skirt was dirty when she had her period. In my neighborhood and at my school, boys and girls made jokes about girls when they had their period, which made them lose confidence and miss class. This will forever stick in my mind and as I grew, I thought ‘How can I help other girls?’”
Attending to oneself during menstruation truly was a severe problem for some girls in Stella’s rural community. Some girls were using cow dung as pads, while others had nothing at all to use and they would miss class every month.
Stella started the project at her school and around the Siha District, east of Arusha. She campaigned for and received material and financial support from her Ordinary Level Headmistress and is getting advice from both Kisa and Binti Mentors from GLAMI (Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative, formerly AfricAid TZ) at her school.
Every undertaking has its unique challenges and Kisa Scholars learn to persevere. “For my project, it has been hard to convince some people to support me due to my age. Some people say it will distract me and cause me to have low academic performance. “
Despite this, Stella managed to reach more than 50 girls inside and outside of her school with menstrual hygiene supplies. She obtained knowledge from different experts on physical and emotional changes during puberty and shared with the girls general information about menstruation and how to use pads properly. She is working to find more sponsors to support her project so that she can reach even more girls.
“My dream every day is to see a smile on someone else’s face. I can afford to take this step to put a smile on the face of a few young girls.”
Bravo, Stella. GLAMI and AfricAid are proud of you! We believe that daring girls are capable of doing great things!
Stella’s Kisa Mentor, Agatha Chaima, stayed in touch with her during her school closure due to the pandemic. Like many students, Stella did not go back home, but went to stay with a relative. Since she was not familiar with this community and she was sheltering in place, her project has been on hold. Form Six students returned to school on Monday, June 1 for a one-month preparation for their national exams. After exams are over, Stella plans to continue with this project and is grateful that her sponsor, the O-Level Headmistress, has pledged continued support.
Kisa Project is a two-year leadership course that prepares girls in their last two years of secondary school to attend university and create positive social change in their communities.