I am Who I am Today – How Kisa Changed my Life
“During challenging times, Kisa lessons provide guidance in broadening Scholars’ perspectives and turn a life of trial into a time of opportunities. This facilitates growth and creates a roadmap to proper decision making for Scholars’ success.”
Fatina Mshana, Kisa Alumna and Mentor
Fatina Mshana, a former Kisa Scholar (Arusha Secondary, Class of ’16) who has a diploma in Clinical Medicine, has returned to the organization as a role model. In her position as Kisa Mentor with Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative (GLAMI), Fatina and her manager, Magdalena Kitinya (Kisa ’13), gathered success stories from their Scholars. What these girls tell us they have learned is indicative of the program’s power for the thousands of Tanzanian girls who have benefited from the two-year extracurricular leadership course.
The sun was bright and shiny in the Tanzanian sky. Young girls were in brand new uniforms, walking around their secondary school, getting ready to assemble to listen to some guests. These girls were shy and did not want to raise their hands to ask questions or share ideas. The guests did not give up and walk away. Instead, they handed out papers for the girls to write down their ideas about joining the Kisa Project. This was the beginning – the girls wrote their own stories and the stories of their communities.
Finding and Using My Voice
Kisa builds self-esteem, which allows girls to also develop their public speaking skills. Naomi used her voice to educate other young girls about the risks of early marriage.
“I explained the benefits of protecting oneself from sexual temptations and the advantages of making decisions that focus on our goals in order for us to have a better future ahead. I started with my young sisters at home and then addressed young girls in my community. My neighbors congratulated me for my self-awareness and they appreciated me for taking this step.”
Providing for Myself
Parents in Tanzania work very hard to support their families, but often their money cannot stretch to meet all their children’s basic needs. Lillian faced economic challenges and had been wondering how she would obtain her necessary school supplies.
“Our Kisa Mentor came to school for another fabulous lesson and shared with us about entrepreneurship skills. I was really keen and attentive to these ideas. On that very day, I decided to ask my parents for a small piece of land to cultivate some vegetables. The money I got from selling the vegetables helps me buy personal items, with some left over for pocket money and to give to my parents. My parents congratulated me for being creative and supporting them. They are inspired with my contribution to the family.”
Becoming a Leader at School
Have you ever thought of becoming one of the leaders in the student body, Mentors ask their new classes of Scholars? Hope didn’t think so… until Kisa inspired her to try.
“I went to the Second Master and got an application form for Head Girl. I also convinced my friend Stara to apply for Academic Prefect. I wasn’t sure how I would conduct my campaign. Then I remembered the Kisa class about different types of leadership styles and knew I could use my public speaking skills plus my own leadership style to influence my classmates. I made an assessment around the school to understand what students’ needs were. This made me made me more effective during my campaign. Everyone was inspired and wanted me to win the position. I am very grateful for Kisa – I am who I am today because of the lessons and the effort my Mentor made toward me.”
Driving Change in My Community
Kisa Mentors use many famous quotes to inspire their Scholars, including this one by Mahatma Gandi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Beatrice was always motivated to make suggestions in her community, but since she was a young girl, people tended to ignore her.
“Since becoming a Kisa Scholar, I conducted interviews with different people in my community in order to know different assets and challenges. Through this assessment, I was able to determine specifically what I want to do for my community. Kisa’s ‘Community Assessment’ lesson helped me improve my communication skills and now I can give my opinion during small community meetings.”
Kisa’s 2 Day Challenge is a capstone project in which teams of Scholars do this very thing in their communities – identify a problem, then propose a solution, and organize to implement it. Learn More.
Coping with a Pandemic
It was March 17, 2020 and girls were seated under trees, holding their lunch plates. The weather was good and a small breeze from the trees made the meal taste better. Suddenly the bell rang and the girls were called to assembly. The Head of School announced that the government had closed school indefinitely due to COVID-19 disease. Vanessa described her reaction to this news.
“I like when my Mentor comes to class for Kisa lessons because she also shares about what is going on around the world. Since we are at boarding school, it is hard for us to hear any news except when she comes. She updated us about COVID-19 and its symptoms. We had the chance to share our feelings about this terrifying pandemic disease. But, through affirming one another we reminded ourselves that we can be proactive by helping one another and studying effectively. This is what we have learned from Kisa.”
Two friends, Anna and Joyce, also discussed their fears and frustrations with the situation. Anna said she did not want to go back home without first finishing her national exams and that she was feeling depressed. Joyce quickly ran back to class and returned with her Kisa notebook.
“Anna, do you remember when we learned about ‘Leadership Principles,’ especially Nelson Mandela’s? He said ‘I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”
“Oh, Joyce, thank you for being a great friend. I think I already know what steps I can take to overcome this situation!”
We know that Kisa Scholars go on to create positive social change in their communities through these formative lessons. They become empowered to make good decisions and develop strategies to deal with both personal and academic issues. Mentors like Fatina and Magdalena support these girls to gain confidence and improve their communications skills and encourage them to become resilient to all the challenges they face.
AfricAid works to improve the standing of women in society through robust, locally-led mentorship initiatives that cultivate confidence, improve academic and health outcomes, and promote socially-responsible leadership skills. In close partnership with our sister organization, GLAMI (Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative), we support mentorship opportunities that help secondary school girls in Tanzania complete their education, develop into confident leaders, and transform their own lives and their communities.