Preparing for our Big Day
Our venue on Career Day will be bigger than most local villages around here!
Without a doubt, Career Day is AfricAid’s biggest day of the year – times two! At this event, Kisa Scholars get the opportunity to all come together and meet each other as well as interact with passionate and accomplished Tanzanian women leaders. It is really like our own Annual Women’s Leadership Conference. The Scholars’ minds are be opened to new life possibilities and they begin building professional networks.
Again in 2018, there are two Career Day events in both of the Districts where we work: Kilimanjaro District on October 6 and Arusha District on October 13. The preparations to get over 1,700 young women transported from 28 schools to the venues is a logistical and organizational challenge. Including the professionals who come to speak and lead small group break-out sessions, and the entire Tanzanian AfricAid staff, there are an estimated 2,020 people involved. Planning has kept us busy for many months, in between all our other responsibilities. All of AfricAid’s staff are joining hands and putting in a major effort towards making the day a success. We are certainly learning a lot about event management along the way!
My name is Subira Manyama and I am a Kisa Mentor. I was appointed the lead organizer of Career Day in the Moshi office and began planning in June. This blog is about our staff’s experience in preparing for the Kilimanjaro Region program. We are keeping in mind the lessons we have learned from previous years, but this year the number of attendees has almost doubled! We have four new schools joining us, as well as some Binti Shupavu Scholars coming on this big day.
Anticipation for the day is growing. The Mentors have been talking about the day with their Scholars and School Liaisons for a long time now. A Binti Shupavu Scholar from Nasra captures the rising emotion: “I am so excited to attend the Career Day! At first I never knew what it was, but after receiving several clarifications from Madam Rachel, it seems a great day where I will learn and harvest great knowledge from the event.”
At this time our Mentors’ productivity is at its highest. It has been demonstrated individually and through team work. The planning is so complex that we had to divide responsibilities into various working groups.
- The Transport Working Group has a mighty big budget and very involved schedule of activities. They have gained permits and arranged an enormous fleet of buses by negotiating with schools and local organizations to supply the buses.
- The Venue and Food Work Group hires tables, tents, caterers, and sets up the environment. They arrange the menu and locate a venue that can accommodate such a big group of people. What direction is the sun in early October? Where should we put the main speaker stage? This group has done all the research. Kisa Project Manager, Magdalena Kitinya arranged for the DJ.
- The Small Leader Working Group has asked our friends, former AfricAid colleagues, our colleagues in our office building, our family members, our old teachers, our School Liaisons – anyone who will give up their day to come speak with our Scholars about their profession. This group began by surveying all the Scholars for their professional interests, then persuaded professionals to come, arranged transport, and will look after the visitors on the day.
- The T-shirt Working Group has the responsibility of clothing 2,000 people with the right sized T-shirt, in the right color, depending on whether they are guests, staff or Scholars. It was put to a vote, and the color of the day is mustard.
- The Gift Working Group has trolled the local markets finding a little something for the guest speakers, School Liaisons and Kisa Alumnae volunteers to show our appreciation for all the hard work they have given us over the year.
- The Decoration Working Group has their work on the day of the event and has to arrive very early.
- The First Aid Working Group is prepared to respond to any issues.
We think we are ready! We have a ten-page Action Plan and all the budgets from the working groups have been prepared and submitted to me. We have one more staff-wide meeting before the big day.
We have all learned so many new skills. I have appreciated the chance to get more experience in event management. I have learned about leadership too. You can’t just tell people what to do. You have to start doing it, and then you can more easily get people to follow and help you. Others have learned things too: “I learned how useful it is to use your networks,” says Agatha Chaima, a Kisa Mentor who used her journalist background to arrange media coverage. “I called my friends, and they knew who I should call.”
“I have had to manage my time well. To arrange the small group leaders has been complicated. I had to use lots of organizational and planning skills. I had to communicate formally with emails and face-to-face with people in our building,” says Sarafina Kifaru, a Kisa Mentor.
This year, for the first time, we have extended our invitations to Binti Shupavu Scholars from schools that have Kisa programs too. It is a great opportunity and an inspirational activity which will open wide their eyes towards education and life. Rachel, one of our Binti Shupavu Mentors shares her views on this: “I feel so happy and excited for my Scholars to have this great experience as they will get to know more about careers and life. It is a big motivation for them to work hard and aim to join schools with the Kisa Project in the future in order to become ambassadors to other Binti Scholars.”
It is interesting to think about how the young women who are coming to the Career Day this year may well be the organizers of the event in a few years’ time. Ndiini Kidoko, a Kisa Mentor whose responsibility was arranging plans for the guest speakers had this to say: ”When I was a Kisa Scholar, I really enjoyed Career Day without a blink of thought that it took so much hard work and team work to organize that big day. Today, as a Kisa Mentor, I have realized we must be devoted to putting in a lot of effort for our girls to have the best possible experience. They will have the best memories of 2018 Career Day!”