“People may think investing in girls is a waste of time, but no!” she said.
She certainly grabbed my attention! I became eager to know more about this girl and what exactly she was trying to convey. Just a week after I learned her story, I got an email notification – I had been tasked with writing a blog post that highlighted one of my Kisa Scholars. I knew immediately exactly who I was going to write about!
Meet Namayai, a positive-minded Year One Kisa Scholar from Msangeni Secondary School, who always focuses on helping, supporting, and encouraging others to do their best. She tells people to use their “today” and not wait for their “tomorrow.” One of her mottos is “Today’s first.” Namayai will do anything to make sure people know their responsibilities and carry them out to the best of their abilities.
Last fall, Namayai joined Msangeni for her Advanced-Level studies and encountered the Kisa Project. She was so happy to be among the program’s beneficiaries. “I wonder why I did not meet you when I was doing my Ordinary Level studies?” Namayai muses. “I have never met people like you who can inspire and challenge me like this! I am so happy to know about Kisa!”
Soon after we were done with Unit 1, which is all about personal leadership and how to practice our leadership style, Namayai wanted to put her newfound knowledge to use. “I have to practice what I have learned from Kisa the entire year!” she said. This is where her change journey started.
Namayai began understanding the challenges at her school by asking her fellow students questions. It soon became clear that poor academic performance among Ordinary Level students was an issue, especially their national exam results in Forms Two and Four. Namayai dug further into this issue and found that the reason behind this unsatisfactory track record was the absence of anyone to help these students in setting goals, time management, and study skills. There was no one to teach them outside of regular class hours, since Msangeni is a government school that is lacking in resources. (AfricAid’s Binti Shupavu program is not offered in this school.)
Namayai decided to take this as an opportunity to practice her leadership skills and suggested to her fellow Form Five and Six classmates that they could help. Unfortunately, her peers were not enthusiastic, and some of them laughed at her. “She thinks she can change this school’s performance… she won’t,” some of the Form Six students said behind her back.
But Namayai was determined. “Our Kisa Mentors tell us ‘It seems impossible until it’s done.’ So, I won’t give up!” She continued sharing the beautiful vision of her school as she believed it could look. This image occupied her mind and she kept thinking of what the entire community would think: “they will be so proud of the academic results and Msangeni will be listed as the BEST government school!”
In order to see her vision come to fruition, Namayai came up with an action plan. She would form study groups. She started by determining the number of Form Two and Four students at the school, and divided them into groups of five so that it would be easier to help them. She ended up with 30 groups. After that, she went back to her fellow Form Five and Six students to share this strategy, but only a few agreed to take part.
Namayai then came up with a new goal – one thing could lead to another! She decided to run for the position of Head Girl so that she would have more power:
- To convince the school administration to work with her,
- To convince Form Two and Four students to spend extra time at school after class, and
- To convince fellow A-Level students to help mentor their younger classmates.
She campaigned on the platform of her leadership helping improve overall school performance, which would be a source of pride for everyone. She won! Namayai was elected Head Girl.
The skills Namayai learned through Kisa became her tools of action. She applied them toward advocating for change at her school. In the end, Namayai succeeded in convincing her fellow Form Five students, along with all the Kisa Scholars, to help their young brothers and sisters. They currently work in pairs to help 150 other students set goals, manage their time, and discuss difficulties they encounter in and out of school.
Binti Shupavu, AfricAid’s program to help Ordinary Level girls complete their first four years of secondary school is in 22 schools in Tanzania, but cannot be at every school. Namayai has singlehandedly brought the same type of valuable information and support to her school.
Wow, Namayai! We are so very proud of you!
Read more inspirational stories like this one about Kisa and Binti Shupavu Scholars!