Turning Knowledge into Action
What is knowledge good for it if is not use to bring about change?
Not applying what we know does not help make a difference. That is why it is so important to put what you know into action.
“Two years ago, as a Kisa Scholar, I was trained on the good qualities of a leader. A phrase that replays in my head from the training is that a socially responsible leader gives back to her community,” said Saada Sanga, a Kisa Project Alumna who is proud to share her story.
Saada is from Mbeya and is a 2017 Kisa graduate from Mawenzi Secondary School in Moshi. She is now in her second year at University of Dar es Salaam pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in education. She strongly believes the notion that “community is where you are and you should make a difference there, even if it is your temporary place.” This was her motivation in creating the Rise-Up Movement.
Just after enrolling in university, Saada assessed the environment near the school and looked for a community service opportunity. How did she know to do this? The Kisa Project! She explains, “As I arrived in Dar es Salaam, it reminded me of the region I came from. I took time to visit some schools, did an assessment, and identified that students need more than what the school syllabus provides for them.”
The Rise-Up Movement is a small organization focusing on inspiring and adding value to the lives of school aged youth. The network currently has 20 university members who are grouped according to their skills, strengths, and passions. Each member of the group positively impacts their community by speaking to school groups consisting of both boys and girls. The members have to confidently speak of their talent and what it has helped them achieve in order to inspire and motivate their audience and be regarded as role models.
The organization is in its final stages of registration, but has already started making an impact. Saada and her university classmates have visited 7 secondary schools in 3 regions. During their university holidays, they travel further afield to visit schools outside Dar es Salaam.
Here are basic components of the Rise-Up Movement that Saada established:
- Dialogue Programs: Members discuss current issues with students after doing research in order to be knowledgeable on strategies to combat the issues with detailed data. Students and teachers often pick topics relating to academic excellence, but there are other non-academic topics that are important for students to understand.
- Girls Clubs: Girls need special encouragement and a supportive environment in order to stay in school and maximize their potential. The Rise-Up Moment aims to establish this circle of sharing at each school.
- Nurturing Talents Program: This includes a campaign called “Search Yourself,” which encourages students to keep their talents alive even though they are focused on studying. They start talent clubs at school and organize competitions, recognizing the young people who express their dedication to their passion.
- Inspiration Chambers: They find inspirational figures in Tanzanian society to give motivational speeches to the students, including quotes to encourage the youth to embrace their identity and self-worth.
Recently, the members of the Rise-Up Movement went to Africana Secondary School to have a dialogue about important things that help a student excel in their academics, along with obstacles and how to overcome them. They shared different studying techniques that worked for them. They inspired them by letting them know that it is possible to make it to university despite the challenges they may be facing and that they can create the future that they have always wished for their family and communities by being changemakers. The students were very engaged and asked many questions, particularly relating to the career goals they wished to pursue when they reach university. They wanted to know how it was possible to manage a college schedule while finding time to give back to their communities. The answer from the members: peers cooperating and supporting each other.
Practical Lessons from Kisa
Saada reflects, “Many of the skills I learned in Kisa were very useful in starting the Rise-Up Movement. These include community assessment, visionary leadership, proactivity, collective decision making, and many others. Before starting the organization, community assessment helped me determine the issues our elite young stars who we expect to be changemakers are facing. I had done an assessment before in my 2 Day Challenge project. It would not have been easy for me to build my team without the knowledge of strengths and weaknesses of different leadership styles. In the lesson on collective decision making we learned how to make a constitution. This helped my team in making our constitution, which is required by the government for registration.”
All of the Kisa lessons come together in one culminating project, the 2 Day Challenge, which is a community give-back project. (There have been many impactful 2DC projects!) For their project, Saada’s team created a vegetable garden at an orphanage to help the children have easy access to vegetables, and also taught them to maintain it. After completing her 2 Day Challenge, Saada’s interest in helping her community was piqued. She did not want to stop there. I thought, “Even if I am not able to completely eradicate a particular challenge, I will have at least created a seed for change.”
Saada’s other major influence was her Kisa Mentor, Magdalena Kitinya. Magdalena shared many examples of how she had made a difference in her community. She would say, “My dear girls, you don’t have to wait for the government to solve the challenges we encounter in our society.”
It is gratifying to know that Kisa Alumnae uphold their responsibility to give back to their communities, even if Mentors are not there to supervise them. This reflects true and lasting leadership. Saada is just one example among many Kisa Alumnae who are creating ripples in their communities. They are not waiting to be employed to start making an impact, and they are enlisting other youth in their campaigns for change.
They are living the Theodore Roosevelt quote, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Read other inspirational stories of high achieving Kisa Alumnae!