March 17, 2015- Meet the Kisa Project Managers
AfricAid’s flagship program, the Kisa Project, is carried out in Arusha and Kilimanjaro Regions of Northern Tanzania. Eight staff work full-time developing, implementing and evaluating the Project.
The purpose of the Kisa Project is to deliver leadership and life skills training and mentoring to Tanzanian secondary school girls so that those girls gain new skills, increase their resilience, and become capable, confident young women who will be catalysts for change in Tanzanian society.
We currently employ a Country Director, an Operations Manager, two Kisa Project Managers, three Kisa Mentors, and a driver, who ensures Mentors make each Kisa Class safely, and on time.
In this post, we’d like to introduce you to our two Kisa Project Managers – Esther and Devotha. The success of the Project relies heavily on having active, engaged and passionate Project Managers and the great results for the Project to date are, in no short measure, the result of the efforts of Devotha and Esther.
Esther has more than 5 years’ experience with Kisa. She comes from a background in teaching English and Geography at the secondary school level and has an education degree from the University of Dar es Salaam. As a Kisa Project Manager, she draws on her own experiences as a leader in her community in order to be a role model to the Kisa Scholars. She hopes to inspire her students to find the confidence necessary to bring about change in their own communities.
Esther says that one of the things she loves most about her job is being part of theAfricAid team, especially “the way we work together and support each other as part of the AfricAid family”. She is continually inspired by “being part of a girl's life change. I am inspired seeing a girl grow and come to realize her potential, gradually taking responsibility for her own life and that of her community”.
Esther speaking at Career Day Women's Leadership Conference 2014
Esther with her year two Kisa Scholars at Engutoto Secondary School
Devotha commenced with AfricAid as a Kisa Mentor in January 2013 and holds a bachelor’s degree in language studies and has a background in project management. As a Mentor, Devotha advises young women to work hard so as to reach their dreams. Devotha believes that the way to success is having goals, and that a woman can achieve her goals only by working hard and remaining positive. She also believes that by mentoring young women in leadership, they can change their societies into a better place.
“What I love most about my job is the fact that it allows me to learn from other girls, but also to share my experience with them, inspire them and help them to become a source of positive change in their lives and their communities”.
She says that one of her most inspiring moments working on Kisa came “when AfricAid management trusted me and let me lead the opening of our new branch in Kilimanjaro Region. That moment proved to me that I have grown, and people trust me enough to give me such a huge responsibility”.
Devotha rewarding a certificate to a graduating Kisa Scholar
Devotha with her class at Weru Weru Secondary School
In a lovely twist, Esther and Devotha both attended secondary schools with whom we now partner – Maasae Girls, and Machame Girls, respectively, so they are also in a great position to foster those relationships. Esther is further able to empathize with Kisa Scholars, given that she was the first in her family to complete secondary school, let alone go to university.
Esther and Devotha are just two of the amazing women behind the Kisa Project. Stayed tuned if you’d like to meet more of AfricAid’s staff in Tanzania.
By: Ngaire McCubben, Communications, External Relations and Fundraising Officer, Tanzania
March 10, 2015- A Step Towards Leadership
Moringe's Head of School Hands Out Certificates
Kisa Mentor Devotha Gives Feedback to Presenters
Orkeeswa Student Giving Her Presentation
The End of Year One Presentations is an AfricAid Kisa Project event normally conducted after the completion of Kisa year one curriculum. This event is an output of the Community Assessments the Kisa Scholars do during the holiday in their communities. The main aim is to identify different social problems prevailing in their communities that help them to build innovative visions for their communities and hence come up with creative and sustainable solutions to the problem. Before the presentation day Kisa Scholars have to prepare a paper including their visions for the community, descriptions of the problem, personal leadership (including their weaknesses, strengths and goals), descriptions of the solution to the problem, and a team that will work together with them in implementing the solution. The presentations include everything they have learnt from day one of Kisa classes.
In this event Kisa Scholars get an opportunity to present in front of a panel of judges and an audience. The judges invited on this special day are the AfricAid Kisa friends from different NGO`s in Arusha and Moshi while the audiences are the students from the same school and other partner schools who are looking forward to their End of Year One Presentations.
In co- educational schools, we encourage Kisa Scholars to invite many boys as the audience so as to recognize the improvements of their fellows as they have been with them for a year or more than one year. This brings very positive feedback from the boys as they all appreciate the good work done by their fellow students. They say things like “Kisa is really doing amazing work, these girls were very shy when we joined the school, no one was able to stand in front of the public and express her ideas, but today we have witnessed their improvements, they are all confident, creative, hardworking and very responsible”.
AfricAid conducts this event to: train Kisa Scholars to become socially responsible leaders; to assess how creative and responsible the Scholars are; to see to what extent have they improved their confidence from day one of Kisa classes; and to evaluate their public speaking skills.
On 28th February AfricAid conducted the End of Year One Presentations. The event was held at Moringe Sokoine Secondary School in Monduli. This was the biggest End of Year One Presentation as it involved three AfricAid partner schools (Moringe Sokoine Secondary School, Orkeeswa Secondary School and Maasai Girls Secondary School).
In the morning Kisa Scholars presented different social problems in front of the panel of judges. Topics included: female genital mutilation; rape, road accidents; early pregnancy; lack of women’s involvement in leadership positions; lack of clean and safe water; polygamy; and unemployment.
In the afternoon after the presentations we all gathered in one big hall that was prepared for the celebrations. The Head of Moringe Sokoine Secondary School was invited as the Guest Speaker and he joined us in this second part of the event. This is the part where judges gave feedback on things Scholars need to improve and also compliment the presenters on the things they did well. The best presenter from each room was recognized and presents were given to each.
The Guest Speaker Hon Mr. Ndesamburo, had time to give a speech, before handing out certificates of completion of Year One to 35 scholars who did their presentations that day. In his speech he congratulated the Kisa Scholars from his school by being the role models to other students and emphasized to every Kisa Scholar to continue with that sprit.
By: Hadija Hassan, Kisa Mentor
February 15, 2015- Recruitment of New Kisa Scholars
Kisa Class Captain shared her experience of Kisa with new recruits
Kisa Project Manager Esther Piniel interviews an applicant
Kisa Mentor Eligrania Lema interviews an applicant
Recruitment is an annual process done in two parts, one, the introduction of AfricAid and the Kisa Project to prospective Kisa Scholars, and two, interviews for the girls who are interested. At the beginning of each school year, at schools the Project has already partnered with, we introduce AfricAid and the Kisa Project to new comers to encourage them to join the Project.
The nominated Kisa Mentor works with the School Liaisons and the Kisa Year Two Scholars at their particular school. The Year Two Scholars share their Kisa experience so far, how Kisa has changed their lives, and how they have improved compared to how they were before they joined Kisa. They provide examples of this change so that prospective Kisa Scholars can see the benefits.
The second part of the recruitment process involves providing an application form to those new comers who are interested in joining Kisa. In the forms it mentions that there will be a simple oral interview for each individual girl in order to get to know them personally and to learn their individual stories. This interview plays a huge part in their selection process because we get to find out about their interests in leadership and if they seek to improve not only their lives but that of their society in order to be accepted to join the Project.
Recruitment at Moringe Sokoine Secondary School started on the 4th of February. We had 17 girls present and 5 more girls who expressed their desire to join Kisa but couldn’t be present at the meeting for various reasons. We coordinated with the School Liaison to get the girls all in one place so that they could hear what Kisa is all about.
Swiftly we began talking about AfricAid and its projects, Kisa being the biggest one. We talked about all the other schools which AfricAid has partnered with and the annual events that are also part of Kisa. These events provide an opportunity for Scholars to meet successful leaders and of course other Kisa Scholars from all other partner schools.
As we had organized for the Year Two Kisa Class Captain to talk about her Kisa experience so far, she took over and got the girls excited by asking them questions about their confidence, their future dreams, and their role models, including what they would ask them if they got a chance to meet them. Then she proceeded to talk about the status quo in our societies today and what she had learned about how the society thinks of her and how she perceives herself.
After she was done talking about her experience in Kisa we rounded off by providing application forms to the girls and with excitement they each took the one, which we collected the following Saturday.
Interviews were scheduled for the following week and the team was greeted by an anxious group of 20 girls from as young as 15 years old to 21. One by one, as called by name, they walked into the interview room and we had the opportunity to start getting to know each girl, especially what challenges they face in their communities and what kind of changes they would like to see happen. Some were brilliant and able to express themselves well; others knew what they wanted to say and although they lacked the English words to express themselves fully, they showed an eagerness to be part of the project. All in all the recruitment process went smoothly and we are excited about working with a new group of Kisa Scholars.
By: Eligrania Lema, Kisa Mentor
January 31, 2015- How Do You Decide Who’s Most Worthy of Help?
Margaret is studying law at Tumaini University
In November last year, our Tanzania Board of Trustees was faced with one of their more difficult annual tasks. Along with AfricAid staff, days were spent poring over applications from 26 very worthy Kisa graduates for the University Scholarship Program we administer. The fund supports graduates who are unable to enroll in university without assistance.
The total amount requested far exceeded the available funds. The problem was that every single applicant could make a compelling case for support. In a country where just 26% of women make it to the secondary school level, and only 3% to tertiary education, the fact that each girl had obtained a place at university was in itself an achievement against the odds.
After much discussion, the Board decided that there was no one application they could reject. Everyone would get something, but it wouldn’t be the amount originally applied for. Each applicant, with one exception, got about half of what they asked for – a small contribution towards their tuition fees. The rest of the cost of the tuition, and all living and other course-related costs would be raised by the student from elsewhere.
There was one particular student who stood out from the rest. Margaret had been one of the most dedicated Kisa Scholars our mentors had worked with. She had even volunteered her time extensively to assist AfricAid staff with running the annual Career Day event. She approached university with the same commitment, getting her application in early, carefully making sure she’d done as much as she possibly could to convince the Trustees to support her request, and following up with AfricAid staff to see how her application was progressing. Subsequently, Margaret has had the full cost of her tuition covered for the 2014-2015 university year. She is studying law at Tumaini University, Makumira.
26 Kisa graduates commenced or returned to university in October. They are studying things like education, sociology, law, business administration, finance and accounting and health sciences. They are changing the face of Tanzanian society. They are challenging stereotypes, breaking down barriers, and making Tanzania a more equitable place. We can only say that we are incredibly honored to watch these strong young women carve out a path for themselves and write a very different story than the one that might have been expected. They are why we do what we do, and they are all worthy!
January 15, 2015 - A Big Year Ahead
L-R- Oscar, Monica, Gladys, Hadija, Esther, Eligrania, Tait, Devotha, Jana
Happy new year to all our friends and supporters. After a well-earned break, AfricAid Tanzania staff returned to work on the 5th of January and were rapidly back into full swing. We have a busy and exciting year ahead as the Kisa Project, our flagship project, continues to expand.
In 2014, 97 Tanzanian secondary school girls graduated from the two-year leadership and life skills training program (‘Kisa Classes’). 95 of these graduates were accepted into university and are doing degrees such as education, law, sociology, and finance. 123 girls progressed to Year Two of the program, and 300 girls commenced their first year. We’re incredibly proud of their achievements, often under very difficult circumstances. Seeing them grow in self-belief is one of the great delights of the work that we do.
In 2014 we partnered with 13 different schools across two regions in Northern Tanzania; Arusha and Kilimanjaro. Given the demand for the work we do through the Kisa Project, in 2015 we will add four new schools in Kilimanjaro Region, where demand is highest. The beginning of the new school year for advanced level secondary school students is in August, and so the months leading up to the start of the new school year will be spent preparing for the increased number of girls benefitting from the Kisa Project. As a result, we’ll be expanding the number of young Tanzanian women we employ as mentors by recruiting two Kisa Graduates who have finished their university degrees.
We’re looking forward to mentoring and teaching around 800 girls over the course of 2015, as well as developing our new partnerships, and holding another successful Career Day for more than 600 girls. We look forward to doing our bit to ensure that young Tanzanian women have the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to improve their lives and the lives of other women in Tanzania by working toward a more equitable society which both seeks, and values, the contribution of women.
Past Blogs (Prior to 2015)
New AfricAid video made by Colorado Academy student Ian Welty
Two Kisa Scholars chosen from Orkeeswa Secondary School to Participate in the U.S. Embassy's Youth Leadership Exchange program
We at AfricAid are over the moon excited that two star Kisa Scholars from Orkeeswa Secondary School, Margareth Melkiori and Victoria Samora, have been selected to join the next two groups of the U.S. Embassy's Youth Leadership Exchange program! We couldn't be happier for these girls winning this truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Scholars were chosen based on their impressive leadership and academic skills. We wish them the best of luck and can't wait to hear about their adventures and experiences in the program!
How Hollywood is Still Typecasting Women
Here is an interesting read on how the media typecasts women in stereotypical, sexualized or less-powerful roles. “If the cultural message is continually that women aren’t equal, then it’s tearing down the other efforts.” Click here to check out the full article and read how media ALSO has the power to uplift!
Kisa's Career Day Inspires and Amazes All in Attendance!
It was a beautiful sunny Saturday morning on August 27, 2011, unlike any regular day in Arusha. The promise of a good day was in the air; all of our Career Day guests were happy with the weather and so were the AfricAid and Kisa staff. We had been planning and looking forward to that day for months. Anande, Kisa project manager, a Kisa mentor and I arrived to the Career day site at Via Via Restaurant (known as “the meeting place” around Arusha town) at 9am in the morning. We had had a busy day the day prior, but that didn’t lessen our excitement for the event and for the speeches to be delivered to our Kisa girls.
Kisa's Career Day was meant to serve as an inspiration for the girls enrolled in AfricAid's program called Kisa; for those who aren't familiar with Kisa, this program is an AfricAid initiative to teach high school girls leadership and life skills. This year is the first time AfricAid hosted a Career Day so we were all very excited and a little nervous to see how it would go. The goal of the day was to have our professional, dynamic female Tanzanian guest speakers share their personal stories with our Kisa girls, to inspire them and to teach them that true success comes through overcoming obstacles and hardships in life. The hope was that our students would learn to see obstacles or challenges as an inspiration to work harder, a chance to become stronger, rather than a stop sign on the road to success.
Our first guest, Ms. Irene Kiwia, a model and President of Frontline Porter- Novelli and Alumna of the State Department’s fortune 500 Program, arrived soon after we arrived at ViaVia. She explained how she got to where she is today because of her enthusiasm and how she believed in herself, even though she seemed to be the last person to deserve the position based on her experience. She is truly a heroin in her life and now she is a heroin to Kisa girls.
The following speakers, Magreth Kaduma, the founder of an orphan center called CHASAWAYA in Makambako and serves as a Diwani or civil counselor in Njombe, Hellen Joram, the Sales and Marketing Manager of the reputable Creative Studios in Arusha, Mrs. Theopista Seuya, the Headmistress of Peace House Secondary school, a private school for vulnerable children in Arusha, and Ms. Amabilis Batamula, a Fema Tv talk show host, all told amazing stories and told the girls to fight for their dreams.
Career Day was not only an event to inspire Kisa girls, but it inspired everyone who attended the event in one way or another. Our guest speakers' stories bore serious messages that will help many get through difficult times and reach their dreams despite any obstacle that may occur on the way. All our guests had different messages but they all had one theme that was most important for anyone to have: believing in one's strength and what one can do. Even when the whole world is against you and what you want, if you have faith in your own ability/ies, then you can make it through anything and reach your dream/s. After all, what would the good times mean if it weren't for the bad times?
Tanzanian Girls are Risking Rape for an Education
For many young girls in rural Tanzania, the commute to and from school can be a dangerous one. So in order to live closer to their schools, girls often live far away from their families in dangerous, cramped areas called "ghettos" where they risk the chance of being raped or harassed. Unfortunately, the frequency of sexual harassment has resulted in girls not being able to finish their secondary education. Drop-out rates at some schools are up to 20 percent, mostly because of pregnancy. For more information and to learn how Tanzania plans on fixing this crisis, please click here!
AfricAid Receives Funding from the Western Union Foundation
AfricAid has received grant funds from the Western Union Foundation and is using them to help furnish new workshops at the three-year-old Muungano Vocational Centre (MVC) in Usa River, Arusha Region, Tanzania! The grant is helping provide sewing machines and other equipment for the tailoring program at MVC! AfricAid is so excited about the grant. For more information, please download the PDF about the Western Union Foundation's grants by clicking here:
AfricAid featured in The Guardian
We are so excited that AfricAid's Kisa Project has been featured in the British national daily newspaper The Guardian! We want to thank everyone for the continuous support which has made all of this possible! Asante sana! [Thank you so much!]. Click here to read the article online!
AfricAid's First Annual Trip a Huge Success
Twelve kind, curious, and adventure-seeking Americans and Canadians plus four Tanzanian schools plus three game parks plus two nights camping in the bush equals one truly amazing, once-in-a-lifetime safari.
AfricAid and Africa Adventure Consultant's first guided trip to Tanzania ends this week. Participants witnessed AfricAid's programs first-hand and got to experience Tanzanian culture through school and home visits. And, of course, it included the classic safari experience. The group visited Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti. In one day, they saw 30 lions and one leopard - and that's just the cats.
The trip provided a very unique opportunity to see life-changing programs close-up and to enter Tanzanian schools and homes. The group visited two primary schools: Upendo and Losinoni, and two secondary schools: Muungano and Arusha Secondary. There was a blend of public and private, and urban and rural schools. Still, one thing was constant; there were thousands bright, spirited, beautiful children who simply want to learn and make their lives and communities better. Children and travelers engaged in a postcard activity where each shared stories and pictures of their homes and lives at Losinoni, and sang, played, and asked questions to learn about one another at Upendo. Multiple home visits, including a visit to a traditional Maasai home, afforded the opportunity to better understand the culture in an authentic, unfiltered way.
The game park visits were extraordinary and offered the chance to see some of the famed wildebeest migration, as well as hundreds of other animals from the tiny dik dik to the mighty lion. Venturing out among a field of elephants is truly a life-changing, awe-inducing moment.
As we conclude this year's trip, we're already planning for next year. There's certainly something in the air in Africa. The smell of smoke from cooking fires and fragrant flowers mix with sounds of calling birds and the occasional distant drum. Yes, there's something magic in Tanzania and it's not just in the air; it's in the people. We hope each and every one of you can join us soon and experience it for yourself. Our 2012 trip will take place in June 2012 and will be a family-friendly trip. For more information on AfricAid and Africa Adventure Consultant's 2012 trip, please click here or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashley Shuyler selected as one of Denver's "40 Under 40"
Ashley Shuyler has been selected as one of Denver's "Forty Under 40" by the Denver Business Journal, an honor that recognizes business leaders whose efforts in the community are shaping the future of the Denver area. The award, now in its 15th year, honors business leaders whose efforts in the office and in the community are shaping the future of the Denver area. Honorees are selected on the basis of three criteria: business leadership, recognition of accomplishments and community involvement. As quoted in the Journal, Ashley recognized early on the value of an education, and “realized there could be nothing better than giving girls my own age the chance to go to school.” The article goes on to note that, under her direction, AfricAid has raised more than $1 million and provided educational assistance to some 40,000 young Tanzanians. AfricAid is proud to have Ms. Shuyler’s work recognized through this prestigious award. Click here to read the article!
AfricAid’s Impact in 2010
AfricAid would like to extend a heartfelt “thank you!” to all of its supporters for making the following educational opportunities possible for Tanzanian students in 2010:
• Kisa Project launched! AfricAid’s Kisa Project is a girls’ scholarship and leadership training program that helps young African women become leaders in their communities and nation. Kisa Scholars communicate monthly with their American sponsors through kisaproject.org.
• Within the first four months of the program, Kisa Scholars started their own small-scale social business to teach computer skills to women and students in their communities.
• The Teaching in Action teacher training program received support and recognition from the Open Society Institute and Planet Wheeler (Lonely Planet Foundation).
• Dr. Frances Vavrus led the fourth successful year of Teaching in Action, with 70 Tanzanian teachers learning how to use participatory, student-centered teaching methods. These teachers have improved the quality of education for thousands of Tanzanian students.
• With the support of NComputing, AfricAid installed three low-cost computer labs in Tanzanian schools, serving over 3,000 students.
• As a result of AfricAid’s work at Losinoni Primary School in supporting classroom construction, a solar power installation, a school lunch program and textbooks, attendance has increased by 30 percent and the graduation rate has increased from 20% to 98% in just five years! Nearly 180,000 lunches were provided at Losinoni Primary School in 2010 alone.
• With grants from Western Union and the Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation, AfricAid outfitted vocational facilities, including a tailoring workshop and computer lab, at Muungano Vocational Secondary School in Tanzania. This program is now supporting employment in the community of Usa River.
• Several former AfricAid scholarship recipients are continuing their education at teachers and nurses training colleges.
• Tanzanian girls in AfricAid’s Kisa Project created their own digital stories, sharing their experiences and hopes for the future in 3-minute videos. See these stories at www.kisaproject.org/featured-digital-stories!
AfricAid Brings Cutting-Edge Computing to the Children of Tanzania
That’s the title of a recent case study on AfricAid’s use of innovative technology in its new Kisa Project, published by NComputing, a leading global provider of low-cost, virtual desktop technology. Led by Louis Gutierrez, AfricAid’s IT Manager, the installation of the NComputing technology in the computer labs at the first two Kisa Project schools in Tanzania has already begun to revolutionize the learning experiences of thousands of young students there. By providing low-cost, low-energy, easily maintainable PC access to students in a replicable fashion, AfricAid has made it possible for its Kisa Scholars to connect with their US sponsors through the internet, and made the benefits of modern computer technology available to all the school’s students.
AfricAid’s 2009 Successes At A Glance
December 3, 2009
Here’s a quick look at what we accomplished in 2009:
• Teaching in Action and AfricAid named one of three “Champions of Quality Education in Africa” in grant competition sponsored by Ashoka Changemakers and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. 400 organizations entered and only 3 received $5,000 grants.
• Greg Mortenson, founder of the Central Asia Institute and bestselling author of Three Cups of Tea, secured a $10,000 donation to help launch the Kisa Project in January 2010
• Women’s Foundation of Colorado awarded $5,000 grant to the Kisa Project
• The third successful year of Teaching in Action brought student-centered and participatory teaching methods to 51 undertrained secondary school teachers. The teachers have, in turn, impacted the lives of 1,100 students in their schools.
• Solar power panel installed at Losinoni Primary School. The electricity is enough to power a light bulb, computer, printer, and several cell phones. Electricity will attract prospective teachers and will allow the school to teach more effectively.
• Attendance increased by 30 percent at Losinoni Primary School, due in large part to AfricAid’s school lunch program which provides one nutritious meal to Losinoni students per day.
• Outfitted vocational facilities at Muungano Secondary School in Tanzania with a grant from Western Union. As a result, students can now take computer and secretarial courses, tailoring, business management, and entrepreneurship.
• One science lab and one computer lab constructed at Ebenezer Girls’ School outside Arusha, Tanzania with the help of AfricAid and Rockland Community Church.
• Several former AfricAid scholarship students are continuing their education and teachers’ and nurses’ colleges. One such student, Theresia, was the first woman in her village to go to secondary school and is now studying to become the first female teacher in her village.
• Kisa Film Festival introduced the Denver community to the Kisa Project and the power of the digital storytelling, which will connect Kisa Scholars to their U.S. partner families and groups starting 2010. The 12 short films made by Coloradans with connections to Africa can be viewed here.
AfricAid’s New Kisa Project Featured on Colorado Public Radio
November 20, 2009
Ashley Shuyler had the opportunity to talk today about AfricAid’s new Kisa Project on CPR’s Colorado Matters on November 20th. Click here and scroll to November 20, 2009 to listen to the interview with Ashley Shuyler
The program also featured short segments from several of the digital stories created by 12 Coloradans about their various connections to Africa that were screened last month at AfricAid’s Kisa Film Festival at Denver’s Starz Film Center at the Tivoli. Videos like these will be an important aspect of the Kisa Project, helping to both better educate those in the U.S. with the realities of life in Africa, as well as create a meaningful and immediate connection between the Kisa Scholars in Tanzania and their American sponsors. The complete videos can be viewed here.
Greg Mortenson Endorses and Launches AfricAid’s new Kisa Project
September 20, 2009
“My real heart has always been in Africa. I often say I’m African– which causes confusion here in the U.S,” Greg Mortenson told a gathering of a hundred AfricAid supporters at Red Rocks Amphitheater on September 20th. The child of two missionary parents, Mortenson spent the first 15 years of his life in Tanzania. “I was so blessed to grow up on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro,” he reminisced.
Mortenson, the New York Times bestselling author of Three Cups of Tea and 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee for his work promoting education in Afghanistan and Pakistan, returned to his roots in Tanzania to help launch AfricAid’s new girls’ scholarship and leadership program, the Kisa Project. During the event, Mortenson gave a resounding and heart-felt endorsement of the new AfricAid program– which gives high school scholarships to girls, enrolls them in a two-year leadership training program, and connects them to their sponsors in the U.S. through an interactive website.
Mortenson spoke about his deep commitment to girls’ education, both in Central Asia and East Africa, and announced that he had already secured a $10,000 donation to help launch the Kisa Project in January 2010. Quoting the famous proverb in the original Swahili, “If you educate a boy, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate an entire community,” Mortenson said that women are about three times likelier than men to return to their communities after getting an education. “They teach their mothers how to read and write. They become bridges and advocates for their people, ” he said.
“If you really want to change a culture, empower women, improve basic hygiene and health care, and fight high rates of infant mortality– the answer is to educate girls.”
Mortenson also gave an inspiring update about his organization, the Central Asia Institute, which has started to build schools in the most remote communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan– in regions where even the U.S. military is unable to maintain a presence. In a telling statement about the power of using education to build peace, Mortenson said, “I often tell people that fighting terrorism is based in fear, but building peace is based in hope. The real enemy is ignorance.”