Attendees, performers, and donors from our first GIRLS WHO ROCK benefit concert, June 10 in NYC, won’t want to miss this update!
As you know, your support sponsored Elizabeth, Grace, and Happiness in the Kisa Project, a secondary school educational program AfricAid runs in Tanzania, which also enrolls the girls in computer and leadership training. Our Scholars email us messages at least once a month, and we post them here to the blog for you to comment on, and then we relay those messages back to them. Right here on shesthefirst.org, we are so awed to watch a two-year cross-cultural exchange and digital storytelling project unravel, all from one rockin’ night in New York City.
There are some BIG updates with the Kisa Project that recently came our way from founder Ashley Shuyler! She just returned to Colorado from 10 weeks in Tanzania, where she ran a 10-day leadership summit with the girls. The girls had a challenge: start a sustainable service project or business that they would take back to their school communities. They had to write a business plan, create a budget and a marketing plan, and present all this to 30 parents, teachers, and heads of school. Ashley says the end product was remarkable. The Scholars chose to teach computer classes at a low cost to students and community members who otherwise couldn’t afford to take such a course. Ashley writes:
Their reasoning behind choosing a computer-based project was compelling: they identified that, although they have little capital, they do have an incredible resource in the Kisa-installed computer labs at their partner schools; and, at the same time, their research revealed a great need for increased computer literacy in Tanzania – not only do most jobs now require some familiarity with computers, but additionally, the Tanzanian government recently mandated that all college applications be submitted online, even when most students have never used a computer. I couldn’t have been prouder when, on the final day of the workshop, the students launched their inaugural computer class to a group of street kids and young Maasai women from a local school – all of whom left the class chattering excitedly about their new-found knowledge skills. This, from a group of girls who themselves had never touched a computer before becoming part of Kisa.
We have to say with special pride that in Ashley’s email to AfricAid’s supporters, she singled out one girl’s story from this leadership workshop — and it was Grace, one of our girls! Here’s what she said:
One student, Grace, approached me early on in the workshop. Although she was the athlete and jokester of the group, I realized immediately that she had a big vision that she demanded to be taken seriously. She told me that, ever since she was young, she had felt an irresistible need to help orphans and street children – but that her brothers and family had simply laughed at her when she expressed this goal to them. She told me that she had given up hope – both for her dream and for herself – but that everything changed when she was selected for the Kisa Project. She asked me one evening not long before the end of our time together, “Do you really think I can do it? Can I really help street kids?” When I told her that every person in Kisa was behind her, she revealed that she had already begun making plans to start a small business, through which she would donate a portion of her profits to support street children, and she was beginning to research how to adopt orphans – so that she could adopt two of them in later life. I hugged her with the deepest of admiration. (If you’re interested, you can watch a digital story created by Grace and her dreams here.)
Ashley also sent us individual feedback on each of our three girls, which we will share with you in an upcoming post this week. Thanks for reading through this lengthy one — but wasn’t every word part of a big, beaming smile on your face now?