“Deep down in my heart I believe we shall overcome this. One day, all this will be history.”
Rose, Kisa Scholar from Machame Girls’ Secondary School
The coronavirus pandemic has been a challenging and, for some, traumatic situation. Many countries, including Tanzania, locked down all activities that involved interaction of people, including religious services, markets, tourism, and schools. Schools in Tanzania closed on March 17, 2020 and were reopened May 29th for Form Six (the national exam candidate class) only. A month later on June 29th, the rest of the students returned to school.
Read about Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative’s COVID-19 response to help its 40 Partner Schools reopen safely. We’re providing ongoing support to our Kisa Project and Binti Shupavu Scholars, as well as to the entire school.
It was a long 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 months for everyone. Some Scholars experienced the lockdown in already challenging home environments. These difficult circumstances were amplified by families being told to stay at home together and avoid unnecessary movements. There are some students who are still dealing with the stress of this ongoing crisis and we continue to support them, including bringing in GLAMI’s social workers when necessary. We let the girls’ parents know that it’s not only okay, but normal, to feel frustrated or anxious at times like this.
Our Scholars own voices give us the true pulse on their feelings about dealing with the crisis – both the confusion and the clarity.
At times like this, when no one knew when school might resume, confusion reigned and it would not be surprising for the girls’ motivation to take a nosedive. However, we worked hard to keep this from happening.
“The first weeks of staying home weren’t hard for me because I thought after a few weeks we’d be back to school. As time went on, we were desperate that we might never go back at all. I asked myself so many questions about how things can get back to normal if they don’t find a cure.”
Gloria, Kisa Scholar Year One, Nuru Secondary School
“With only one month left for us to sit for our national exams, we thought the government would let us stay and finish our exams. But, everyone was sent home without knowing when schools would reopen. It was like a nightmare. My friends and I started to lose hope, but our Mentor encouraged us by reminding us to stay optimistic. This means seeing the positive side of challenges. We believe that what we are going through is something that will strengthen us in life.”
Nice, Kisa Scholar Year Two, Mwika Secondary School
Clarity through Communication
GLAMI’s Mentors made the girls our first priority with a tremendous effort to keep in touch with them and their parents. Daily calls and texts helped us stay aware of their struggles. This communication helped our Scholars to feel connected to each other and their Mentors, despite being separate. Finding one person or a few people to share concerns with during this time has also been helpful. We encouraged them never to give up on their goals and dreams in life. We reminded them of their Kisa lessons on personal leadership and being proactive. We worked with the Scholars and their parents to find innovative ways to study at home, while trying to balance their home responsibilities.
“For three months, our Mentors were a source of hope and encouragement. Just a week after school closed, we were able to communicate with them via phone. Not only did they check up on us and our families, they also helped us academically by forming discussion groups through WhatsApp and encouraged us to be active in these discussions. This was an amazing opportunity for us, especially for those who were feeling lonely or having low self-esteem.”
Rebecca, Kisa Scholar Year One, Machame Secondary School
“’Your thoughts of yesterday are what you become today.’ This quote has been motivating me every day, especially during the pandemic. I share it with my siblings at home because I saw them losing hope and sometimes giving up on doing better every day, thinking that they will never make it. I told them that my Mentor taught us this to help us have positive thoughts and feelings always. I told them to say it every day so as to create good expectations, despite what the world is facing right now.”
Lucy, Kisa Scholar Year One, Majengo Secondary School
Life during the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for the whole world, but from it we have learned to grow and stay motivated as a direct result of our interaction with others. No matter what we are going through in life, we have the power to respond to the situation in a positive way.
Kisa Project is a two-year leadership course that prepares girls in their last two years of secondary school to attend university and create positive social change in their communities.