AfricAid Holds 1st “Opportunity Day” Event for Binti Shupavu Alumnae
The Binti Shupavu program is designed to give girls the skills they need to complete Ordinary Level secondary school (Forms 1-4), with the bigger objective that they lead productive lives. Each additional year of schooling can increase a woman’s income earning potential by 25%. The reality is that most O-Level certificate holders will not continue on to Advanced Level (last two years of high school). This is due to academic performance and/or lack of funds. At this point, a young woman needs to take the education she has and find a way to be productive. The self-esteem that a Binti Shupavu Scholar gains during the program can give her the impetus she needs to seek out vocational programs, or begin an entrepreneurial venture.
With this reality, the AfricAid team brainstormed what type of support the organization could give Binti Shupavu Alumnae. How could they be connected with opportunities that exist in their communities? The Alumnae were surveyed about what topics they might like to learn more about in a post-graduate event. This resulted in the first-ever, fun, and educational Opportunity Day.
Opportunity Day was held at the Kili Hub (the location of AfricAid’s Moshi office) on September 28, 2019 and attended by 55 Alumnae who had graduated in 2018. These young women were from the first group of Binti Shupavu Scholars recruited in 2017, so had participated in the program for two years (as it was being tested and scaled up). It was also a nice reunion for them, as they are now scattered around the Moshi area.
This successful first outreach to Binti Alumnae, including inviting a range of helpful guest speakers, was organized by Kimberly Martin, AfricAid’s Alumnae Program Coordinator. Kim said, “I was in a bubble of excitement for my passion for girls’ empowerment to be combined with my creativity in this way.”
Binti Alumnae told us that they wanted to learn about alternative options to school, employment opportunities, how to start a business, and various health topics. We recruited five speakers, including:
- the head of a vocational college/trade school – he spoke about the benefits of going to a technical school
- two entrepreneurs – they discussed what it takes to start a business and community organization
- an accountant – she gave tips on individual money management
- a doctor with the organization, Femme International – she instructed on women’s health, sexually transmitted infections, and early pregnancy.
Every speaker stressed being pro-active about short and long-term goals, and seizing opportunities. An overall objective of the day was to provide the girls hope and encouragement for life after school. Opportunities and success still await them, including giving back to their communities through volunteerism. The speakers kindly provided lists of job offerings that they knew about, along with ideas for networking, such as the Arusha Youth Library Club, Tanzania Arts, and Obuntu Hub Arusha.
“I was interested to participate in Opportunity Day because I personally believe that opportunities are created. I find it even more challenging to create those opportunities for girls though because everywhere, someone is trying to build an opportunity for a boy. I want others to learn that they need to see the potential in girls and mentor them like AfricAid does. I am dedicated to building the Africa we want.” Raphael, Opportunity Day Speaker
Lesson: There are Other Paths
Mr. Eliewaha Mdee is the Program Director of the YMCA Vocational College, which offers hotel management, early childhood education, and entrepreneurship skills. He focused mainly on hotel management with the Alumnae. He told the girls, “Do not give up. If you fail your final exams, it is not the end of life. You can go to vocational training and seek different opportunities. I personally failed my Form Four examinations. I never gave up and now I teach hotel management and am head of the college.”
“On this day, I got a lot of relevant information about different topics. If someone does not perform well on her Form Four examinations, she can still apply to college for hotel management, secretarial courses, or entrepreneurship. Opportunity Day even taught me about budgeting and saving. My advice to youth is to never give up on anything.” Halima, Binti Shupavu Alumna
Lesson: Get a Kibubu (Piggy Bank)
Vicky, who is the accountant at St. Jude’s School started her financial literacy presentation with a bang! She asked the Alumnae what they would do with 10,000 shillings (a bit less than $4.50 USD). The Alumnae were so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Then, Jacky, a Binti Alumna from JK Nyerere Secondary School, stood up and said she would spend it on things she needs. Vicky let Jacky know that the prudent answer was to save it, however she also rewarded her for putting herself out there by giving her the 10,000 shillings! The crowd erupted in shock and excitement and it was an important lesson to them about not being shy.
Vicky stressed that it is important for the girls to think now about creating a budget to save while they are young because it is a useful skill for their entire life. She explained to them, “Grown up people get in trouble with misusing their money because they don’t have a habit of saving. Everyone should have a kibubu (piggy bank), even if you don’t currently have a job. As the days go on, there is a possibility of increasing your income and you should be prepared.“ Vicky asked us to provide the participants with 1,000 Shillings to get a kibubu – and we did! Jacky, the girl who won the prize for speaking up added, “On this day, through the Binti program, I have learned how to create a budget and save money. Even if you have a small amount, like 500 shillings, you can keep it in a kibubu.”
It was a wonderful and inspiring day as these first Binti Alumnae shared their experiences in the year since they’ve been out of school. They left motivated to go out and grab every opportunity to succeed.
Binti Shupavu Mentor, Siberaster Evaristo, summed it up this way: “Opportunity Day helped Alumnae to know that every small resource can help them reach their dreams and goals if they use them effectively. We reminded them that since they are Binti Shupavu Alumnae, they are expected to be resilient, with the ability to face challenges and look for alternatives. The gathering gave them hope and courage that they can still do wonders in their life.”
Enjoy this slide show for more fun scenes of Opportunity Day, including the “photo booth” and Binti Shupavu staff celebrating a successful first event.
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The post-graduation survey conducted by AfricAid’s Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning team provides additional insight as to what that girls are doing now, and obstacles to further education.
Binti Shupavu is a four-year life skills course for lower secondary school girls covering topics such as study skills, personal leadership, health and self-confidence with the goal of increasing graduation rates for vulnerable girls.