Kisa Alumna Florence Thomas John has been a Kisa Mentor in Moshi, Tanzania for one year as of August 1, 2020. In her first year with the organization, she led 164 Kisa Scholars through the after-school leadership program at five secondary schools in the Moshi area. This is the third part of an ongoing series of journal type blogs shared by Florence.
(Note that students in Tanzania returned to school on Monday, June 29, 2020.)
This blog was supposed to be about the joy and pride that comes with graduation from high school and completion of GLAMI’s two-year Kisa Project. Girls Livelihood and Mentoring Initiative (GLAMI) is AfricAid’s program implementation partner in Tanzania.
The Year Two Kisa Scholars (Form 6) were so excited as they approached the finish line and were preparing for the big day and lots of photos by planning their most special outfits. As Mentors, we are honored to be invited to these graduation ceremonies and witness the jubilation. We also give out certificates for finishing Kisa.
Instead, schools in Tanzania closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kisa Scholars dispersed to their homes and homes of relatives and tried their best to stay on top of their studies on their own. Kisa Mentors have stayed in touch with the girls through calls, texts, and WhatsApp groups. The girls are being flexible and so will I! This story is now about how three of my Scholars are spending their time each day and the things they miss about being at school. It has been a challenging time for them, but one thing is for certain: the Kisa lessons on organizing one’s time with a schedule and self-motivation are working! The other observation… they do a lot of cooking while at home!
We Normally Live as Sisters
Gladness – Form Five, Ashira Secondary School
Combination: History, Geography, English Language
I stay optimistic and hopeful by remembering who I am, understanding my potential as a girl and my importance to my family, my community, and my nation at large. As a future leader, I believe I can bring changes and make a difference in my community.
I have the schedule of my long day entirely planned out.
7:00am: I wake up energetic to do my morning chores. I have always loved feeding the chickens and preparing my family’s breakfast. I carry on with home duties, including taking care of the garden and teaching my siblings how to read and write, all morning. Sometimes after breakfast, I have discussions with fellow Kisa Scholars in WhatsApp groups. Not all of my friends have smart phones though, so communication is by call and text message for others.
12:00pm: I prepare my family’s lunch.
2:30-5pm: Personal study time. I have been watching my lessons on tv. A different teacher gives a lesson on a different subject each day, Monday through Saturday. One days where my three combination subjects are not on the tv schedule, I use the materials I brought home from school.
5pm: I prepare my family’s dinner.
8-10pm: Family Time. I really love the night moments with my family as we have night talks and watch the news and movies before bed.
10:30pm: Lights out!
I really miss our Kisa sessions and I miss our Mentor. I miss being with my friends because we normally live as sisters and share life stories during the sessions. We help each other figure out how we can overcome some of the challenges we girls have and reach our goals.
During this pandemic, I have been able to help my family and community by using the leadership lessons from Kisa, by sharing the skills and knowledge with other girls around my community. I tell them the importance of using their time wisely during this pandemic to discover their talents and use them. I explain that they need to have priorities and set goals in order to accomplish their visions.
Never Give Up!
Catherine – Form Five, Mawenzi Secondary School
Combination: History, Geography, English Language
My life has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic began. There are not fixed timetables at home the way there are at school, so I am the one responsible for making my own. With some assistance from my mom, I make my next day’s timetable before I go to bed.
I have home duties like many other grown girls do at home. These include washing utensils, cooking, and cleaning the house. I get time to study through lessons that are on tv and I also use my school study materials and books I brought from school.
While I enjoy time with my siblings at home, I have really begun to miss doing things with my friends. This includes studying together in a group, games that we played on Fridays, and stories about life we shared as we were preparing to go to bed. I miss our weekly Kisa classes and the lessons and games with Madame Florence. I really wish that COVID-19 would pass so that we can go back to school and carry on with our studies.
I have a motto that makes me stay hopeful no matter what comes along each day and that is “Never give up!” I would like to encourage my fellow Scholars not to give up no matter what. We all have goals and visions and we must take care of our health and make sure we accomplish them.
When the Time is Right
Leah – Form Five, Mawenzi Secondary School
Combination: History, Geography, Economics
I am staying in communication with my Kisa friends, but I still miss the in person Kisa classes. I manage to stay positive and hopeful during the Coronavirus pandemic with the lessons I learned from Kisa on how to be resilient and deal with any challenge that I encounter.
My day has four main activities: doing my home chores early in the morning, studying in the afternoon and again at night before bed, getting some exercise in the evening, and learning computer courses. My father allows me to use his phone to access study materials from the internet. I follow up on television lessons that are taught by different teachers with self-study.
I am in a rural area where people believe they can’t get the disease. I am helping my community members understand instructions given by doctors. I am also responsible for watching over my young brothers so that they do not stray away from home as they play.
I know that I will go back to school when the time is right and that I will accomplish the dreams that I have.
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.
In Florence’s first blog, she describes her expectations as she begins her new job as a Kisa Mentor.
In Florence’s second blog, she brings us along on a typical day as a Kisa Mentor.
Now that students have returned to school, they have a new challenge. Many of our Partner Schools report that they do not have enough funds to provide handwashing stations, hand sanitizer, soap, or other protective items that will keep students safe from COVID-19. Our Scholars also need masks and safe transit to return.