Binti Shupavu Mentors will soon celebrate more than 1,000 Form Four Scholars in Northern Tanzania who will graduate from the program before heading in to their final exam period. This academic milestone is a make-or-break moment in a girl’s academic career as it determines whether she will continue to Advanced Level (last two years of high school) and possibly on to university.
One Binti Scholar, Namnyaki,* from Mwandet Secondary School explains how the four-year life skills program had a transformative effect on her. It takes courage to share such an introspective story and admit that you aren’t proud of who you used to be. Thank you, Namnyaki. You should be very proud of who you are now!
I recall how stubborn I was before and even after I first joined the Binti Shupavu program. I believed that everything I did or said was right. I thought I had no problems. I was cruel and spoke harshly to others. I bullied some of my classmates with my wrong choice of words.
I joined Binti Shupavu because I thought it was the right place to be. Still, at first, I thought it was a waste of time. I attended classes only when I wanted to and my class attendance became very bad, but I was ok with it.
Good thing my Mentor never gave up on me!
After months of my dodging lessons, my Binti Mentor followed up with me and persuaded me to come back. That was when my mind started to change and I began to transform. Things that we were taught about changing our lives made me interested in knowing more. Lessons such as being my own advocate and being proactive not reactive about issues totally changed my perception toward the Binti classes.
Now I know I did have a problem with my attitude. But through constant counseling from my Mentor, I was able to change. I came to understand that bad behavior is never a good thing and will never help me with anything. I began to see that I was going to be transformed, although I didn’t know exactly how it would happen.
Mentoring transformed me to an attentive and kinder person. Changing from being stubborn to a smart and focused helped me to perform better in my studies.
As a young girl, Binti Shupavu helped me to make better decisions and taught me how to claim my rights in a well-mannered way instead of being aggressive. The lessons exposed me to several ways to ask for help whenever I am need. With the challenges I went through at home and at school, Binti became a comforting place for me. It taught me to be resilient in difficult situations.
My journey as a Binti Shupavu Scholar taught me that young girls need skills to overcome obstacles in their lives. And that every girl’s stubbornness can be transformed – she just needs the right people to help her change.
What one of Namnyaki’s Binti Mentors, Scholastica Minde, has to say…
As a Binti Shupavu Mentor, I have learned to be patient with our Scholars, especially the younger ones going through phases of adolescence.
Namnyaki joined Binti Shupavu in 2018. She started off as a good Scholar with many friends, but then something changed and she began to disconnect. I wanted to get her back! I started talking to her little by little concerning her behavior, especially about her attendance. I used all my efforts as a Mentor to advise, counsel, and maintain a close relationship with her so as to help her. At first, it was hard, but after continuous follow-up, I started seeing her attending sessions and responding to questions in class.
I witnessed Namnyaki change to a role model to her classmates. She became confident, active and smart in class, and influential in many areas at school. I was so happy to see Namnyaki’s transformation as she participated in discussions and engaged in all class activities. One day during a class session where we taught them about relationships with adults, she mentioned that Binti Shupavu Mentors are her role models and she would like to become one someday.
There is no greater joy than seeing positive changes in our Scholars’ lives. Namnyaki is now ready to go back to her community to teach other girls what she learned in Binti Shupavu** and I am so proud of her!
*This Scholar’s name has been changed.
**Binti Shupavu now provides each graduating Scholar with a Community Handbook. This serves as a resource during their long wait for their exam results and next steps. The girls are expected to share what they learned in their Binti classes (and actually many of them have been proactively doing this all along – here’s the inspiring story of one) with other girls (and boys!) in their home communities.
Meet a Binti Alumna who did not excel academically, but still has several thriving businesses and is financially independent.
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.