AfricAid is pleased to announce the promotion of Magdalena Leonard Kitinya to Kisa Program Manager for the Kilimanjaro Region. Her extensive background with the Kisa Project and dedication to the organization makes her ideal for this position. Her love of the Scholars and her loyalty to her fellow staff members shines through!
As she assumes her new role, Magdalena reflects on her full experience with AfricAid – first as a Kisa Scholar, then as a Volunteer for the organization during her university days, then as a Kisa Mentor for the past year and a half and now as Kisa Program Manager.
What was your experience like as a Kisa Scholar?
I found out about Kisa when the Kisa Mentors and some Kisa Alumnae came to the school. There were many – 80 of us – so they did a written interview and posted the results on the school notice board. I was very happy when I saw my name there. Then 30 of us had to do an oral interview and I managed to succeed. So I started Kisa in 2011 when I was in Form 5 at Edmund Rice Secondary School and I was among the second group ever to graduate from the program.
I think the best part of Kisa for me was my community assessment and Year One Presentation. I looked at the issue of beatings of young boys in Maasai communities before those boys go for circumcision. I was so nervous because the Mentors were there, but also other Kisa Scholars and other students from the school. I was one of the best presenters and got the second-highest marks for my presentation so was very happy.
I also really enjoyed Leadership Immersion. (Note: this activity evolved into the 2 Day Challenge.) I did it together with another Kisa Scholar at the school I used to go to before Edmund Rice. They were very happy to have me come back and teach other younger girls some of the Kisa lessons. My Kisa Mentor Anande taught us about win-win solutions. People think of charity, but not how everyone involved can benefit. It can be very hard for someone to become involved with charity because they don’t feel like they gain anything, but if we think about win-win solutions it may be easier for people to help others. I also loved Career Day, where I met people who inspired me a lot.
What did you do after you graduated from Kisa in 2013?
I earned a Bachelor of Law degree from Tumaini University, Makumira. It wasn’t easy to get in and at first they wanted me to go to the Dar es Salaam campus. My Mentor advised me to try and get in to the Makumira Campus because this is the main campus for law and the quality is very high. So I applied to the Tanzania Commission for Universities and made a case for not going to Dar es Salaam. They gave me permission to transfer. Studying law isn’t difficult but there is a lot of work and it’s very tiring! Some subjects are very interesting such as the Law of the Child and Criminal Law. These are easy to apply to what goes on in the real world here in Tanzania. It was very interesting to learn about FGM when we were studying about children’s rights and the Law of the Child.
During breaks from university, I volunteered with AfricAid. I wanted to inspire other girls. When others saw me volunteering, I believe it inspired them to also volunteer and to think about their vision for their community. They would say ‘Magdalena was obviously a very good Kisa Scholar’ and they too would work harder. I enjoyed teaching Kisa Classes and I got a lot out of it. I volunteered with AfricAid because they helped me with my tuition fee. They helped me and so I will help others.
What did you achieve as a Kisa Mentor with AfricAid?
I wanted to make sure the girls understood the topics and about their community. I wanted them to be good leaders in the future; to be admired. And I wanted to be a role model to Kisa Scholars so that they too can succeed. I felt that I could inspire girls by sharing my own personal story. And, I feel that I have succeeded in these goals.
Being a Kisa Mentor has added value to my life as I have gained a lot of new experiences. Working as a Kisa Mentor and being part of the Kisa family has been a great opportunity and fills my heart with joy! I am so grateful to have been both a Kisa Scholar and a Kisa Mentor with AfricAid’s Kisa Project!
What are your goals as a Program Manager?
My goals as a Program Manager are to deliver the best possible program to our girls by ensuring we have well trained Mentors who are well supervised; have good working relationships with our Partner Schools; and constantly strive to improve the quality of our curriculum. I hope to do my part in growing our organization so that we have even more positive impact on our community.
What is your vision for women in Tanzania?
My future vision for women in Tanzania is that they will become empowered. My eventual goal is to open a law firm so that whenever a woman has a problem about her rights I will give free advice. People don’t know about their rights here and I think things would be very different if they knew. If they need any help they can come – I’ll be advertising it. And I will also be able to represent them. The change will be that they will be fearless; they will be stronger and more determined. They’ll see themselves as more powerful. This will mean a great change in Tanzania. Education has flow on effects and as a result I hope to see greater equality for women.