The number of Kisa graduates is expanding so much that in a few years, they could be considered a social movement. They come from all areas of the country and as they take individual paths in their lives, they can be found in most professions and areas of employment. Their networks will only get bigger and more complex. They have found strength in numbers. Presently, one of the ways they all stay connected is through AfricAid hosting Kisa Alumnae Network (KAN) meetings.
On a day in early April, 191 Kisa Alumnae women came together in different parts of the country. AfricAid arranged simultaneous lunches in three urban centers- Dar es Salaam, Dodoma and Arusha. (The photos throughout this post are from the Dar es Salaam gathering.) They enjoyed each other’s company, met new people who have had similar experiences, and consolidated their identities as Kisa graduates. Evelyn, a Kisa Alumna from Monduli expressed many people’s experience when she said, “It was nice to see my old school friends as well as friends from university. I so rarely see them face to face. It was also a surprise to see younger girls from my school that did not realize were in the Kisa Program too. It was such a wonderful time to get together and talk about our lives.”
For the official program, discussions focused on communication should go forward and how alumnae can all play a part in sharing opportunities with each other. Information was gathered about the community through the completion of Alumnae Survey Forms. Some shared their most significant change stories, and the more entrepreneurial showed the group their wares and were happy with the business that they made.
Hadija, the KAN meeting organizer in Dodoma commented about an important issue that spontaneously developed at the lunch there. “Kisa Alumnae Network has been very helpful to our girls. These meetings give them a chance to share ideas, learn from each other, broaden their minds and start to think how creative they can be to start small businesses while they are still in college. I believe these lunches are good platforms to keep improving entrepreneurial skills as the girls realize how difficult it is to get employment.”
An example of this sharing occurred when one of the alumna who is a business woman in Dodoma graciously shared her skills with print making. The following day after the official lunch, many of the alumnae met at Sarah’s home where she showed her fellow Kisa friends how to do tie dying. This is a lovely example of how coming together can enrich all our lives, and how we can be inspired by each other.
At the end of the day, people were reluctant to leave. Smalls groups remained chatting, exchanging contacts and lingering over half drunk soft drinks. Alumnae were informed about upcoming events such as the Job Readiness Training, and many of the younger girls had their copies of their Scholarship Application Forms in their hands. It was a very pleasant day, and everyone felt that something special had happened. The power generated by proud Kisa alumnae coming together renewed bonds and formed new ones.