“Oooh, did you all notice that little girl?!”
This exclamation came from Asimwe Suedi, Binti Shupavu Project Manager, as she climbed into the shuttle for the long journey back to the office. Five of us had just left one of our Partner Schools, Mawenzi Secondary School*, where three of us were engaged in recruiting for Binti Shupavu from the new class of recently enrolled students. Evaline and I had been introducing the program to the prospective Scholars and explaining why they should join, while Asimwe hovered around taking photos. We knew who she was referring to. The little girl was hard to miss.
Our young supporter, observed Asimwe, could not take her eyes off us. She was captivated by each word we said. She was a small girl and found it hard to see over everyone, but her level of concentration was strong. When it was time for new members to sign up, she made extra effort to position herself toward the front to ensure her name was registered. She did not want to miss this opportunity!
Evaline and I have noticed this eagerness in other prospective Scholars before and were fascinated by the high levels of enthusiasm shown by some girls as we started the recruitment process at our Partner Schools. We have identified why they were so keen: they knew all about the program a long time before we started talking about it! You see, both current and former Binti Shupavu Scholars have been talking up the program back at home, sharing with their relatives and friends what they are learning and what fun they are having. This aids tremendously in our recruitment of the new classes.
During recruiting, we had a lovely experience listening to how, why, and where the girls had learned about Binti Shupavu and wanted to share it with AfricAid’s supporters.
The Big Sister Effect
Several students explained to us how relatives had encouraged them to join the program. In fact, insisted they join!
“My cousin Magreth is a Binti graduate. She told me before I came to school that when a program called Binti Shupavu is introduced to you, they will tell you what they do at school. She told me to ‘make sure you join the program since they teach a lot of things.’ I felt so happy when the program was introduced at our school. I registered my name because from the program I will be able to learn how to be clean, healthy, and have good studying skills.” Hilda, TPC Secondary School
“The Binti Shupavu program has a very interesting story which I heard about from my sister who is a Binti Shupavu Alumna now. I heard her singing a very beautiful song, “Strong Girls,” and I loved it from the first time I heard it. She told me that they used to sing it in the Binti Shupavu program and I got to know many other things about the program from her. My sister didn’t end there. She insisted that I join the program soon after joining high school. Because I was already aware of the good of the program, I was really happy when the Mentors introduced it to the school and without hesitation I stood up and registered my name so that I can be one of the program members.” Azra, Mawenzi Secondary School
“My sister Hadija is a Form 4 Binti Scholar here at TPC Secondary School. She used to tell me a lot of things about the Binti Shupavu program when I was still in Standard Six, such as how to overcome challenges in school and in the community and live positively. She told me I should join and I will learn a lot more. The stories my sister shared with me and the things she learned from the program motivated me to join the program.” Latifa, TPC Secondary School
She Cared – and She Shared
Sisters and cousins are not the only ones selling this experience for us. Remember Scolastica? We introduced her when she was Form 2 in a blog on March 23, 2018. She is the Binti Shupavu Scholar who took it upon herself to make copies of the materials and go home and teach what she learned through the extra-curricular activity at school to younger girls back home. Her Mentor, Agatha Chaima, told her story and is still with AfricAid in 2019 as a Kisa Mentor. Today, Scolastica has advanced to Form 3 and is so proud that several of her “pupils” have joined her in Binti Shupavu at Langasani Secondary School. She refers to them as her granddaughters as they are two years (generations) behind her in the program. Several of them explain how they did not let this opportunity pass them by.
“We first heard about Binti Shupavu when we were in Standard Seven at Doctor Omary Primary School. Scolastica visited our school and introduced us to the program that she was running. The program was Binti Shupavu and she told us that she will be giving us the life skills to help us girls reach our goals. We found it to be a very good opportunity for us and we wanted to grab it! As the days went on, we were approaching our final days of our primary school education, and Scolastica did not leave us empty minded. She strongly insisted that if we come across this program when joining our secondary schools, we should be the first to register our names because it is a great opportunity that we should not miss from school life. Luckily, the program was there when we joined secondary school. We were so happy and glad that our dreams are coming true.”
We are so proud that the knowledge and skills shared in Binti Shupavu are impacting girls so deeply. This is so clear by the strength of the word of mouth that is occurring. Girls are telling people important to them that they need to be part of the program too. We are happy to see our Scholars recognize the value of the knowledge that they receive and act as role models to their friends, siblings, neighbors, peers at school, and in the community at large.
And that young girl? Asimwe reveals her identity: “I thought I recognized her sweet face. I asked Florah the next time she was at Mawenzi to ask the young girl if she had a sister who had been in our program before. And, she turned out to be the younger sister of one of the Scholars who I had mentored earlier. The big sister was such a memorable, special young woman. We are now so pleased to have her younger sibling as part of the Binti Shupavu family. She is equally, if not even more, enthusiastic about all she will learn and who she can become!”
*Binti Shupavu Mentor Agnes Akyoo is shown introducing the program at Mawenzi Secondary School in the photo at top.
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.
You and 4 friends can support a girl in this program for just $25 each! Here’s how.
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