Sunday, July 18, 2010

I spent last week in Arusha, Tanzania working with 23 young women to write stories about elephants. These young women are all part of AfricAid's first group of Kisa Scholars. The intent of the Kisa Project is to provide "school scholarships and leadership training to some of Africa's brightest young women."

After the first day, it was clear to me that AfricAid had in fact identified some of Africa's brightest young women to participate in the Kisa Project. This was by far my easiest workshop! The first exercise we did was intended to practice developing the characters in their stories and the Kisa scholars ended up not only developing great characters, they jumped ahead by developing great stories right off the bat. Then when I asked them if they knew anything about elephants, they responded with a host of facts, including the height and weight of elephants! But the Kisa Scholars are not just smart. They are also well-spoken, confident, and thoughtful. All ingredients that I am certain will make them great future leaders of their communities.

If you want to learn more about the Kisa Project, visit: AfricAid has developed an online platform that allows sponsors in the U.S. to connect with the Kisa Scholar they are sponsoring by sharing pictures, video, and messages. I think this is the future of sponsorship programs as it allows for a great connection between the Kisa Scholars and their sponsors. While I was there, the Kisa Scholars had their first opportunities to correspond with their sponsors and they absolutely loved the experience. I am very excited about the Kisa Project and hope that sales of the book about elephants that the Kisa Scholars helped write will fund a number of Kisa Scholarships. Considering that 95% of girls in Tanzania don't have the opportunity to attend Secondary School, there are plenty of young women who would benefit from the opportunity!