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Our newest Girl Impact partner has volunteers in a tizz! Every Tuesday volunteers return from their morning session with Quirky 30 with smiles on faces, chatting a million miles an hour about how inspiring the participants were, how much they learned and how they can’t wait for next Tuesday.

Quirky 30 is definitely an amazing program. You only need to read about our Destination Managers experience to know how incredible the youth are (you can find that here). What is even more inspiring though is the program itself. Teaching participants aged from 16 – 31 years old computer programming and coding is a life changing and challenging venture. Founded by 2 former inmates, Quirky 30 is their solution to enable youth to find an alternative to poverty and crime, which is prevalent within the local communities.

“We up-skill in marketable skills and create channels and opportunities for inclusive economy using technology to empower, advance and promote sustainable livelihoods. Our core business focuses on training female and male unemployed youth, teenage mothers, high school drop outs, ex-offenders and offenders in coding, design, soft skills as well as entrepreneurial skills to help them escape the grinding cycle of poverty and crime which characterizes so many of their lives. Coding is an aspirational job skill, which is not only in high demand globally but is also well paid. We provide free training to the population groups that are in greatest need of such job skills – yet have the least access due to their marginalised situations – we hope to reduce inequality, poverty and criminal activity, and ignite technological revolutions in previously hopeless and unlikely places.”

Quirky 30 has partnered with African Impact to ensure the ‘soft skills’ are delivered as well; guaranteeing confidence, self assurance and self belief are instilled – all of which are so important in landing a job. For those who have never held a job before, the vital skills of CV writing, interview techniques and workplace ethics are vital in securing employment. African Impact volunteers are able to guide Quirky 30 participants through the challenging and intimidating world of job applications and are looking forward to seeing just how many are snapped up for employment at the end of the year.

The outcome of this incredible project are youth that are set to succeed. Creating a safe space for the participants to talk openly, to questions volunteers, each other and themselves enables courage to take root and the understanding that maybe soon they can be achieving that dream of well paid, consistent, rewarding work.

But why take our word for it. We recently asked Quirky 30 participants to share their thoughts on the program and volunteers. Here’s what they had to say;

Phindi, 23

        “I have learned constructive ways to solve problems.”

No name:

        “In this program, I’ve learnt a lot about equality. I’ve realized we really not equal in terms of gender culturally and I think that needs to change.”

Mkhansyi, 21 years old

        “It’s been beneficial in terms of learning new things that I didn’t know. There’s some challenges that I’ve noticed here that influence people’s decisions.”

Mandy, 19 years old

        “ The programme is cool. It stimulates us and exposes us to things we hardly talk about. As for me, I keep it up because at some point it helps me emotionally, mentally, etc.”

Riyaos

        “ This program has given me insight into how cultural, youth experiences, and perceptions shape our current society. It has also empowered me with a number of tools for inward reflection. You’re never too old to learn or change.”

Lwazi, 23 yeard old

        “The experience in Quirky 30 has groomed me to be a better person in business and socially. The opportunities that learning the digital world has given me will open new doors for myself and be independent. I believe I can stand on my own two feet and open a business. I am equipped to work for myself and change.”

Luthando

        “I have learned a lot from this programme. I have gained a vast amount of knowledge that I never thought I would have because coding and programming are two broad things and getting to know how to create a website or mobile app is a big thing. I have a huge love for technology since I started learning about computers. I would say Quirky 30 is a place for you to see where you want to put yourself in the technology world. Thanks for everything!”

If this sounds like something you’d like to be involved with, great news; Quirky 30 is set to quadruple in size in 2018! This means our impact is also expanding and you can join us in developing self confidence, knowledge and empowerment to a whole new set of participants.

To find out how you can join the Quirky 30 love affair, head to the African Impact website.

 

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Written by our Moshi Girl Impact Volunteer, Catherine Davis, May 2017

One of the most valuable and memorable experiences a student can have in their lifetime is the opportunity to meet an inspirational figure. Furthermore, to be able to relate to that inspirational person on some level or another, students are provided with a memorable experience and also given the mindset that tells them to believe in themselves. All students should be given the chance to listen, engage, and absorb the knowledge, advice, and encouragement that motivational speakers provide. It allows them to hope. It gives them inspiration and encourages them to follow their dreams and goals in life, whatever they may be.

During the Girls Impact Project in Moshi, a young woman named Sophia Simon was invited to talk with a class of students at a local Secondary School. She graciously spoke to the students in the third person about how a young individual had to overcome a series of challenges to become a General Manager. She specified that this person had graduated secondary school at the age of 23 and went on to study travel and tourism management and become the general manager of one of the most renowned lodges in Moshi. When she revealed herself as this particular individual, the students were in awe and respect. She demonstrated perseverance and gave the class an example of how achieving your dreams’ is not an easy journey, but it is possible with dedication and patience. Furthermore, she was an encouragement, especially for the female students, because her personal story was an example of a woman who independently challenged social norms and made a career for herself. This was critically important because during several of the exercises we conducted throughout the week which focused on career options and skills, I noticed that many of the students still retained the idea that women were confined to a certain spectrum of aspirations. For example, many believed women were solely apt for jobs such as cooking, cleaning, caring for children, etc. Another trend which many students had believed was that career-wise, most women were more likely to become teachers or doctors. These are, of course, fantastic paths to pursue, however, it is important to teach students that they are not limited to such few options. It is crucial that these students recognize their potential and know that there is a range of different career paths for them to pursue.

Francis Romani Selasini, another motivational speaker and Executive Coordinator of NAFGEM (Network Against Female Genital Mutilation) – a local partner of African Impact – was able to visit the class shortly after Sophia, and he spoke passionately about the efforts he has made to this day in order to put an end to female genital mutilation. His presence and determination were evident in the classroom and the students absorbed his every word. He carefully explained how FGM is a gravely serious violation of human rights, which specifically targets girls and women. FGM is acknowledged internationally, yet the practice continues to affect a large number of women due to deeply-rooted social and culture norms. It is a form of discrimination against women and of femicide. There are no health benefits from the procedure – which Francis made very clear after the question was asked by a female student.

These types of open discussions and inspirational talks are a necessary component in every classroom. It allows students to broaden their minds, ask important questions, and gain insight into the many different issues that are still present today.

A very special thank you to Sophia Simon, Francis Romani Selasini and of course, African Impact & The Happy Africa Foundation for the continuous support, motivation, and dedication that is delivered to these beautifully enthusiastic and devoted students!

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Written by Zandile Nkompela, Cape Town Girl Impact Coordinator

Girl Impact programme focuses on empowering young people in and around Cape Town. As the newly appointed Project Development Coordinator, this is something I am passionate about. The passion was ignited in my youth with my involvement with developmental human rights organisations. This is where I cut my teeth into gender and development sphere, where I got to see with my gender spectacles. It seems so surreal as I remember some of the sessions where I expressed some of the oppressive terminology used knowingly or unknowingly by adults whilst growing up. Any hope of being bold enough to live the life that one was meant to was shattered by all those negative messages intentional or unintentional, alas; it’s all said and done.

The latter is important to mention as I would like to raise awareness with this article to the mamas, child minders out there who are supposed to protect and build a positive mind set for the young minds.  A young mind is like a blank canvass waiting on an artist to create master piece to be show cased in the world’s galleries. There are two things that could happen to the canvass, we can get a master piece or is spoiled.

In my era of growing up as a dark skinned child was looked down upon and for a girl child to be bold was shunned upon. No one dared wanted to be bold because you will be labelled FORWARD and that was definitely not a good thing. So those of us who believed a lot of that garbage hid sheepishly into our own little caves. Some of us were lucky enough in life to have bold grandmothers to look up to and emulate. Also access to the organisations that could de-mystify all those myths was a bonus. The latter assisted in a process of restoration and finding the power within.

However, some of us who were not so lucky, carried those negative messages and leading lives with low self-esteem and finding themselves in abusive relationships and other less unfortunate situations. So adults do guard your tongue when speaking to young people and speak positive words to build and unleash the potential in young people.

What the Girl Impact program seeks to achieve, is to empower and educate young people, boys and girls in under developed communities. The program covers issues which today’s young people are challenged with. The issues include safety; self-confidence; access to education; health; making a living and early pregnancy.

The Girl Impact program believes in the holistic empowering of young people. Thus it is imperative that the boys and young men are part of the programme. It is shocking to learn of the stereo-types still embedded in some of the young women and men that we work with in the programme. For us this can only mean that the need for gender and development still remains.

South Africa is currently facing a crisis of gender based violence and no one is going to tackle this challenge besides us, the people who live in South Africa. There is definitely a need to empower women to protect themselves. There is also a need to conscientise boys and young men about the effects of gender based violence. Gender Development and Empowerment is certainly far from over, Girl Impact, has a major role to play in our disadvantaged communities. We all, by that I mean, in the home, teachers, churches, organisations and government, we all need to play our part for the empowerment of our young people, the future of our country.

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Our Cape Town Sonwabile Afterschool project recently completed the Self Confidence pillar of our program.

After working with the children on identifying positive role models, how to speak up and feel confident in themselves, we teemed with Penda Trust and incredible photographer Sarah Isaacs to SHOW the children how strong they are.

Here they are seeing the photos of themselves. Read more on Sonwabile through Kaylee’s blog here.

 

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Romina Scianatico, our recent Girl Impact Volunteer in Livingstone shares her thoughts with us.

If you’re looking for a well-rounded volunteer experience, have many interests, and are having a difficult time choosing a program to participate in, African Impact’s Livingstone Community Project is definitely one to check out. Located close to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world, Victoria Falls, the work done here is it’s own little wonder. You can choose a program within your interest and they also give you the freedom of a variety of projects to participate in – sports, teaching, eco-bricking, social activities, and tons more!

As a student studying Nursing and Gender Studies, I chose Girl Impact (GI). My first week was packed with so many different activities it’s hard not to want to describe them all. Each was amazing in their own way. In this program you help teach lessons on health, bullying, drugs and alcohol, gender based violence, and teamwork to fifth and sixth grade girls at Linda Community School as well as rugby. There is also a farm which the grade school girls help tend to with the volunteers that ends up helping feed them. For the women in the community, you put together workshops so they can set goals, budget, and save money for their families.

One of the lessons I put together was a introductory yoga lesson for the Women’s Group while we were covering healthy eating and fitness. I had never taught a class on anything nor am I the most advanced at yoga, but the warm support I received from GI’s coordinator eased my worries.

The women in the group had never heard of the practice before so I wasn’t sure how well they would take to it. But, I was happily surprised to find that they really enjoyed it! I told them some brief history on the Indian origin of yoga and then guided them through breathing meditation before moving onto poses. One of the women, with a baby on her hip, was smiling so brightly the moment we started and things only got better from that point. There was laughing during some of the harder poses and directing each other in the postures. After we wrapped up with corpse pose and we were all laying in the sun, I couldn’t believe I had been hesitant and nervous for that morning. I was very pleased that many of them said their bodies felt loose and that their joint pain had lessened – something I didn’t expect to happen during their first go at yoga!

What I took away most from that day was that even though I barely knew these women, there was a strong sense of sisterhood. They were enthusiastic and keen to learn. I’m not sure if they know it, but those lovely ladies left a huge impact on my life – probably more so than I did on theirs. Despite the language and culture barriers, a connection was still made and I’m immensely grateful for that. It’s something I will carry with me on the flight journey home and further. So, for all of the precious moments I know have in my memories, I’d like to thank Zambia, African Impact and it’s coordinators, all the females I had the privilege to come into contact with at Linda, and my fellow volunteers.

Coming to volunteer at the Livingstone Community Projects was the best decision I ever made and I hope I’ll get to do it again soon!

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Written by Kaylee Prince, African Impact Cape Town Projects Business Manager

The strongest actions for a woman is to love herself, be herself and shine amongst those who never believed she could. – unknown

Who was it in your world that told you that you could be anything, that you could reach for the stars and you were great enough to be able to catch them?

For me, it was my dad. When saying I wanted to be the ‘ball boy’ at the Wimbledon tennis match, he would say, “you can be the champion player”. When saying I wasn’t smart enough, he would say, “you can do anything you set your mind to”. And I have, because he gave me that confidence, that belief in myself.

I now find myself living in Cape Town and working in the community of Khayelitsha. I am seeing girls and women around me without strong role models, strong leaders, strong sense of self. Who is telling these girls that they are great? Hopefully it can be me.

I am fortunate enough to work on The Girl Impact, a project as rewarding as it is difficult. With statistics released showing 1 in 5 women are assaulted by their partner, women and girls in South Africa are facing uphill battles that I cannot even comprehend and yet I still believe they can reach for the stars. We just need to convince them that this is the case. Why shout it from the rooftops though, when a picture can speak the thousand words I know these women (and men) need to hear…

One of our Girl Impact partners, Sonwabile AfterCare, is working with ‘tweens’ to ensure they have the greatest head start on life. The children, who average about 8 years old, spend the afternoons with African Impact volunteers learning, through fun games and activities, the skills they need to succeed in life. One of these skills is Self Confidence; belief that those stars and dreams are achievable, that they too can be the champion player. After working with the children on identifying positive role models, how to speak up and feel confident in themselves, we teemed with Penda Trust and incredible photographer Sarah Isaacs to SHOW the children how strong they are.

The confidence portraits that have been produced cement for me that the future of South Africa lays in the hands of the women of this nation. The girls we work with are strong, they are confident, they can reach for the stars. And now they can SEE it. They can see they have the power to say no, that they have a strength inside of them and that they can achieve what it is they set their minds to. It’s time we all helped to build their future, to lay foundations to hold them up. A woman will reinvest 80-90% of her wage into her family, she will care for them, teach them and help them grow. That is an opportunity to re-establish a nation in trouble.

If we can empower a girl to become a strong woman we can empower an entire community.

… and I think that would make my dad proud too.

 

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Claudy Luft, volunteered in the Girl Impact and Gender Empowerment Project 

12 weeks in Livingstone, Zambia and 12 weeks in Moshi, Tanzania.

Much more can and needs to be done to reach the goal of gender equality in the hole world. I believe every little bit helps and it starts with education, that is why I came to Zambia in 2016 and to Tanzania in 2017.

4 weeks ago, I arrived in Moshi. I was so excited and could not wait to start. From the moment I arrived, I felt part of the Moshi African Impact family, everyone is so welcoming and the projects are well organized. After being a volunteer in different projects, in different locations, I knew how interesting and impactful the Girl Impact program is. The girls (and boys every now and then) that are part of the Girl Impact program improved their knowledge but more important they grow in confidence. When we invest in girls’ health, safety, education and rights we empower them to reach for their dreams and build better lives for themselves and their communities.

There are many similarities in the Girl Impact projects, of course both projects cover all the ‘girls’ topics and both projects are well established and well organized. Even when you volunteer for 2 or 4 weeks you can see the bigger impact the program makes in the community and you are an important part of it. An interesting difference between the locations is the culture. Girls all over the world struggle with the same problems but cultural influences make that girls in different part of the world are more vulnerable than others. A project in Moshi that made a big impact in one of my first weeks was NAFGEM, a project that helps girls who escaped female genital mutilation, which is still common in Maasai and Tanzanian culture. Young women, especially those from such strict cultural backgrounds need and want mentors to help them navigate and bring them more confidents to become strong, independent women. Here in Moshi we work closely with the Maasai; we run a Maasai literacy program and a Maasai professional development program. Girl Impact volunteers in Moshi get the change to join the education project in which we teach the Maasai, adults and kids English. This gives you the opportunity to see more of the impact we make in the community. While volunteering you really get to know the culture and that is one of the biggest benefits volunteering gives you compare to traveling.

Both projects are focussed on different age groups of girls, from young girls up to adults. And all girls that I’ve met in the program are so eager to learn and come to our lessons after school which shows their dedication. This program is an incredible experience for yourself and for the girls that you’ll support by joining the Girl Impact program. African Impact facilitates it so well with tasty food, good accommodation, project transfers and a helpful team to support you before, during and after the projects. You’ll never be on your own!

But be aware while you’re busy helping to change their lives, they’ll change yours and in ways you could never have imagined.

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Let me introduce myself. My name is Benjamin, an engineering student, and I’m here in Livingstone, Zambia as a “build it” volunteer. However, I’m actually going to tell you why you should join The Girl Impact program.

First, The Girl Impact is the highlight of my week. On Thursdays we take part in a girls rugby program, in which the girls learn valuable skills in teamwork, co-operation, sportsmanship and even self-defense! The first time I went down to the pitch, I was overwhelmed with their energy, but I came away feeling inspired and excited, clearing away those mid week blues, wanting to go back again and again.

Second, to illustrate the importance and value of volunteering on The Girl Impact program, allow me to relay a story which best describes my story. ‘A man was walking down a beach and as far as he could see were starfish that had been washed up into the sand being cooked by the sun. But walking towards him was a young boy who every so often would bend down, pick up one of these star fish, and throw it back into ocean. When they got close enough the man asked the boy “What are you doing you can’t possibly help all these starfish.” The boy simply bends down, picks up another, and throws it as far as he can. He replies, “but I made a difference to this one.”’

We can not help every girl; however, the girls we do impact, leave The Girl Impact workshops feeling empowered and most importantly safe in the knowledge that somebody cares. From this there can only be a multiplier effect.

To be a part of this multiplier effect, check out the volunteer and intern tab above!

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Empowering Africa’s Girls

The stats and stories about the lives of many adolescent girls in Africa, and around the world, is heart-wrenching: 50% of girls do not complete primary school across Africa; more than 33% of girls in South Africa have experienced sexual violence before the age of 18; and the many adolescent girls become mothers while they are almost still a child themselves.  It has been shown in other countries that women are a vital part of the solution to ensure improvements and growth. African women and girls offer so much untapped potential to drive the development of Africa.

African Impact wants to make life better for girls and young women. Better opportunities for education, safety, building self-confidence, and having better knowledge on how to prevent early pregnancy.  These, along with other areas of focus, can create empowered young women and lead to families and communities moving out of poverty.

There are some great organisations around the world improving the lives of girls and it’s becoming a big focus for our generation. African Impact and The Happy Africa Foundation are shaping a new initiative focussing on how volunteers and funding can create better opportunities for girls as they become young women.  The focus is not just on girls as it’s important that the boys and men in the communities see how women are an essential part of progress in Africa.

So in the months to come, we would like to invite volunteers to join us in helping girls have a better future.  Through activities like education workshops, maternal health discussions, sport sessions, self-defence lessons, support groups, or learning from community mentors, volunteers will play an important a part of this.  It’s in early days but we are already starting a program with the Network Against Female Genital Mutilation in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania and working on puberty workshops in Livingstone and Cape Town with many more valuable partnerships and activities to come.

We will be looking for funding to help us keep girls in school, support community mentors, get great local people involved in the program, and provide the resources to educate and coach girls.

Keep in touch so we can keep you posted about the progress of this program and how you can play a part!

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Volunteers in Kilimanjaro: Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of our article discussing our Girl Impact project in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania and the arrival of our first volunteer, check it out here!

With the departure of Marina, our first Girl Impact volunteer, we welcomed the arrival of Girl Impact volunteer number two Alison. This also marked the return to a wonderful project NAFGEM, a haven for inspiring girls who escaped female genital mutilation.

During this programme we delivered workshops in gender inequality, contraception, dowry and sexual health. This two week programme was amazing with staff and volunteers leaving inspired and amazed by these wonderful girls and their positivity and outlook on life. Throughout the programme we were continually surprised and impressed by the views of these girls and how open and courageous they were while discussing topics that many would find challenging and embarrassing.

On our final day we had a graduation where everyone shared things they learnt during the programme.  The feedback and positivity was moving:

group photo gender empowerment tanzania

‘Women are strong, women are intelligent’, – GI student

“I am so inspired by all of the beautiful girls of NAFGEM and will remember you always” – Kate African Impact Academy Volunteer

‘Girls are able’- GI student

‘I learned that when girls come together and support each other, amazing things can happen’- Alison GI volunteer

‘All people are equal under the sun’ GI student

 ‘This programme inspired me to remember this famous quote by former Irish president Mary Robinson: “Women, who instead of rocking the cradle rocked the system”’ – Gill Programme Manager

 

staff gender empowerment volunteer groupOur project continues presently with an after school Girls Club in our local secondary school. This project has gotten off to an energetic start with numbers jumping from 38 girls to 46 girls in just one day. With this club we will be covering workshops based on the topic of physical & mental health, adolescence, sexual health and decision making.

The response for our programme so far has been amazing with the students really taking over and getting involved in discussion. Our programme doesn’t end in the classroom, our volunteers are also enjoyed female empowerment movies and discussion evenings, and Alison our volunteer is currently running a girl impact social media campaign tackling different gender stereotypes using our craft day in kindergarten class as a means to portray these and the outreach has been amazing so far.

girls club gender empowerment tanzaniaGreat progress has been made to date worldwide but we are still a long way off reaching equality. We all need to work together to bridge the gap, because there have never been more ways to fight for women’s equality, and with our Girl Impact programme we are working together to achieve that goal by educating and empowering our community; male and females alike on the barriers faced by women in today’s society and ways of overcoming these barriers.

One of our students at NAFGEM has summed up perfectly everything we are trying to achieve with this programme. ‘All people can do everything; all people are equal in this world about all things. Let us fight for our right because we are strong and we can do everything in this world.’

‘Girls are able.’

 

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