It’s happened to even the most serious-minded news junkie: you’re distracted by the newsreader’s appearance rather than the message conveyed – her new hair style, or his questionable choice of tie.
The same happens when humanitarian aid groups send non-Africans to teach in development projects. Not surprisingly, an audience of Africans who have had little exposure to outsiders might be distracted by the exotic nature of the bearer of the message, rather than the training they impart.
This is one good reason for choosing to train local people to teach others in their community.
Another reason is because the developed world should aim to make itself redundant and irrelevant in Africa – we should be passing along whatever skills and information local people might find useful, not digging in and taking jobs that Africans can do themselves.
Yet another reason is that people will be more inspired by the achievements of one of their own community, against the odds they all face. That is why Network for Africa is celebrating the women who came to our Aspire project to learn new skills, and who are now working as teachers and mentors.
Several of our graduates have become teachers in the Aspire projects. What can be more motivating than seeing that a goal that seems so daunting – becoming literate, setting up your own business – has been achieved by a woman who has struggled with the same challenges you face? It also increases the confidence of the new arrivals when they learn that the woman teaching them hairdressing was a student, just like them, a couple of years ago.
Some of our graduates also act as mentors to women who have just joined the project. They share their experiences, raising awareness about the opportunities available at the Aspire project, if people attend regularly and make the most of the training offered (hairdressing, cooking, literacy, First Aid, health, hygiene, family planning, etc).
Women’s personal stories of how they have transformed their lives have a powerful effect on people who are sometimes overwhelmed by their circumstances, be it poverty, illiteracy, a lack of marketable skills, or an unhealthy family. These “change stories” encourage women to believe they can bring more harmony to their home lives, earn money, educate and feed their children, and be respected members of their community.
Our mentors also explain the value of saving small amounts of their earnings each week. They stress that it doesn’t have to be a large amount, just so long as they contribute to our savings and loans schemes. Thank you for making this possible. Please click here to support our continuing work.