SEGA students attended two major leadership conferences this month in Kenya and Rwanda.
by Hannah Wilson and Katie Fiorillo
This December, SEGA was privileged to send students to the East African Girls Leadership Summit (EAGLS) in Kenya and the Ashoka Changemaker Conference in Rwanda.
Five SEGA students attended the third annual EAGLS in Nairobi, Kenya, from December 1st through 5th: Maria (Form 1), Juliana (Form 2), Jacqueline (Form 2), Vivian (Form 3), and Rehema (Form 3).
This summit uses drama, poetry, dance, song, and visual art to help girls learn and practice self-reflection, community-building, and facilitating dialogue about important issues. Three SEGA faculty and staff members – Astridah Katalyeba, Pauline Rusisye, and Clementina Adams – went with the students, and spent four additional days attending training for local leaders on how to incorporate the summit’s arts-based learning methods into their own communities.
Margaret Butler, the co-founder of EAGLS, told us how the summit aims to bring young women together for a conference that is “for them and by them.” The deeply participatory nature of this summit makes it unique – the sessions emphasized not just learning, but action. Students discussed how to generate positive change as an individual, within an organization, and within a larger community.
The girls learned about gender-based violence and discussed strategies for prevention, education, and working with trauma and emotional triggers. They wrote songs, skits, and poetry about everything from the negative effects of female genital mutilation (FGM) to domestic violence and mental abuse. The students also worked on leadership and discussed different leadership styles, learning how to find their unique voice and how to make an impact using their personal strengths. They visited two all-female companies, one non-profit and one for-profit, and learned from female entrepreneurs about their lives and their work. The sessions emphasized actionable ideas, helping the girls answer practical questions about what kinds of resources they will need to reach their goals.
The first EAGLS cohort coined the name “Urimuri Dadas” for themselves – Sisters in Light. Three years later, the girls participating in EAGLS still use the name Urimuri Dadas in creating powerful art about female leadership and empowerment. We are proud that SEGA is part of this community of future leaders!
SEGA was honored to send two Form 3 students, Hawa and Nchambi, to the Ashoka Changemaker Camp for East Africa, in Rwanda on December 7th and 8th. SEGA is the only Ashoka Changemaker school in all of Tanzania, and the two SEGA students were excited to participate and connect with other students from Changemaker Schools throughout East Africa. For two days, our students and their chaperone, volunteer Katie Fiorillo, attended sessions about how to create impact in their communities. The conference had participants from Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda. Hawa and Nchambi were among only seven students from Tanzania selected for the conference!
The SEGA girls got the chance to learn from other young people about how to start a social venture, and how to improve their community, their country, and their continent. They toured the Kigali Genocide Memorial honoring the lives and memories of the one million Rwandan Tutsi people killed in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. During a session, Rwandan youth who were attending the conference shared how the genocide impacted their lives, and emphasized the importance of empathy in young people. Atrocities like genocide are only possible when there is a lack of empathy for fellow human beings. The conference emphasized the importance of empathy and understanding when trying to create a change in your community. After the sessions and the tour, male and female students from all four participating countries played a football (soccer) match together, symbolizing equality and unity across East Africa, and a desire to work together to form a better future for all.
As we head into the new year, we applaud our SEGA girls for their leadership, and give thanks to the faculty and staff who helped make these learning experiences a reality!
Become an #EmpowerHER member today! If we reach our goal of 50 new donors by December 31st, we will receive a challenge grant of $5,000! Click here to donate and share.