“When you know better, you do better.” these are the resounding words of Rehema Nsanyiwa, as she reflects back on on her experience through the Foundation and Immersion phase of the Amani Institutes award winning Social Innovation Management program. Thanks to Sophia Foundation in partnership with the Ushindi Scholarship fund initiated by one of our alumni Jessica Chaplin, she was amongst 14 community leaders who were able to receive scholarship to go through the program to gain practical skills that would allow them to scale the impact of their existing programs and as she shares it has been nothing short of transforming for her.
Having been born and raised in rural Uganda, Rehema found herself facing a myriad of challenges from a young age these include lack of access to education, exposure to HIV/AIDS, alcoholism and homelessness. Although these challenges limited the opportunities she could get, Rehema was able to discover her musical potential and it became her saving grace. It is through this self-discovery that she envisioned a society full of empowered young women, equipped with the awareness and the ability to transform their lives and uplift their communities.
In 2011 this vision came to life when she founded Girl Be, a non-profit initiative dedicated to empowering girls in underserved communities through the facilitation of creative skills, space and scholarships. It has evolved over the years having started as a garage program, progressing to using her friends back yard to run programs, a local school compound, an old cinema hall, a community centre to currently having their very own GirlBe Space.
Having had no past experiences to back her up in her journey of changemaking, she had to learn and unlearn many things along the way, “In social change making, there are no blueprints showing you how to do things or telling you where to look, you just sort of start and go. Through the years of running GirlBe, I was just doing what I thought was best but I knew I needed more skills and tools to make myself better as an innovator. So when I heard about Amani and the availability of the opportunity for me to actually participate in the program, I knew it was something I definitely had to do and it has been mind blowing to say the least.”
Through the program, Rehema says she been able to learn more about herself and the highlight specifically for her has been connecting and studying with people from all over the world who are creating a change within their communities in one way or another and understanding that she is not alone in her journey of seeking what she terms as a career of courage.
“I did not have a conventional formal education so I have always learnt by doing things. The Amani program has been the first time I have been in a challenging, motivating and inspiring class for a very long time Throughout the program, I feel that my needs have been met as a changemaker and it has been extremely awakening. Each course had so many Aha moments and I can tell you, I am so ready to keep creating impact within my Uganda.”
As the next steps Rehma is in the process of streamlining the programs she offers in order to serve the community better. This will involve the construction of GirlBe Academy, an intensive creative residential program, fully dedicated to offering deep intimate healing processes for young mothers in Uganda.
“Through the academy, we want young mothers to learn fundamental skills and strategies that they can apply immediately for themselves in preparation for further opportunities in becoming fully self sufficient. Through workshops, with a primary focus on WELLNESS and AWARENESS. We aim to engage young mothers in personal problem solving and assessment of the issues that affect them and the people they care about. In the future, we also hope to partner with practical skills development initiatives to facilitate further opportunities for young mothers in Uganda.”
Curriculum development partnership
Girl Be is also in the process of developing a curriculum to include something which young mothers can learn quickly and intensely and can have long lasting impact in their life. They are also looking for volunteers to support with the project. If you are interested, you can reach out to them on [email protected].
To learn more about the Ushindi Scholarship Fund and the partnership with Sophia Foundation, click here.