My name is Sioni Ayubu Mollel. I am coming from Lendikinya village. I am from of a family of children. I have an older sister and two young brothers.I went to school in Lendikinya. I consider myself lucky to get accepted to the Orkeeswa School in my village.Orkeeswa School is a community based day school which is located in the rural area of northern Tanzania. The school has been part of my success in my education career. I went to Orkeeswa School from 6th grade to 12th grade.When I was in my 11th grade I wanted to look for support financially for my college education.One of my school councillors at Orkeeswa talked to me about Africa's Tomorrow and I agreed to apply and here I am today with the support of Africa’s Tomorrow.
I was really interested to apply for college support because I did not know how to pay for my education after Orkeeswa. After my senior year of high school in Tanzania, I really wanted to gain more experience, meet new people, gaining intellectual stimulation both in class and outside class and so I applied to do a postgraduate year to increase my chances of getting into college in the states.I applied to two schools and I was accepted into one of them(Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro,NH). While I was in Brewster, I applied to go to Franklin and Marshall college in Lancaster,Pennsylvania. I was accepted and that made the highlight of my life because I did not know what to do if I hadn’t been accepted in the college. After being accepted to college I had the second question which was how can I pay for the expenses on campus?.This question really bothered me and made me anxious so much. It reached a point where I was like I am going back to Tanzania. The opportunity that changed my life came to be the fact that Africa’s Tomorrow has given me a non-interest loan is useful to pay my tuition fee and to have money to spend while I am on campus. As a freshman and the newest member of the Africa’s Tomorrow, I feel so excited to be part of the amazing community which is full of support and encouragement for people to make the difference in their communities.
I can’t wait to see what the future holds for not only the Africa’s Tomorrow community members but also for myself as an individual. Understanding that this is a privilege and not a right is the driving force for me to work hard to achieve my goals and most importantly to become one of the few role models for the younger generation of women in Tanzania. I can’t say thank you enough for all the Africa’s Tomorrow board members, donors, sponsors, host families and students for the amazing job you do to make our future bright. It truly means the world to us as women from Africa.
My winter break in Washington state with Africa’s tomorrow girls is one of the most valuable holidays of my life. It was my first time meeting these extraordinary African girls, Doctor Tanuja, and Izaak Edvalson, who is the founder of Africa’s tomorrow. I arrived in Washington State on December the 17th and to my surprise, I was warmly welcome by Izaak and Tanuja and my colleagues. They made me feel at home with that welcome. I basically received more than I expected of my colleagues and Mr. Izaak. Having stayed two weeks in Colville, Washington State, I have learned that they are people who care much about me despite their race, culture or color.
I had a lot of fun with my colleagues from Africa. Some of the fun activities I experienced are sliding, swimming, hiking on the mountains, building a snow woman, sitting in the hot tub, and playing games. We hiked 955ft of elevation. I almost gave up on the hike because I was exhausted. However, I made it to the end with the support from the hiking team. The hiking inspired me in a positive way. One lesson that I drew from the hiking was that I can make what seems impossible to me to become possible with the support of the positive people that surround me. We, also, had a family get together every night to watch movies, games, and discussions.
In addition, I had the opportunity to meet the local business owners in Colville and we did a short presentation about African Tomorrow. I also went to see a wrestling Match between Colville and DeerPark, where we met the best state wrestler of the Washington State. I wanted to compete with him, but I thought it wise to get my wrestling training before the competition.
I personally enjoyed the beauty of Colville. It is a small town surrounded by splendid mountains, forest and few rivers. It is so beautiful to see the sun set on the mountains and the endless snow. What makes this town more outstanding is the lovely people who dwell in it. We met and talked with the residents everywhere in the town. And any time we meet them, they express the interest of talking with us though they don’t know us. It amazing to me how they go to the extent of inviting us to their home for dinner and they wish we could come back individually to spend some vacation with them.
The main purpose of my winter break in Washington state was Africa’s tomorrow new year eve fundraiser and party event. However, I explored many things as mentioned above before the event. The event was very successful. We had a panel discussion, which was basically for Africa’s tomorrow women to share their stories. Then comes couple of dance and music performances. It was my first time in a party and that was super-fabulous. The event gave me the chance to meet the 2018 national teacher of the united states, Mandy Manning. She led our panel discussion and we took some selfies. we went for skiing two days after the event, and it was incredible. We had a few falls, but no one was hurt except that they had to rescue some of my colleagues with the ski rescue motor bike. Every single activity we had, every single moment we shared, every single place we went was full of love and care from Izaak Edvalson and his wife, Doctor Tanuja, and my colleagues and the people of Colville. Finally, the break ended, and we had to disperse to our various States on January the 5th, which was very sad.
To those who could not make it to our fundraiser and party, please check on Africa’s tomorrow website and give your share. We will make sure the party Champaign gets to you the next time we meet. Thanks to everyone who made this break successful for me. Mpuushapam.
It was a privilege to be part of the winter break program for Africa's Tomorrow where I was able to meet other women from different countries in Africa that I had not met before. Sharing different stories, food and backgrounds which shows the diverseness among even ourselves since each country in Africa has different tribes and languages which makes our gatherings interesting after all we are all different with different perspectives and ideas which makes our lives delightful. It was a pleasing moment that enabled me to experience many new things such as riding on the horse, bathing in a hot tub, sledding and skiing in snow. All these things I had not done them before that is why it was an astonishing experience full of fun, joy and laughter. These are the things that I will never forget in my life time.
In addition, we hiked on Colville Mountain, through 955 feet of elevation, meeting dears, wild turkey and other animals. It was during this time that one of the Africa's Tomorrow student told us a funny or interesting story: she thought that bears were not real and unicorns were. And it was also during this time that we viewed the differences among ourselves which makes our reunions to be full of happy moments that sometimes we fail to see or acknowledge.
Another reason for our winter break was the New Year's Eve event which was mainly raising funds and raising awareness of Africa's Tomorrow. And also making donors to meet Africa's tomorrow students personally in order to hear their stories and experiences so that we can create a great bond among ourselves and the donors, to also get donors to become more involved in the program. And through this event, I was able to be interviewed by the 2018 National Teacher of the year of United States, Mandy Manning.
Was not that an amazing thing? How many people in all the Fifty States of United States that want to meet Mandy Manning personally at least to have a hand shake with her? It was a blessing and an honor to meet her. Thank you everyone who has enabled me to have this chance of experiencing all these amazing things that I did not think of doing before.
More still, as we were all sharing our stories with people, I learned that all these Africa’s tomorrow students have different achievements and struggles which makes everyone unique. So the chance we were given at the event made our voices to be heard by every person and yet in some of the African countries like Uganda, women voices are not respected or even heard. however here, i have a chance to say whatever i would like the world or people to hear and each world I speak is respected. Thank you.
LENDING A HAND HEALS MY HEART
I have been needing a lot of help almost all my life and it created an understanding of the feeling of need in me such that I think I sense it within when I see someone who needs help. I learned to offer any small assistance at an early age after feeling an extreme need for help myself. Funny how I was told that, as a toddler I did not want to share anything not even the parents I came to share with older siblings! They could not wait to share everything with me but when I arrived, I wanted my parents, teachers and favorite people to myself. It wasn’t long before life taught me in my teenage years that, I was on this earth with a mission to make a difference by giving my whole life to LENDING A HAND to others.
Proudly, there are a lot of things that I have done for people and I think they are all important because I know how every little help counts. However, the most significant was a helping hand I offered to a young girl. She had completed high school with distinction but lacked the support to continue to college. She stayed at home for almost three years until I found out that she was beginning to give up on life. I reached out and talked to her. I got friends from back home who had completed college and got jobs to reach out to her and they contributed as a group to buy her admission forms and I wrote to heads of institutions. Until a few responded. She got into one of Ghana’s top Universities this fall, and she is reading mechanical engineering. Another friend I contacted worked tirelessly to put her on a scholarship that pays for everything. I sung and danced the day she texted me about her first day in university.
Why am I so proud of her and the fact that I was part of an important turn over in her life?. She would have fallen into the trap of suicidal thoughts as I can relate to that. My country would have lost one of the most intelligent women to poverty and lack of encouragement. Now I can just keep my fingers crossed in anticipation for the better tomorrow that I am hoping for. Sometimes I can be in need myself but it feels better to lend a hand even if it means giving everything. To help to make a difference, it starts with bold steps.
I am where I am because of my hard work, perseverance and most importantly the generosity of people. People have played a key role in my success and for that reason the best gift to give them back is to put a smile on other people’s faces. I consider myself a success to this point but my success will only be full (successful) if I create a success in another person’s life. Though I cannot count on the instances I have helped people of my age or even older in one way of other, helping students with their college applications and mentoring has been so far. One of the student that I have helped with their applications is now studying in the US. Providing that opportunity for people to advance their goals is key to me.
I do not have to wait to finish my schooling and get a job for me to start helping people. While I am on the wait, I delay the other person’s time in achieving their dreams. I always yearn to help people in the areas that I can. For applications, I did not have anyone that helped me in editing my application essays or to closely guide through TOEFL examination revisions. Maybe if I did, the process could have been much easier. This is why I thrive to help students with their essay writing and also giving some insights into examination preparation techniques.
In the near future I look forward to being a mentor in the areas of career and development among the youth in my community. I hope to start a program that will offer education and career advice for the youths. As a student from Kenya, such resources are not available especially when you are from the rural areas.
My name is Aminatu Abdulai Blessing. I’m from a very beautiful village in Ghana, West Africa, by name “Kolinvai” which means gather and convey. As the name of my village implies, I’m out here in the United States to gather and convey everything back to Africa, my motherland. I’m from an extended family of twenty, including, my seven lovely siblings, four nieces, seven nephews and my only mom and dad. I’m the last born among the eight children of my parents.
Growing up in a large family, things wasn’t stable financially in the family and female child education was not encouraged in my community so I was not sent to school until I was twelve years old. In my family, only four of us had the opportunity to go to school. I still remembered clearly the first day I was sent to school, a twelve years old girl sitting in the midst of nursery kids. Awww poor me right, it was embarrassing but it was worthy. Favor is mine, I found favor always with God and man so my elementary teachers favored me and moved me to class four, where the kids was a bit grown up.
I’m a strong African woman. I never give up on my goals and my dreams though I like crying over little things and I have been crying because I miss home, my family and my friends. I also cry over both my achievements and my failures. My hobbies are; dancing, singing, cooking, cleaning, reading novels and swimming. I never had the chance of swimming in a swim pool until I came to the United States. The hobbies I’m yet to develop are; rock climbing, skydiving and modeling.
I’m currently in my first semester at Montgomery College in Maryland, studying Biological Science. My dream is to become a medical doctor. I hope to help my people in many diverse ways. I’m passionate to help the poor, being an advocate for female child education in my country and providing scholarships for girls to attain higher education.
I feel cold all the time even when the sun is very hot, the air-conditioners make me cold. I wish everyone will switch off their AC and allow this village girl to enjoy warm environment everywhere. I have made many friends and I’m still making. I’m good at making and keeping new friends because I have got great smiles which I can used to attract people. I am a smiling diva. Hahahahahaha. I love myself, my family, my people, my friends, my community and everyone.
Thanks for reading
What has been the most unexpected part of my experience as an African woman/student in the United States? - by Anthoinette Ba-Innimayeh
MY SWEET AND SOUR ALIENNESS
Upon receiving my visa in Ghana and finding out that I would be flying out to the United states in five days, it was all excitement and anxiety. Having experienced all my life what is usually referred to as “Murphy’s law” or “bearer of the guinea fowl head” in my culture, I was ready for anything that could possibly go wrong or right in reverse of the controversial “law”, even though I maintained my usual optimism as I embarked on the journey which will turn my life around dramatically. After landing in this country, the reception was warm, beautiful, and boosted my anticipation for a problem free stay. However, three major things flabbergasted me; the generosity of some people, the conflict of inequality, and the misinformation of the general public here about the part of the world where I hail from.
Firstly, I was awed by the bigheartedness and generosity of my three host families. The fact that they let me in their homes for free and took care of me like family. Friends of these families offered one or two forms of assistance as well in the form of warm clothes, school supplies, a new phone and paying for the bills and paying for conferences, trips and many more. I would never imagine getting this kind of generosity in my country. All of that created a comfort to my initial anxiety of how people will treat me. I am still awed every day when I think about how some people can open their hearts and home to a total stranger. I least expected that much but I am forever grateful to them for making my life easy.
However, it only took a few weeks to discover how dirty, or infectiously sick I was to some other people. The kindness I received earlier almost blinded me to the contrasting stigmatization of my nature (being black and African straight from the land). By being avoided and waved away like an insect, I worried about my ability to deal with that. I must reconcile with my inner pain and anguish to remember that I have been through worse. And, to try to focus on my big goal of achieving that for which I was brought out here to get. It was devastating to find that people would not rent out their places to me. Those who did spoke in a demeaning language to me, cheated me and called me derogatory names and titles in languages they never imagined I would understand.
Besides that, I am astonished to know how, misinformation, misunderstanding and the luck of realistic knowledge most people I have encountered have about cultures across Africa. People are still holding on to events and the knowledge of the 1800s and early 1900. forgetting that, a lot has happened since then and things have changed drastically. The over reliance on the Western media and misunderstanding from those who even took trips to parts of the continent is appalling. In October this year, I was invited by our social science department to deliver a lecture to over two hundred audience consisting of faculty and stuff members. During my lecture, people could not believe the facts and statistics I cited about my country Ghana. Basic things like pictures of the average Ghanaian amazed them. I imagine that people need to do more than just rely on the media because propaganda sells more than being honest in mass media.
Moreover, some of the most misinformed and hateful people I experienced are people of my very own kind- African Americans. I have been told things like “ y’all African smell, you don’t shower good…. our men don’t like y’all because y’all don’t do your hair or wear weaves and y’all don’t look pretty”. I refused to be offended because I know all these things being said are the least of my priorities but on second thought, why is this coming from my own kind?. Those, I will imagine are with us in this era of modern racism and inequality. Now to tackle the bigger picture of racism and inequality in this country, black people would have to do an internal cleaning before having any expectation of racial equality in regard to people of other skin coulors and us.
Over all, it has been sweet and sour as I would not have expected perfection anyway. I am glad that there are some people to look up to and appreciate being here because of their efforts to add beauty to being real humans in a world we share. As for the people making my stay here regrettable, I would say it is all right. After all, this world and this life was not meant to be perfect. I still have some more time to spend here it is my hope for grace and strength to be better than being a sadist to others when I could easily make a better impact. love wins always.
What has been the most unexpected part of my experience as an African woman/student in the United States? - by Anne Achieng
The question on gender inequality is predominantly narrowed down to the cultural aspect of African womanhood. Africa is the land where everyone know that women do not have control over their lives and the only role bestowed upon them is being a motherhood. Even beyond this huge responsibility, they still possess a lot of physical and emotional abuse. Even though some of this perceptions on women still exist in certain places, there has been a lot of development in Africa in terms of women advancement. I did not expect to see the same notions in America. There is still a huge insecurity among women in their potentials and abilities especially in the industry level.
I am working in a team of six students this summer as a software developer and it is really exciting. Within this team of six students, we are only two girls. The rest are men. I had not thought that one day I will be intimidated by the ego of men at a work place. While growing up in Kenya, I have never experienced an outright underestimation of a woman’s intellectual ability. In most high schools, even if they are mixed schools, girls always competed with boys in a fair ground without any degrading of a girl's potential. There are often girls who are smart in sciences and mathematics and I was a good example.
Women are not only less represented in the technological or any industry but are paid less compared to their male coworkers as studies has shown. In spite of hearing this in the news and social media, I had not fully grasped its reality. It only dawned on me during this summer internship. For instance, in most cases my male college are always hesitant team up with the two of us. Mainly because we are women.
I was quick to notice such a behavior because it was a shock to me. It was beyond my expectations as an international student. I am not implying that this crushed me as a woman. It was a wake-up call. To be a voice for other women. It does not matter whether I am a woman or a man, knowledge is to all. This had just happened after I attended a Women Undergraduate Summit with McKinsey Company and on that day I could see through the speakers that there is a huge leap that women have to take to ensure that they achieve their career dreams. On the their book, "How Remarkable Women Lead," Joanna and Susie shows that women two "could stand down their fears and gain the confidence, and single-mindedness to lead, without losing their warmth personal authenticity or creativity."
In summary, it was quite ironical that a lot has been achieved in the issue of gender discrimination but there is still a lot to accomplish starting from America.
In February 2010, I read a novel titled, “Grief Child”. It is written by a Ghanaian writer called Efo Kwadwo Mawugbe. I cried the whole day reading that book and putting myself in the shoes of the main character who suffered an unimaginable grief after losing his parents and suffering through abuse and unfairness. Even nature seemed so unfair to the main character in this novel. It tore my heart apart as I read the book. I could not imagine how I would survive such a life of grief and misery.
Later that year, events started to occur in my own life similarly to the book I read earlier. I still did not believe things could get that bad in my little life. After surviving through my own kind of the grief, abuse and hopelessness, I assumed I could help other people rise through their struggles by simply trying to give them hope by inspiring them using my personal experiences. It started when friends will tell me how strong I have been and that simply gave me more strength to fight on. Most of my friends will seek advice from me on issues going on in their life.
Eventually, I made it formal to help other young people by inspiring them to be thankful and chase their dreams even if there were obstacles that prevented them from pursuing them. When my goal seemed to be working somehow in Northern Ghana, I had a reason to not give up on my own life despite my daily challenges. I then decided that I will live on for others to get an inspiration to live and also help to make this shared world we live in a better place. I could have wasted my life by suicide or reckless living due to how bad my situation got, but I realized I could channel all that in a more positive way even if my struggles still give me heartaches.
Now, I have a reason to live for and to die for if that is what it takes to make other people's lives better. Until you become a victim of some kind of sufferance, you never know how important it is to survive, lend a hand or to have hope. Hope is one thing that can prevent future calamities or better still control them as they befall. As I stand on the balcony remembering all my tougher times, I appreciate all the little things that gave me hope. I see myself as a soldier, who will lead the battle against mental slavery, and seek justice for the underprivileged women and children in Ghana. Considering, how far I have come regardless of the forces that dragged me towards doom, everything is possible under this sun that lights up the earth.
I am very thankful for all the opportunities like meeting people who motivate and also inspire me. This makes my life more meaningful. Through the Peace Corps in Ghana and some volunteers, I have gained a lot more confidence and strength that the mission I put my life on can be made possible. It is more than awesome to have the Africa’s Tomorrow scholarship to help me achieve a more powerful weapon- a higher Education. Which I can use in the battlefront of empowerment, inspiration and giving hope to other underprivileged people especially women and children in my country Ghana.
“Hey Anne, I saw this program by Africa’s Tomorrow that you can apply to and study in the United States,” said Caitlin, my teacher. I was lost of words, and as an African Kid who respects the elderly, I smiled back and agreed.
I never understood what she really meant, neither was I really serious about it. I could not just fathom what it meant to study in the United States. Indeed, this is one of those opportunities that comes once in a lifetime. Coming to America was the turning point in my life. I am thankful to be Africa’s Tomorrow Fellow. The organization is unique in its own way, if I have to compare it with other organizations in terms of student recruitment. I am from Kenya, Gem County and I am the eldest in a family of five. I am currently a sophomore majoring in Economics and Computer Science at Berea College. My stay in Berea has been a rewarding experience, I have made a lot acquaintances and I love the person I have become.
Saying goodbye to the people I love and taking the last bite of the food that I have grown up eating was an incredible step. On the other hand, while I took a quick glimpse on what the future holds, made me pour out tears of joy while saying goodbye to my family. I wondered, how am I going to survive without Ugali (the African cake, like corn bread) for more than a month? No rice no githeri (Mixture of maize and beans, so good!) Thanks goodness, rice is a global food. I was thrilled and relieved after seeing the plenty rice in America. At first, it was hard to get used to the food, especially cheese which I am actually a fan now. The principle of not sticking to my comfort zone has given me that ability to try new stuff, new food and new things. There are great American dishes that I love now.
It has been a journey of personal growth. I have been able to meet students from different places: Africa, Asia, South America, and many other places. I have been able to learn about the world in short period of time and I want to travel places. United States is a place full of diversity in all aspects of life, be it religion, politics, culture and many others. In the midst of all these diversity, sticking to my principles and knowing who I am as believer in Christ has made this journey an awesome experience.