Over last summer, I’ve been fortunate to be part of all girls camp. I discussed my experience volunteering at WiSci 17’, mostly highlighting the humbling moments where the girls in turn were an our inspiration in eyes of all they’ve had to overcome. As time passed, I had this unshakable feeling, the eternal dilemma when embarking on a journey for a cause:

  • Is this enough? Is the education we are providing something far removed from the challenges of the economy they reside in?
  • Are we doing enough to set them up for success beyond the camp?
  • Quite frankly, in introspection, am I the kind of inspiration they need? How to be an ally to let them be inspired by the wonderful women of the camp?
  • How are our stories taken by the girls, is perseverance the moral? or leaving their comfort zone? Could that have a negative impact in their communities?

As I’ve asked myself these questions I’ve also found answers, not in the hypothetical or false correlation sense, but seeking data and concrete examples on how our help has been changing these girl’s life.

Is this enough? The State Department has embarked one more time on the adventure, the site of the camp will be in Windhoek this year. Consistency and continuity in this project will ensure that we give a lot of the same opportunities to young girls from various backgrounds. Just doing it again affect several young girls in the same communities or different communities this time, making it a norm to aspire to STEAM and broadening the impact of those who also can be affected by this.

Are we doing enough to set them up for success? We’ve been keeping close contact with the headmasters of the school, the program has a lot of pedagogical follow ups. My worries are of one who is only a participant, but from the organizers philosophy a lot went through this. The young girls are close to graduating highschool, it’s the perfect age to inspire a change in career path. The follow ups from their schools is ensuring continuity. The application process requires a mentor. That mentor is also on the path to follow ups, so they girls are not left alone feeling helpless.

The sub-Saharan African pedagogy on education is different. You don’t have to look far online to find skits and caricatures of what it is to be educated in a traditional African Family and the importance on education, but you also don’t have to look too far to see the gap between girls and boys education. From 2000-2015 UNESCO Global Education for All Global Monitoring Report, No country in sub-Saharan Africa has achieved gender parity in both primary and secondary education, according to UNESCO Press Release in 2015.

My inspiration to become an engineer comes from a lot of various factors, but one of the anecdotes that touches me the most is a social studies professor I once had who simply said: “You can do it!”. I’ve noticed in my journey for this answer is to keep putting at the forefront Lynn, Caroline, Astri, Adrienne, Lena, Darah, Urpi, Shariffa, Mayra, Kate, Lisa, Kim and Dei. These and many more are their inspiration, being there to remind them is amongst others, one thing I can do.

This is a “reportage documentary”, called “the Film” that answers all the questions I’ve been having about this, but most essentially the question that weighs the heaviest on me: What is the moral? What are these girls taking away from this. In this docu-series, you’ll see the genuine expression of the girls feeling through the camp, the lessons they’ve learned, learning moments for us and more. Stay tuned for my thoughts on Windhoek 2018!