Congratulations, Francis Sakala!

Last week, Impact Network was represented at the Chimtende Zone Science Fair. Roughly 90 students from grades 2-4 attended the fair, and 10 students of those students came from Mkale Community School. Francis Sakala, a grade 3 student at Mkale, came in 3rd place! He will compete at the Katete District fair later this month!

I traveled to Mkale to ask Francis some questions about his experience competing in the science fair. Joseph, our Operations Manager, drove me out on the motorbike. Mkale School is one of the furthest schools from the office and it takes over an hour to get there by motorbike. The journey there is beautiful, rock formations and huge baobab trees dot the way. I learned that Mkale gets its name from the Mkale stream just behind the school. Mkale hosts grades 1-7 and serves over 200 students. The nearest government school is several kilometers away. The distance between schools is always a reminder of how far some students would have to travel if there weren’t Impact schools near their homes.  

Francis comes from Msonde Village which is right next to Mkale School. He was very shy during our interview, probably because he had an audience of his curious peers watching as we asked him questions. Francis speaks some English but we needed a translator. Sylvester Banda, a Grade 5 teacher, helped us out. Sylvester took all of the students from Mkale to the science fair so he was able to answer some additional questions.

Mangani Banda on the left, Francis in the middle, and Sylvester Banda on the right

Mangani Banda on the left, Francis in the middle, and Sylvester Banda on the right

Hi Francis, congratulations on winning the science fair!  What was your project?

I made an antibiotic paste to kill bacteria using local materials.

Did anyone help you with making the antibiotic paste?

Mr. John Lungu, head teacher at Mkale showed me which materials to use and how to prepare the paste.  

How did you feel about winning the science fair?

I was very excited to win!

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be a doctor when I grow up.

Were your parents excited when you won?

They were very excited when I told them. They encouraged me to continue on in the same spirit!

I spoke with Mangani Banda, Francis’s 3rd grade teacher. He, like Francis’s parents, was very proud when he learned that Francis won. He is excited to see where Francis goes from here! I’m sure Francis has a lot of supporters from the Impact Network community and we will be rooting for him when he attends the Katete District Science Fair.

-- Kristen Fraley, Program Implementation Intern

Celebrating International Women's Day in the Air!

This week, we celebrated International Women’s Day. To commemorate, I wanted to share with you a handful of stories from a group of inspiring women – Bessie Coleman, Esther Mbabazi, Sunita Narula, Kshamta Bajpai, Indira Singh, Gunjan Aggarwal, Sharifah Czarena Surainy Syed Hashim, Dk Nadiah Pg Khashiem and Sariana Nordin.

Bessie Coleman.jpg

Each of these women is a trailblazer in the air – they are all pilots.

Bessie Coleman was the first African-American and first Native-American pilot. Coleman was born in Texas, where she worked in cotton fields at a young age. But she also was able to study in a small school and developed an incredible interest in aviation. No schools in the US would permit her to attend (both because of her heritage and her gender), so she saved up enough funds to go to France and obtained her license. She returned to the US with dreams of opening a school for African American aviators.  She died in 1926 in flight.

Esther Mbabazi is Rwanda’s first female pilot. Like Coleman, she knew from a young age that she wanted to fly, despite her father passing away in a plane crash.  She packed her things and moved to Uganda to attend school and get her pilot’s license. Today, she works for RwandAir, aiming to break barriers and inspire young Rwandan girls.

Gunjan Aggarwal, Sharifah Czarena Surainy Syed Hashim, Dk Nadiah Pg Khashiem and Sariana Nordin made headlines last year as part of the first all-female pilot crew for Royal Brunei Airlines. The flight landed in Saudi Arabia – notable since the ladies were not permitted to drive there, but landed a Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the Saudi airport on February 23rd, 2016.  In particular Syed Hashim was also the first female captain for the airline.

And last week, Air India made history with an all-female crew flying from San Francisco to New Delhi. The entire crew – cockpit, cabin, check-in, doctor, ground crew – even the flight dispatcher, all women. And while it’s easy to dismiss this one as some sort of publicity stunt, it’s also worth considering that each of those crew members has faced a significant struggle to become successful in their chosen field.

Only 3% of pilots worldwide are women. It’s perhaps the most stark contrast in any profession across the globe – even in the military, women make up close to 15% of the total number serving. And in researching each of these women’s stories, I saw two things in common among them all – first, the knowledge early in their lives that they wanted to be in the air; and second, a unique opportunity that made this dream a reality. It made me remember that among our 2,300 students – at least one of them wants to be a pilot. At least one of them dreams of spending their life in the air. And it’s our obligation, our responsibility to provide them with a strong foundation of knowledge – how to read, how to add/subtract/multiply, how to communicate, and prepare them for secondary school and beyond. Let’s get to it.

- Reshma

October Teacher Training Highlights!

October Teacher Training Highlights!

On a monthly basis Impact Network conducts trainings for all the teachers. This is to constantly improve the skills of our teachers and also to give them an opportunity to give us feedback and raise any concerns they may have. In this blog post I would like to share more about our most recent Teacher Training.