#ThursdayThoughts: Celebrating Our 2020 Mentor Fellows

Congratulations to the 2020 cohort of Mentor Fellows who completed a year of mentoring the 150 girls in our Sauti ya Dada program this month! In a virtual celebration, the Fellows gathered with Creative Action Institute staff to reflect on the growth, inspiration, and accomplishments they experienced in the past year. We were also joined by members of the 2021 Mentor Fellow cohort and teachers from schools in East Africa that will be hosting after-school Sauti ya Dada groups this year!

During the celebration, Mentor Fellows shared images that represented what Sauti ya Dada meant to them. In illustrated artworks, the Fellows shared visions of strong and rooted trees, a new courageous self, a mother eagle soaring and protecting her young, a woman with butterflies rising to the sky, and candles beaming light. Each were beautiful and moving in their own way, but we particularly wanted to highlight the image provided by Ruth, a mentor from Komera in Rwanda:

"A cave is normally in a desert, is normally formed in isolation. It has a hole where you can enter and then you feel safe - there's no rain, there's no lion to eat you. Sauti ya Dada was a cave in such a critical time of the pandemic. Outside the cave, there were a lot of challenges. Girls had lost hope. No school anymore, lots of pregnancies, rape. There were a lot of challenges outside of the Sauti ya Dada program but those who were inside were growing together, branching, expanding. They felt peace."

We are so inspired by the tremendous growth, leadership, and support our 2020 Mentor Fellows have demonstrated this year, and for providing that safe space of peace and hope for hundreds of girls in East Africa. We know they’ll continue to provide that space for every girl they work with from here onward, and we can't wait to see what the 2021 Sauti ya Dada Mentor Fellows bring this year!