Written by Mercy Naitore, Finance and Admin Officer

Dottie Scholars is a girls scholarship program launched by Dignitas in 2011. The program aims to provide young women from marginalized communities with an opportunity to attend a high-quality secondary school and develop as leaders and role models in their community. In total 68 girls have benefited from the program with 48 successfully graduating from high school. Currently, there are 20 active scholars in the program in Form three and Form four.

At Dignitas, we believe that transformational leadership is a positive force that demonstrates empathy, love, patience, and kindness in an authentic and positive way. Every school holiday, Dignitas brings the Scholars together for leadership development training to equip them with the skills that will help them become positive change-makers in their communities. When schools closed due to COVID – 19, our engagement with the scholars was limited. The Dignitas team creatively developed a virtual weekly mentorship program that would allow engagement with the scholars who were now at home. In addition, the scholars were facilitated with gadgets and weekly data bundles to support their learning and participation in online school lessons. 

When we shared the news with the scholars, it appeared to be difficult at first because of minimal experience with virtual learning.  However, everything was seamless after our first engagement. To ensure a great learning experience for the scholars, we engaged our partners and friends at YouthVest, Mtoto News, Karavi Services, and ZanaAfrica to deliver this training. The topics varied from menstrual health, change, gender-based violence, stress management, trauma and anxiety, social media, personal branding, and time management. From the feedback and reflections received, there was a lot of learning and scholars drew very important lessons. 

I will use what I have learned during this period to teach my peers that life can get hard at times…I will teach them how to view change from a positive perspective”. Janet, Form Three

 “I was able to learn how to deal with stress and anxiety and also how to adapt to changes, things might be hard at times but when this happens you get up, adapt and avoid being afraid of change. Everything I faced during this period Dignitas played a huge role in helping me manage everything”- Stephanie, Form Four

“The sessions were interactive, well-coordinated, and informative. The topics discussed in most of the sessions were necessary since we do not learn them in school and, I think the way they were handled and taught to us gave us some very vital information. My most enjoyable moments were when the facilitators asked us about our opinions on the given topic  and how I could also listen to other people’s perspectives. What I learned from the sessions and activities we did gave me a new perspective and point of view and introduced me to new techniques”Sarah, Form Four

When a crisis is approached from a hopeful viewpoint, rather than with a stance of resistance, we can gain unparalleled practice.

The Dignitas team appreciate the time and energy Mercy invested in our Dottie Scholars in a very demanding season!  As you can see from what she has shared here, it was a wise and fruitful investment! Kudos Mercy!