Reflections from Super Sisters workshop

My name is Erika Halonen. I’m a business administration student at Åbo Akademi University in Finland. In addition I’m a member of the Super Sisters organization.

Super Sisters believe that by helping women find what they are passionate about and empowering them to take action they can change the world around them. It might not always be easy, but with the support of a network of peers, both local and global, faith in what we are doing, and hard work, we can find the strength to overcome obstacles and turn challenge into opportunity.

Taking part in this International Co-Innovation Week was a great opportunity for me and I’m very grateful for it. I had never been to Tanzania before, or any other African country for that matter. Therefore, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Our visit was very short, only four days, so I knew we would only have the chance to see quite a limited part of Dar Es Salaam. But what would that part be? What would I learn from this trip?

Though I only had four days, those days were rather intense. In terms of places we didn’t see much, what with shuttling between our hotel, KINU and Costech?s Innovation Space. Of course it would have been nice to see more of the city and its surroundings, but those things will still be there next time. For I do hope there will be a next time. More importantly, we got to meet a number of great people! In my opinion, the best way to get to know any place is to spend time with the locals. They are the heart and soul of any place.

And speaking of heart and soul, there was truly plenty of both! What struck me was the commitment in everyone we met. The commitment to the workshops and exercises we presented them with, but even more so, the full hearted commitment to work for their community. So many of the people I talked to talked about different ways and measures they wanted to pursue that would in one aspect or another improve the quality of life, infrastructure and opportunities for themselves, their peers and the generations to come.

Erika and Doris working on Super Sisters exercise

Erika and Doris working on Super Sisters exercise

There is a lot that can still be improved in terms of infrastructure, ICT, entrepreneurship and activating young women on these issues. Therefore I was moved by the commitment they showed. The people we met, I believe, are the ones who are going to be the agents for change in their communities.

The other thing that struck me, to some extent even surprised me, was the realization of the fact that the challenges the women we talked to are facing, are the same challenges we are facing in Finland. Or in any other part of the world for that matter. Cultural contexts may vary, but I was glad to see that the things that unite us by far out do the things that separate us. I hope this is something that also came through in our talks ? all you wonderful people that we met, we are all part of the same world and we all struggle with the same things, if someone, anywhere else in the world can overcome an obstacle, so can we! That goes for all of us, regardless of where we live.

Out of everything that came out of this trip, the thing that makes me the happiest is the notion that the activities commencing during our stay, will not end with us leaving! I would like to extend a big thank you from the bottom of my heart to Carolyne and Tolly who met through our workshops and will now start working together to organize events for women. The same goes for the great people at KINU and COSTECH Innovation Space for their willingness to facilitate these activities. We will keep in touch and hope to stay up to date with developments on your end.

Our goal was to inspire local women to become more active, and I know that if they are even half as inspired by us as I have been by them, then we have met our goals.

-Erika Halonen


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