“It was my first time at an airport and the first time I got in a plane . . . I want to be a pilot,” Phemo from the village of Dikgonnye told us after her day at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport.
In celebration of this year’s UN World Creativity and Innovation Day, Aviation for Humanity partnered with the Botswana-based nonprofit Dare to Dream to bring Phemo and 29 other schoolgirls from rural Botswana to the airport for a full day of education and empowerment.
Having never been to an airport or seen an aircraft up close, the girls had a day full of firsts. They were taken on a tour of four models of aircraft—the Beechcraft Baron 58, Beechcraft Hawker 800, Cessna Grand Caravan, and Cessna 172—and spoke directly to pilots and other aviation professionals. They also engaged with the Airbus Little Engineer program, which allows students to explore STEAM-focused learning, such as aerospace mission planning, robotics, and 3D modeling.
The girls are students in the Artesia Junior Secondary School in the Kgatleng district of Botswana. They live in rural settlements surrounding the village of Artesia. The culture in this region is such that many girls are not aware that they are able to pursue any career, let alone a career in a STEAM field. Following the Creativity and Innovation Day event, 15-year-old Kelebogile shared that “I learnt that whilst still at my age I have to have a dream, work hard, and achieve it. The motivation I had from the captain inspired me and gave me confidence to work on myself.”
It is the mission of Dare to Dream to advance African youth, women, and girls by nurturing their curiosity for and opportunities in STEAM and entrepreneurial fields, specifically aviation and aerospace. The organization was founded by Captain Kgomotso Phatsima, one of the first female military pilots in Botswana. Inspired to create an event that would show Botswanan girls that careers in STEAM are available to them, Phatsima connected with Aviation for Humanity president Kimberly Perkins. Working together, Captains Phatsima and Perkins were able to show that STEAM career successes just like theirs are available to those 30 incredible girls. It is their intent to do the same for many more.
It is the goal of the two organizations to repeat this event each quarter in order to create a recurring pathway of empowerment and education for a total of 120 girls per year. Sponsoring this event is one way that Aviation for Humanity is continuing to empower youth around the world through education, despite the challenges that the pandemic has presented to the traveling public and aviation community imperative to the organization’s mission. To cover the transportation from the girls’ rural homes to the airport, food for the day, and guest speakers, the cost for each girl to attend is 65 dollars. Contributions are currently being accepted, and donors can cover the cost of an individual girl’s experience or can contribute to the event as a whole. Interested donors can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or donate through our website.
By: Jordan Watson
May 5, 2021