Carolyne Sunte, mentor, daughter, aspiring journalist and leader, is one of Asante Africa Foundation’s passionate advocates for making a change in her community of Maasai, Africa. Carolyne motivates us with her dedication to her work as a program coordinator and mentor. With today’s post we wanted to give you a glimpse into who Carolyne is and what motivates her. We hope you are just as inspired and excited by what she has to say as we are!
“When you educate a girl, you have educated the whole community.”
Carolyne knows first hand the value of an educated woman. Afterall, she is one, and has seen the impact of her own growth on her community’s.
When we asked Carolyne why she wanted to be a mentor, she had to speak first about the struggles she and countless other women face by being marginalized in society. Growing up in the male-dominated society of Maasai, Africa, as a woman, Carolyne was not expected to continue her education. She was not expected or encouraged to take on a leadership role. She was not encouraged to pursue her dreams, or even to have dreams at all. It was a constant struggle to find her place.
But it was Carolyne’s ability and willingness, “two necessary traits”, that fueled her desire to make a change. She says, “I had a strong will that one day I would change the trend in the male dominant society”. In fact, Carolyne was the first educated girl ever in her family lineage, an achievement that she does not take lightly.
“[The Asante Africa Foundation] made me realize my dream and helped me to see the leadership qualities in myself.”
After O level studies, Carolyne was not able to pursue higher education due to lack of finances. That’s when she volunteered with Asante Africa Foundation. This allowed her to pursue her education, and by doing this she was already taking the first step to changing the male-dominated trend in her community. She later got involved as the Girls Program Coordinator. Through Asante Africa’s Girls Advancement Program, Carolyne learned social, financial and life skills that gave her the confidence to pursue leadership roles in her school and her community. Her passions for journalism and entrepreneurship were ignited. Finally, she was beginning to gain the confidence to build her dream, and gaining the skills to achieve it.
Carolyne also attended Asante Africa’s LEI program. She says, “Life changed for me and my siblings after I attended the LEI program. I began to put the skills I learnt into practice. I began an orange plantation and started coaching young and old people about entrepreneurship. That instilled the feeling of being a mentor in me.”
“My mother was the best mentor during my childhood life, she was the kind of a woman who would want us to be leaders and to give back to the community.”
Carolyne also has an important woman to thank for inspiring her desire and ability to succeed: her mother. Having a strong, female figure in her life no doubt is an example of the importance of women teaching and leading other women in their community. Carolyne had a strong desire to mentor others who were struggling with the same issues she was; to provide the same support and encouragement her mother gave her. She says, “I believe it’s important to communicate what you know. To provide useful, honest guidance while ensuring that you give best solutions to different individual needs, capacities and opportunities.” These are the marks of being a great mentor.
“I love giving back to the community and country at large. What I admire most is creating a system approach that everyone believes in.”
As a mentor, Carolyne sees the necessity of her work, and finds joy in changing the lives of young people who look up to her with admiration. Creating a “system approach” means engaging the locals in her community. Not only educating girls and women, but also engaging boys and men as allies to the cause as well. As Carolyne says, “change begins gradually and attained in small degrees” but taking the first step is the most important.
“Being a mentor also means you should continue learning about what’s going on in current trends, country economy, the school, the community, or the world at large.”
Carolyne is a continuous and avid learner. Her learning did not end after graduation — it became a part of her everyday life as a mentor as well. Carolyne does all she can to make sure she doesn’t remain stagnant in her knowledge of the world and it’s ever-changing technology, society, and economy. She believes that having an education should impact every part of her life and her future as well.
“Educate the next generation of change agents whose dreams and actions will transform the future of Africa and the world.”
So, what can we do to encourage our young women to be leaders in their communities? For Carolyne, it’s as simple as one word, and it comes as no surprise: education. We must continue to educate our young women to set sustainable goals, and Carolyne particularly mentions goals that will provide economic empowerment, such as creating financial freedom. Our young women can and will be the change agents in their society.
Finally, we asked Carolyne for some advice she could give to young girls who want to be leaders in their community. She left us with this: “The change we want to see today begins with you being the change. Nothing is impossible … when you educate a girl, you have educated the whole community.”
Thank you, Carolyne, for sharing some of your unique experiences with us as a mentor and as an Asante Africa Foundation advocate. We are also so thankful for the work you do in your community and beyond!