Wednesday, January 27, 2021

A day out in the skies with prolific young minds

Su Williams captured it best when he said “Dare to dream, for in the daring there is defiance to live beyond your circumstances.”  

And that is what one of the first female military pilots in Botswana Defence Force, Captain Kgomotso Phatsima is doing by boldly making strides to promote Science, Technology, Engineering Arts, Mathematics and Entrepreneurship (STEME) and Aviation and Aerospace in this country through young people.

The founder of Dare to Dream, a social enterprise based at Botswana Innovation Hub Technology Park in Gaborone dedicated to the advancement of youth, women and girls in STEME as well as Aviation and Aerospace, on Sunday held the second leg of the Fly for STEME Southern Africa Initiative.

The initiative that is aimed at inspiring young people to consider careers and business opportunities in fields of STEME and Aviation and Aerospace took on about 70 young people on a scenic flight over Gaborone and its surrounding areas.

The flight that was filled to capacity with mainly young people that were boarding a flight for the first time was such a breath of fresh air for the young and curious minds.

Captain Kgomotso Phatsima

The scenic flight isn’t the only highlight or benefit from this initiative but these young minds are also taken through a masterclass by a career coach and a leadership class from working professionals. It’s an all-round program meant to ignite their dreams.

Through their partnership with Air Botswana, FNBB Foundation, Career Coaching, Blind Vision and Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana, Captain Phatsima is able to bring a fully-fledged programme to these young enthusiasts.

The package for the Fly for STEM Southern Africa Initiative is 600 pula which includes a leadership masterclass, career coaching and free merchandise.

The next upcoming one is slated for 13th December 2020 in Francistown where they will be impacting young people’s lives in that area.

Dare to Dream also has a running program at their Botswana Innovation Hub offices that focuses on robotics and coding where they teach young people programming and how to assemble aeroplanes. They enrol children from as early as 8-19 years but they have an exception for children younger than that who show interest in this field.

With their just ended second programme, they have impacted about 140 students to date and their goal is to go to Francistown and do 70 more students.

“Our aim is to impact 1,000 students through this Fly STEM Southern Africa Initiative and to take the initiative to 5 or 10 other Southern African countries,” said Captain Phatsima.

She encourages young people to be fearless in the pursuit of what sets their soul on fire.

Her motivation for starting this program was borne out of the fact that she had never had the opportunity to sit inside of a flying machine and let alone sit with a pilot until she had the opportunity to fly one.

After qualifying as one of the first female military pilots in Botswana she started Dare to Dream to inspire the next generation and give them a chance she never had.

She says before Covid-19 she never knew a Motswana child could book a whole flight and that she has since seen a lot of support from companies and individuals here in Botswana.

“The challenge before was that people were not supporting us because what we were doing was different and unique, we were working with AIRBUS as they were the only ones who understood what we were doing but after Covid-19 there is so much support from all angles,” she noted.  

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