Hello! My name is Kiera Torpie and I am a rising junior at Tulane. I study Linguistics, International Development, and I have a minor in French. Additionally, I write satire for the student-led journal, The Rival, sing for the jazz department, and I am a part of Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE), which is a mentorship program that informs middle school girls about sexual health and self love. This summer I will be interning at Mama Maji. The New Orleans based NGO seeks to empower women by incrementally funding their water projects until they are self-sustainable. The end product is women-led water businesses in Kenya, allowing women to sell water at a fraction of the price at which they otherwise would have to buy it. This summer I plan to enhance my (1) grant proposal skills, (2) NGO sensibility, (3) non-profit bilingualism, (4) time-management and (5) project management skills.
While I have experience applying for personal and club-related grants, I am excited to see how this larger-scale process relates to or departs from what I am used to. I realize that funding is the backbone of any non-profit work, so I believe this skill set will be extremely useful in my future ventures.
Additionally, it is important to work on my NGO sensibility if I ever see myself working internationally. Because most of my academic work is a critique of internationally development fieldwork, I look forward to observing how Mama Maji goes about accomplishing its mission.
It is also important that I become fluent in the language that is “non-profit jargon.” I realized I was behind in this skill set during my first meeting with my advisor, Brian, when I had no idea what the word “capacity building” meant. I had already written it down 13 times. Because so many of these words sound familiar, it is easy to believe you understand them. Part of my internship this summer will take listening closely and feeling comfortable asking questions when I don’t know the answers or am feeling lost. I’m excited to speak non-profit by the end of August.
Because my projects this summer have strict and cyclical deadlines, I will have to excel at time management. Admittedly, planning ahead is not something I totally enjoy devoting time to. However, this internship is an excellent opportunity to turn it into a habit.
Finally, I look forward to working with the project management team at Mama Maji. I have never worked in project management, so this will be an eye-opening experience. I will get to Skype with Maji Mama’s and see how they choose to organize their businesses. Additionally, I can take these interactions as supplemental research for a policy paper I wrote in the fall on water management in southeast Kenya.
In order to prepare for this internship, I have been meeting with my supervisor every Saturday for the past few months. During these meetings, I have been trained in media design and Mama Maji’s approach at applying for grants. I feel prepared for my projects, and can’t wait to see where this summer takes me!