On Saturday, while at the camp in Chibombo, Dr Natasha Salifyanji Kaoma visited us. Helen had mentioned many of her achievements prior to her visit. Therefore, we knew exactly the person with whom we would be interacting. All of us scholars had our minds set to learn from and relate with the success of Dr Natasha.
After all the introductions, Dr Natasha gave us a brief history of Copper Rose Zambia: how she founded it without any funds, raising start-up money with K10 donations from some of her fellow students. She explained how she had to infuse passion into people who were willing to volunteer to support the organisation. They also had to face ridicule from their peers who did not understand their vision, which they did not let stop them. Before long, Copper Rose had grown to an internationally recognised organisation focusing on women and youth empowerment.
Dr Natasha elaborated on how she managed to overcome the obstacles when she zeroed onto some of the ways she works. She explained how she had to lead people, not by an iron fist but by appreciating their work. It is one way to encourage the best out of the people you are leading. “You will need to appreciate the people you lead. Leaders eat last!” she emphasized. Dr Natasha impressed upon us the need to create and maintain meaningful and well-defined networks. “Know who your friend is, and who your acquaintance is.” People need to develop good social skills in order to achieve this. Dr Natasha explained how she sold her brand by attending a lot of fellowships and leadership programmes. She encouraged us to do the same and emphasised the need to read books and practise them. “The truth is that you learn better when you take action.” You won’t always first succeed but you learn from mistakes. Many of the scholars had their own project ideas and hearing from such a driven personality fuelled our drive. Deep gratitude to Dr Natasha Salifyanji Kaoma for dedicating her life to serving others and for taking her time to speak to us. One of the scholars, Thando Lungu said, “She is even more proof that success has no gender orientation.”