Meet The Support Team
We are a group of visionaries, educators, and individuals committed to providing emotional and financial assistance in order to address some of the gender and education issues facing young women in Zambia. Take a moment to learn about the people who are involved in our organization.
Ceciliah Lesho: Director of Outreach and Advocacy
Ceciliah is a young Zambian woman aged 23, the seventh born in the family of eight. Ceciliah was first trained as a Reproductive Health Facilitator through Training-of-Trainers Workshop with US Peace Corps in 2011. Ceciliah also participated in a Paralegal Works and Ethics Training of Trainer’s Workshop facilitated by the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED). Ceciliah has a close connection with the CAMFED program as they sponsored her education from grade 11 through college. Ceciliah recently completed her Certificate in Business: Secretarial and Office Management at Lukashya Trades Training Institute in Kasama.
Ceciliah has been working with Bakashana since 2013. As a beneficiary of CAMFED, Ceciliah understands first-hand the importance of promoting girl-child education not only in Zambia but the world. Ceciliah has dreams of going to University and is enjoying her time working with Bakashana to further her skills while teaching the young women in the program.
Ceciliah has a message for the girls of the world: “I want all the girls out there to know that, it’s never too late! As they say, ‘every great improvement comes after repeated failure’. Though you may have failed to achieve something you want, you can still make it, provided you let go of your past failures and work hard to get there!”
Claire Albrecht: Executive Director, Co-Founder
Claire has over seven years experience working with women’s development programs in and around Kasama. Her proficiency in the local language iciBemba and her interest in collaborating with and better understanding the Bemba culture of Northern Zambia have allowed her -in cooperation with Zambian colleagues- to develop a program which is effective in part because of its cultural focus. Claire’s love for Bemba music, food, togetherness, and her admiration of-and-respect-for women in Zambia have motivated her to make Kasama her home. Claire’s academic interest in Gender and Development began during her studies at the University of the West Indies in 2005. In 2012, she received an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. Claire has worked with educational programs focusing on cultivating cultural pride in a myriad of settings including Kingston, Jamaica; Hawaii, USA; Medellin, Colombia; and Kasama, Zambia
Nelly Nakapizye, Computer Trainer
Nelly Nakapizye is the third born in a family of six. She is a Zambian citizen aged 19 years. She completed her secondary school education in 2015,and is currently saving for future studies while working with Bakashana. She appreciates working with bakashana team and helping them with their goals in educating young women. It is an opportunity for her to be a role model for them, and her aim is to make sure every lady will never feel low about herself and always be confident, because they can do the impossible. She provides great computer lessons, and her favorite saying is NEVER GIVE UP. She seeks and is willing to help with anything to educate the young women at Bakashana.
Kaonga Barbara: Social Coordinator
Barbara is a self-determined young woman age 23 who lives in Kasama, Northern Zambia. She is the sixth born in a family of eight. Barbara is studying to be a nurse and is a life-long learner, believing that “education is the key to success.” Barbara’s interest in the field of health brought her to work with Bakashana. Barbara is a social butterfly with the gift of interacting with people from different backgrounds and making all those with whom she comes into contact feel at ease.
Barbara brings a lot to Bakashana and acts as a crucial ally for the young women of the program. In her youth, Barbara’s parents struggled to pay her school fees and she found herself supported by a brother-in-law, who wasn’t always able to pay the fees on time. These challenges held Barabara back in school. She wishes to take the lessons that she’s learned and the strength that she has gained through adverse situations and help the young women of Bakashana re-empower their lives.
Christine Chileshe: Academic Advisor and Mentor
Christine Chileshe was one of the inspirations for the founding of Bakashana in late 2009. Christine worked tirelessly to pass her grade 9 exams, and succeeded in 2010 when she was selected to attend secondary school at Kasama Girls Secondary School. With the financial and emotional support of Bakashana, Christine excelled in Secondary school. She relished the opportunity, and for the first time in her life, 15-year-old Christine was relieved of the heavy workload that she had faced in her Uncle’s home. Christine graduated from grade 12 with high marks. In 2014, Christine was given the opportunity to return to Kasama. Through her return, her experience with Bakashana has come full circle: Christine is now facilitating exam prep sessions with grade 9 girls from Bakashana programs twice a week. She has found through this work that she has a passion for teaching and sharing, and wishes to impact young women’s lives in positive ways, just as hers was impacted through the help of Bakashana.
Justin Hostetter: Administrative Officer
Justin worked as an aquaculture consultant and business advisor with the Peace Corps and Zambian Department of Fisheries for two years. During this time he worked with many cooperatives and women’s groups, and while living in the community of Chibo in Kasama district he cultivated strong ties with the Bemba people and their culture. He holds an MA in Environment and Resource Management from the Vrije University in Amsterdam and a BSBA in Business and Finance from the University of Denver. He is proud to call Kasama his home, and is enjoying the challenge of constructing his home using traditional building techniques and materials. He is also writing a blog about the experiences of living in Kasama, and the lessons offered by the Bemba people, called Love n Light Lukupa .
Diane Ihebom recently graduated from Syracuse University with a BS in Biochemistry. Diane plans on attending medical school to become an OB/GYN. Her passion is in women’s health, especially as it relates to global health care. Diane’s long term goal is to work for Doctors Without Borders and provide free medical services to women in the non-industrial world. Diane is excited to be part of the support team, and as someone who comes from two oppressed groups (being a woman and Nigerian-American), she understands how crucial education is in helping to break down certain social barriers.
Lorie Lopez is a graduate of University of California, San Diego with a BA degree in Anthropology, completed in 2011. She has spent the last 7 years working and volunteering in the non-profit sector. Lorie looks forward to using her passion for writing and research to find sustainable funding sources to support the work of Bakashana.