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“ Empowering women and girls and promoting gender equality is crucial to accelerating sustainable development. Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, but it also has a multiplier effect across all other development areas”. UN

Women have been and continue to be underrepresented in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) field . According to the UN, globally the percentage of female among STEM graduates is below 15% in over two thirds of countries.As an organisation we have crafted innovative programmes and initiatives that are aimed at unlocking the opportunities that the STEM field with a focus on aviation and space technology industry offers for young girls in Africa. One of our programme is the  Girl’s Aviation and Space Technology  (GAST) Camp which is designed to engage, empower and inspire the next generation of makers and problem solvers in the aviation and space industry. We were elated to host our last GAST Camp for the year with learners from the North West province, KwaZulu Natal, and Free State. The camp entailed educational and exciting programmes, introductions to careers in aviation, space technology and STEM in general, hands-on activities using the application of STEM, and having fun with like-minded friends !!!


Our Girl campers were grouped into teams led by mentors. They worked in their teams for the duration of the camp. All activities planned for the camp were designed to inspire the girls to pursue STEM careers, to instil teamwork and leadership skills, as well as learning how to innovate for their communities with limited resources.Their first task as a team was  the Spaghetti Marshmallow Challenge which is an activity for beginners in design thinking to practice prototyping in testing. The activity gives  students an opportunity to experience what it is like to build together.


Coach Mike from the Ichikowitz Family Foundation kick started a 3-day robotics and drone technology programme on the first day. In teams, the learners were introduced to coding and programming. They learnt how to code and programme robots to carry out different missions. This was one of the most stimulating challenged the teams had to compete for. With assistance from our volunteer drone pilots, the learners were taught the basics of drone flying. The organisation would like to express its gratitude to Coach Mike for volunteering his time and expertise towards reshaping our campers’ minds !!


The camp was also held during space week. The World Space Week 2022 theme is “Space and Sustainability” focusing on achieving sustainability in space and achieving sustainability from space. The theme is inspired by how sustainability in space relates to how humanity uses space, most pressingly, the orbital area surrounding Earth. To celebrate space week ,we were  honoured to have the South African national Space agency (SANSA) run a 2-day programme that entailed educating the learners about different careers in the space industry.This programme exposed the young ladies to the exceptional work done at SANSA and helped them understand the application of STEM in space technology through team activities. The potential of space in supporting the sustainable development goals (SDG’S) is wide. " Space-based services and technologies are key in understanding climate change and during the full disaster management cycle , two examples among countless applications to which space can contribute to the SDG’s " UN. One of the activity  they looked at how space can be used  during or after disaster using the Jagersfontein case study to analyse differences between two satellite imagery at different times. This activity helped the campers  understand how to analyse and  extract satellite data for various purposes. Through the space trivia, they learned more about space.


As an organisation that stands for diversity, hosting a cultural evening for our campers was a privilege. The girls dressed in their cultural attires and spent the evening learning and celebrating each other’s different cultures.


The GFPA Foundation was glad to execute the aviation programme for the learners. It is  always heart-warming opening minds up to how broad the aviation industry is. Ms Refilwe Ledwaba exposed the learners to the different career opportunities in aviation. And, through storytelling, inspired the girls to look beyond their circumstances when in the pursuit of their dreams. Ms Lebohang Mokoallo taught the girls about drone technology and its various applications. After having flown the Tello drones, our campers were astonished to learn about the uses of drones in different industries.

Learners were introduced to design thinking at the beginning of the camp. As part of the activity, the teams had to identify problems within their communities, structure a problem statement, explore root causes and effects, then come up with an innovative solution. This tested each team’s ability to communicate, plan, strategize, empathise, and their abilities to use time effectively and creatively. For encouragement, we had a movie night for the girls. We watched “Hidden Figures” and had popcorn. After seeing the challenges the women in the movie overcame, the teams were ready to refine and improve their solutions to the innovation challenge.


The last night of the camp was the most rewarding. We held a gala dinner to celebrate the progress the learners made since the first day. We wrapped the innovation challenge up with the learners presenting their solutions to the problems they had identified in their communities. The team with the most innovative solution won the innovative challenge. We also awarded the team that collected the most points from all the other challenges throughout the camp. And we acknowledged individual campers that demonstrated the growth since the first day. We ended the gala dinner with handing prizes to all the girls to celebrate them. As an organisation we celebrated GFPA being officially registered for 5 years, and we danced to good music!

Reshaping minds is one of our foundation’s greatest missions. The GAST Camp allowed us to empower girls also the opportunity to spend time instilling values such as volunteerism, teamwork, and leadership in young minds. And it was an honour fulfilling this purpose with this camp. Thank you to everyone that helped make the camp possible. We hope to continue working together in impacting lives, one girl at a time !!!


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