As a passionate supporter of women’s empowerment and financial education, Laura Zaccaria was moved by Aidha’s mission and recognised that she could use her skills to support our programmes. Laura has been a volunteer mentor since 2015 after finding out about Aidha through her friend Prerana, who is also a seasoned Aidha volunteer. At the time, Laura was at a point in her life where she was trying to find something meaningful to spend her time on and channel her energy and volunteering with Aidha was just the right fit!
Since then, Laura has been running computer workshops, and mentoring students in Communication and Confidence and Leadership, as well as mentoring some of our short courses. In addition, she has run team-building workshops for the campus team and the Business Simulation Game for Aidha Module 3 students. She is an active fundraiser and a Volunteer Ambassador.
Laura loves that she can see the impact she has when she spends time with the students and that she can monitor their progress as they move through Aidha’s programmes. She sees studying with Aidha as providing students with a lift into the start of a “virtuous circle”. They may be small steps at first, but over time they can have a really big impact. By saving a little bit more money every month, over time the compound effect is tremendous – for the women, their families and their communities – helping them to break the cycle of poverty.
Laura is also amazed and gratified when she sees her students being able to articulate their thoughts confidently, having started so shyly in her classes. She appreciates these little but important things marking their amazing progress – steps that mentors like herself are able to witness. Seeing them completing their courses at the graduation ceremony, beaming with pride, is the cherry on the cake.
To keep the students’ education on track through the COVID pandemic, Laura has been helping Aidha to run special online sessions, including classes on stress management and on building resilience. She has been impressed by the students’ adaptation to online learning. It has been heartwarming to see the great support given to many students by their employers, some of whom have provided access to laptops and a quiet place to sit during the online sessions but, as Laura says, it is also fantastic what students can do with just a phone!