KASA: The Mission is Great

I believe that one of the most powerful abilities of mankind is that of dreaming, followed by the curiosity to make those dreams come true. From time immemorial, dreaming has been part of human life. Great men and women famous for shaping humanity through science, art, spirituality and technology are known to be dreamers and doers. 

As a young boy, Albert Einstein dreamed of the theory of relativity.

Thomas Edison credits his discovery of electricity to his dreams.

William Herschel discovered planet Uranus in his dreams.

Beethoven heard musical compositions in his dreams.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream of an equal America, one in which both the white and black people are treated equally.

Every day, kids and young people dream of utopian worlds. After watching Star Trek, some dream of living on other planets; perhaps a terraformed Mars. Some, after watching rocket launches, want to go to the moon or to the International Space Station.

Other people, mostly youth, want to live in societies with better governance systems; for example, a government with direct democracy as opposed to the common representative democracy. Or a society with better financial institutions; maybe crypto-powered economies. Or a society where religious sects coexist peacefully.

Some people, like me, often dream of a world where everyone has access to affordable internet, lives in futuristic buildings powered by clean energy, and eats healthy food.

The good thing about dreams is that they know no borders. A kid living in western Kenya can have the same dream as a kid living in the US.

I’m a strong believer in dreaming. I’m inspired by great dreamers and doers. Just like the people I look up to, I’ve always wanted to be remembered as someone who contributed to the betterment of humankind. What a better way than to join a project that aims to inspire kids and youth to dream while equipping them with the knowledge and skills to make those dreams a reality!

I’m a senior project coordinator for Kibera Aeronautics & Space Academy (KASA), a Kibera-based project, under Tunapanda Institute, that educates young learners on scientific and technological knowledge using space exploration as an inspiration. KASA empowers and encourages the younger generation to boldly dream while providing space, knowledge, and tools to assist the dreamers turn their dreams to reality.

Since the project’s inception in 2018, the project has had some notable successes. Some of them include:

  • Co-hosting Yuri’s Night, an international celebration named after Yuri Gagarin to commemorate milestones in space exploration.
  • Conducting 2, 1-week bootcamp training sessions for kids aged between 7 – 13 years. During the bootcamp, the kids learn computer basics, drawing, robotics, computer programming, and space science.
  • Taking 16 young learners to The Nairobi Planetarium to evoke their curiosity and unlock their minds to re-imagine the possibilities of science and technology..
  • Hosting monthly talks dubbed ‘KASA Junto’ to engage the society in discussing matters of science and technology, role of science in development, education systems, mental health, economic models, among other topics. Kenya Space Agency’s head of research, education, and outreach, Charles Mwangi, attended 2021 October’s KASA Junto session as a keynote speaker.
Jay Larson (Tunapanda Institute’s co-founder) and I in Naivasha during a team building activity in November 2018. KASA was born during this session.

In 2022, I’ve renewed my commitment to KASA. To be part of a team that aims to inspire kids and young people to dream big and actualize their dreams. I want to be remembered as someone who helped lead a project that inspired kids and youth from informal settlements to dream big; to travel to Mars or the moon or to build breakthrough technologies.

In the grand scheme of things, KASA aspires to train the future generation who will be among Mars’ first 1 million inhabitants. Our nine micro-courses were selected and are being developed with that goal in mind. The courses can also be applied here on Earth to tackle technological, scientific, and governance challenges. 

Eight of KASA’s nine micro-courses. The ninth one is STEM.

In addition, we are looking forward to replicating the project to other low-income communities and informal settlements in the future.

I’m happy to be on this journey together with skilled and dedicated team members such as Adrian Schmidt (Master of Science in Physics graduate at Leibniz University Hanover) and Neville Omangi (Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at University of Nairobi).

By Melkizedek Mirasi

Lifelong learner.

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