Since our last update, KOFAVIV has been busy with their Saturday workshops for young girls. The sessions continue to have success in building the girls’ confidence and self-esteem as well as teaching them important income-generating skills, such as jewelry-making and hairdressing. I wanted to share some photos and highlights from the last few months of the program. I hope you enjoy!
Photo 1) KOFAVIV recently organized a beach retreat for the young girls participating in their weekly workshops. The beach retreat was used to both celebrate the girls’ successes as well as to give them reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. The girls were able to have fun and relax with their peers and their mentors. This photo shows the workshop participants and their mentors on the way to the beach.
Photo 2) KOFAVIV has added cooking classes to the Saturday workshops, giving the girls a new skill that can later be applied to an income-generating activity. This photo shows a KOFAVIV coordinator and mentor teaching the young girls how to prepare a meat dish.
Photo 3) The girls’ jewelry-making skills are improving! At the beginning of May, KOFAVIV held a local artisan fair at the KOFAVIV Center, inviting members of the public to purchase products made by the girls. Among the products being sold at the fair were the necklaces and bracelets made by these young women! This photo shows the beaded jewelry made by the girls, on display at the fair.
Photo 4) This photo shows young girls posing with their crafts!
In our last update, we shared with you that KOFAVIV launched Saturday workshops for young teenage girls at risk of sexual exploitation. MADRE Program Coordinator Sahita Pierre-Antoine was recently in Haiti visiting our sisters at KOFAVIV. She brought back this update from the Saturday workshops that we’d like to share with you now:
The Saturday workshops organized for young girls engaging in sexual exchange are still underway at the KOFAVIV Center. Currently, forty girls participate in the weekly meetings. The sessions have been very successful in building the girls' self-esteem and teaching them skills that can later be applied to income-generating activities such as arts and crafts, fabric printing and dying, jewelry making and hair dressing. While I was speaking with KOFAVIV about the sessions, they shared this success story with me:
"Minou", a 16-year-old girl, was regularly exchanging sexual favors in order to provide for herself. She was brought to the KOFAVIV Center by one of the organization's community agents and was enrolled in the Saturday program shortly after. Six months into her participation, Minou's behavior had changed: she began opening up with her peers and therapist about her past experiences and started to adopt a more positive outlook on life since entering the program. Minou was so invested in the Workshop that she became a KOFAVIV outreach worker. She has since been actively working with other young beneficiaries, using her personal experience to engage and motivate her peers.
Last month, MADRE Program Coordinator Sahita Pierre-Antoine was in Haiti, visiting our sisters at KOFAVIV. She spoke with Malya Villard-Appolon, co-founder of KOFAVIV, about the Shoes for Haitian Girls project. We’d like to share those updates with you now:
KOFAVIV’s latest shoe distribution coincided with KOFAVIV’s launch of their Saturday workshops for young teenage girls at risk of sexual exploitation. While speaking with the girls participating in the session, KOFAVIV staff noticed that many of their sandals were completely worn out from the long distances that they walked each day. KOFAVIV donated new shoes and sneakers to the participants so that they could walk comfortably and safely to and from the KOFAVIV Center.
The girls who participate in the Saturday workshops do not live with their families. They have been left to fend for themselves, and many are struggling to do so. Most—if not all—of the girls have turned to transactional sex (exchanging sex for basics such as a meal, shelter, or daily supplies) to provide for themselves, and sometimes for their children. Most of these girls are under 21 years of age and have left school before reaching high school. Many want to go back to school to learn and to help secure a better future, but socio-economic circumstances prevent them from doing so. KOFAVIV offers them a place of solace where they can participate in various arts and crafts activities as well as group therapy sessions. They can talk openly to KOFAVIV counselors and peer mentors about their troubles. They are also able to meet other young girls their age who are facing the same issues. They learn skills such as hair dressing, jewelry making, t-shirt printing and other income-generating skills, and receive a hot meal and a snack for the day. One of the main objectives of these Saturday sessions is for KOFAVIV to reassure these young girls that they have not been forgotten and that they should not give up hope.
MADRE staff member Diana Duarte shares a fond memory from her visit to KOFAVIV.
Last summer, I traveled with MADRE staff to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We brought with us donations of shoes for our sister organization KOFAVIV, who distribute them to young girls living in the tent cities. My trip was filled with inspiring moments, but one in particular stands out—and it was captured in a photo.
More than two years after the earthquake, people still struggle to survive in the displacement camps. But our partners at KOFAVIV have created a safe space to help rebuild their lives and communities: a Women’s Center. Women and girls know that when they need medical help, counseling, or legal services, the activists at the Women’s Center will accompany them. They know that if they just need to lean on someone, they can turn to KOFAVIV.
But first, they need to be able to get there. We learned that a lack of shoes was preventing girls, many of whom were orphaned by the quake, from walking the distance to the Women’s Center. So when we went to visit KOFAVIV, we brought shoes.
Our sisters at KOFAVIV gathered hundreds of people, young girls and their communities, into the Women’s Center for the shoe distribution. Andre Lambertson, an amazing photojournalist and filmmaker, was with us that day to document the event. And there were plenty of beautiful moments to capture. It could have been a chaotic scene, but it wasn’t. The women of KOFAVIV organized the distribution flawlessly. What’s more, they turned it into a celebration. There was music and dancing, and clusters of young girls laughing and making friends.
I was in a courtyard, using my rusty French to talk to a bunch of girls. None of them seemed older than 13. They told me about their lives and their families, and they asked about mine. One girl asked my age, and then joked, “You’re old.” We laughed, and I thought, ‘Reminds me of my younger sisters, who love to poke fun at me, the oldest.’ I was snapping photos, and the girls all wanted to pose with their best friends, grinning cheesily at the camera.
But one girl seemed shy and was standing off to one side. I asked her what her name was, and she said, “Diana.” And then we had this moment that Andre captured.
I stayed with those girls for a few more hours before we had to leave. They reminded me of myself at their age, of my younger sisters, and of my friends. Like so many survivors of the earthquake, they have been through so much. I’m glad and grateful every day that KOFAVIV is there for them.
In March, KOFAVIV, MADRE’s local sister organization in Haiti, received more than 5,000 pairs of shoes through donations collected from Soles4Souls. KOFAVIV has started distributing shoes to women and their families who live in the displacement camps and impoverished neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince.
The women and families who received the shoes are members of the KOFAVIV network or have been identified by the KOFAVIV outreach workers. The new shoes will allow them to safely walk the long distances between their home, school and workplace, and go about their daily activities.
What’s more, women and girls who live in the tent cities will now be able to walk to the KOFAVIV Women’s Center, where they can receive food, counseling and other vital care.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.