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Feb 7, 2017

Workshop update and a special announcement.

Child, Bride, Mother: Nigeria
Child, Bride, Mother: Nigeria

Greetings Too Young To Wed supporters!

Thanks to you and people like you, we have made tremendous progress towards meeting our funding goal. While we still have room to go, we wanted to take moment to thank you all for helping us turn child brides into community leaders. We’d also like to share with you, our most recent multimedia project and how it ties into our Adolescent Girls Photography Workshops.

Last week, Too Young To Wed published Child, Bride, Mother: Nigeria, our newest multimedia piece, created in collaboration with the Ford Foundation and the New York Times Sunday Review.

Three years after 276 schoolgirls in Northern Nigeria were abducted by separatist militants, Boko Haram, the global call-to-action "Bring Back Our Girls" has all but disappeared from social media as the public's interest waned.

But it's now become clear that the Chibok abductions were just one instance of a profoundly disturbing tactic: child marriage used as a weapon of war -- a practice that has lead to the kidnapping of some 25,000 girls in the region.

Our presentation includes photographs and personal statements from formerly kidnapped girls, now returned to an uncertain life in urban Nigeria; and culminates with a short film highlighting one girl's harrowing journey.

And for a deeper look at the issue, don’t miss TYTW founder, Stephanie Sinclair’s interview with National Public Radio.

So, how does this story tie in with our Adolescent Girls Photography Workshops? We are thrilled to announce that we are in the process of planning a workshop for late 2017 with the girls featured in this project.

As you know, your generous donations to this project are helping to fund the planning and implementation of our next workshop in Samburu, Kenya this August. But, did you know that the curriculum we’re developing for Kenya will also be used in Nigeria? Now that’s some bang for your buck.

No matter where our workshop is held, the goal is the same: graduates will have tools to manage their personal trauma and newfound confidence to serve as role models for other girls -- and as leaders, not outcasts, girls can mobilize their communities to end child marriage.

We at Too Young To Wed thank you for your continued support in helping us reach our funding goal, and in turn, reach girls who are more than just a commodity.

Please invite your friends and family to make a donation today.

Thank you,

Stephanie & the Too Young To Wed team  

Photo Caption: Dada, 14, holds her 18-month-old daughter Hussaina at their home, where she lives with her mother. Dada was abducted with her older sister when she was just 10 years old, and forced to wed a Boko Haram insurgent. “We gathered under a tree and married,” Dada told me last November. "I felt like a living ghost,” she said. "I was not afraid to escape, being alive in that camp was already the worst thing that could happen to me.”

Child, Bride, Mother: Nigeria
Child, Bride, Mother: Nigeria
Nov 3, 2016

Former Child Brides Raising Voices- and Cameras

(Photo Caption: Angela, 12, learns about light while taking a photo of Naramat, 12, her partner for the workshop. ‘During this week, I came to realize that education can help us build our family and our future,’ says Naramat. Photograph by Nicole Chan)

Dear Friends,

We'd like to send you a warm note of thanks for your continued and generous support. You are helping us to bring former child brides and at-risk girls together to help them process their trauma, gain confidence, and communicate their stories using the power of photography.

We'd also like to take a moment to share with you an intimate look into this year’s inaugural Adolescent Girls Photography Workshop as told by TYTW's Founder, Stephanie Sinclair:

Duriung TYTW's inaugural Adolescent Girls Photography Workshop in early 2016, I initially steered away from sharing with our young students my photographs of child marriage because I feared it may prove too traumatic for them; that it would hit too close to home based on their experiences. However, at the encouragement of our local partner, I ultimately did. And I'm forever grateful because it opened a door to a dialogue that changed all of our lives.

After the retrospective, I asked the attendees about their familiarity with child marriage. A girl named Angela raised her hand, spurred on by the slideshow and eager to tell me her story. Upon overhearing she was to be married off, she ran away from home. I asked the group if they had experienced a situation like Angela’s. To my dismay, all nine girls raised their hands— each had escaped their marriage.

There are many pieces to the puzzle of ending child marriage, but empowering the individual girl is one of the most important. It removes them from a lifetime of being taught that their lives, feelings, and opinions mean nothing, and resets their relationship to the world. TYTW's workshops are designed to empower girls to discover their individuality, autonomy, and voice. We approach this through the lens (pun intended!) of teaching them basic photography concepts and skills. For many, it's the first time that they feel worthy of being looked at and listened to; and for all, it's the first time they've had a chance to tell their stories to the world. The workshops, in this way, affirm the value of the girls' voices and their stories.

During our first workshop- for the first time ever- every attendee spoke aloud the circumstances under which they'd escaped their arranged marriages. By the time the session ended and the girls paired off for intimate portrait sessions, you could practically reach out and touch the bond this catharsis created among the group. And, naturally, the result was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The portraits that students took of each other on the heels of that meeting were remarkably powerful -- especially for girls who had picked up a camera for the first time only a day before! There’s no doubt that they found photography to be a way to communicate what they’d been through and to communicate with each other.

Later, at the workshop’s final- a public show of the girls’ work, I left it up to the girls to determine the photographs they chose to show and what to say about them. To my surprise, most opted to share their personal stories. All of them talked about what they wanted to be when they were older. And every one of them talked about how they wanted to help the community and prevent girls from going through what they had gone through.

I mean, they got up there, in front of 70 of their elders -- including village chiefs, some of their parents and local police -- and yelled into the microphone, so much that it was cracking: "My name is Jane. I am 12 years old. I have been circumcised, and my parents tried to marry me off." 

By the end, the girls, the staff, the audience -- everyone was in tears. We were all in this moment together, crying. I feel it’s as though we witnessed them taking their power back and expressing all these things that they wanted to say for the first time to the public, to their community. For me it was pure magic; for the workshop: a huge success! Most importantly, for the girls, it was an experience that will never be forgotten. 

I want to thank you for standing with child marriage survivors and supporting TYTW’s Adolescent Girls Photography Workshop- together, we can create a generation of empowered advocates and community leaders in the fight to protect girls’ rights and end child marriage.

This #GivingTuesday, November 29, your gift will be generously matched 50% by a donation from a Global Giving supporter! Consider sharing your support for this initiative or making an end of the year gift!

With gratitude,Anchor House

Stephanie and the TYTW Team

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