Sep 10, 2021

We've Been Doing This Work for 7 YEARS!!!

Girls Council Members
Girls Council Members

It has been a journey, and just next month we are coming up to seven (7) years of existence as an organisation that has been serving girls, designing programmes for their needs and empowering them to thrive beyond their circumstances.

We feel like we've come full circle in our efforts, as we have even more girls who now work on our operations team, following being mentees, and we are super proud of them.

For us though, our work is now getting started.  The next seven (7) years is the next chapter of our journey, where we aim to tackle:

  1. Strengthening our food security because hunger and lack of nutrition has a major impact on educational development;
  2. Strengthening our mental wellness and health support because your body and spirit can't function effectly without your mind;
  3. Expanding our safe-space services to include Emergency Housing for our mentees, because we want to ensure that if they ever run-away, are displaced, or homeless that there is somewhere where they can go;
  4. Increasing the Educational Capacity Building provided, from supplies, to books, to afterschool tutoring, to even aiding with coverage of tools needed to function, in a COVID-19 environment that demands online learning; and,
  5. Increasing our thematic offering for training to include Leadership and Personality Assessments, Financial Literacy, Digital Management, and Investment Planning because this next phase of our Strategic Plan is to advance our girls' mindset in being entrepreneurially minded, emotionally aware, forward-thinking, financial power-houses and personally sound leaders.

Until then, we want to ensure we share, what we have been up to in the past quarter or so, and how your funding has played a major role in our direct impact to the girls:

  1. Assisted in our continued support of 50 girls for food security through our monthly voucher drive, which provides girls with the nutrients they need for self-sustained growth and educational focus, hot meals on a more consistent basis and hygiene and feminine supplies, required for a well-balanced lifestyle, while simultaneously being empowered to cater for needs and wants in a self-sufficient manner.
  2. We were able to provide added support to 15 girls’ mental wellness and health through direct one-on-one engagement with a trained counsellor.  Having someone to consistently engage with, outside of the home or school environment, that they trust and feel comfortable with, aids with the safe-space development we create. This particularly benefited girls facing increased poverty, loneliness, and abuse, due to COVID-19, and it ensured that girls could have an outlet to express themselves, while also getting the cognitive behavioural shifts that are needed to thrive.
  3. We have been able to contribute to the educational development of 25 girls through supplies that would aid directly with their school assignment, online school regime and enhancement of computer skills.
  4. Due to COVID-19 and the impact on our programming, different measures had to be introduced to facilitate all the protocols required to safely engage the girls.  Some of these included continuing our contactless system of delivering programming tools to ensure that even in online sessions the girls still had everything they needed, snail mail postage to ensure that girls received vouchers to sustain their needs monthly, and pop-up drives that allowed for girls to still gain access to key educational supplies.
  5. In addition to supporting girls’ development through internal training and job placements, this funding has also allowed us to support girls who have been impacted, due to our hurricane season, as well.  In one instant, we had to provide a portable 3-burner Stove Top, when their stove and oven was excessively damaged, and provide kitchen utensils which washed away during Hurricane Elsa.

We can't thank you enough for all your support, and also some who have left us messages of hope and encouragement have really been amazing, thank you!

Links:

May 24, 2021

Poverty Rising: Our Girls Need Your Support

Our Increased Focus:

We have been focused on poverty and gender inequalities, which is perpetuating violence, abuse and neglect throughout Barbados and the wider Caribbean, and has been resulting in an increase with, e.g., self harm, teen pregnancy and crime.

Globally, 1 in 3 girls and women experience some form of violence within their lifetime. Locally and regionally, there’s an increase due to the pandemic.

 According to an April 2021 Central Bank of Barbados report, more than 1 in every 10 persons in our active labour force is unemployed, with our current unemployment rate at 13.6%, primarily being single mother households.

According to UNICEF, 70% of children are living in poverty in Barbados vs. 1 in 3 in the region.  This is why we are doing the much necessary work that is required, not just as one off donations and gifts, but on-going support.

 

What Have We Done?

This quarter we have contributed directly to the homes of more than 50 girls, who have little to no income due to unemployment and/or inconsistent job placements, through the following means:

  1. monthly food and grocery allowances
  2. monthly hygiene care products
  3. educational supplies and equipment (as needed) 
  4. mental wellness support in the form of one-on-one couselling for girls
  5. one-off care packages for girls with immediate and specific needs

Our contributions have well exceeded $50,000.00 USD, for which some of your funds were instrumental, with a special mention to our recurring donors, and we are hoping to do much more, shifting this small start to huge impact.

 

How Have We Been Learning?

We always ensure that we listen to our beneficiaries and work with them in developing out programming that they not only enjoy but grow from, because it is important for us to not only work for girls but with them.

As such we have three (3) ways to stay informed on a continual basis:

  1. On-going Needs Assessment on a Quarterly Basis to ensure we keep capturing the ever changing shifts that occur in the girls' lives;
  2. In-programming observation and data-capturing M&E quantitative and qualitative techniques built in to programme, that are managed by both peer leaders and trained volunteers on a weekly basis; and,
  3. Our periodic anonymous surveys that girls' share candidly about their views, experiences and feelings.

 

What Are Our Plans Next?

We want to expand our services to ensure that our girls always feel like they are supported, safe and surrounded by the right community, and as such our services are expanding to provide emergency housing for our beneficiaries.

We know some of our girls often struggle, may experience being displaced and/or have either thought of running away or have in the past, and we want to ensure they always have a safe space they know they can come to should anything arise.

Additionally, we will continue with our food and hygiene bank, monthly grocery allowance, and other support services, so girls do not have to worry about anything other than being a girl.

 

How Can You Continue to Help?

  1. Become a recurring donor (if you have not already).
  2. Contribute once again to our cause.
  3. Share our project with your friends, family and colleagues.
  4. Be kind, speak positivity to girls and/or amplify the voices of girls whenever you can.
  5. Join our mailing list via our website to keep updated on our work.

Links:

Feb 3, 2021

With Increased Needs Comes Expansive Impact

Volunteers We Honour
Volunteers We Honour

Where We Are At Today?

COVID-19 has added tremendous strain on our girls, their families and their communities.

More than 90% of our beneficiaries are single parent homes, primarily ran by their mothers solely.

More than 70% of those beneficiaries have one or more siblings, and their mothers are the sole earners within the household.

As a result of COVID-19 and the unsecure nature of many jobs and employment opportunities on the island, more than 70% of all beneficiaries have been directly impacted; i.e. their mother or main providers within the household have either lost their jobs completely or have had to sacrifice more than 50% of their hours of work, and as such have a signficant reduction in resources afforded to the households.

As a result of COVID-19 more than 60% of our beneficiaries have communicated their need for mental health support, as a result of depression, stress, suicidal thoughts and heightened anxiety. The unsure nature of everything happening, along with the inability to be connected to others through in person engagement or physical touch, has created a negative impact on their lives.

As a result of COVID-19 we had more than a 50% increase in the number of reports coming in for physical and sexual violence and abuse being inflicted on our girls, espcially during curfew and lock down periods, and in many cases self harm being one of the main coping mechanisms they have used.

There are so many issues being amplified, over the past year and most recently in the past six months, and we continue to pool our resources together to increase the supply on demand for food, hygiene products and counselling, in the first instance.

Additionally, with the requirement for students to still engage meaningfully within the educational system, although everything is occuring remotely, and in most cases the girls are unable to keep up, for many reasons; i.e. no devises, no internet, no electricity, no safe spaces, no support, we keep pushing to fill those gaps where resources afford us to. 

 

Where We Are Headed Tomorrow?

I Am A Girl continues to be reminded each day, that in order to build up our girls to lead tomorrow, we must start by engaging them in their challenges today, while also encouraging them to be their sisters' keeper.

Tomorrow's mission is coupled with today's challenges, in ensuring that our girls are whole; i.e. a sound state of mind, the ability to learn without barriers, and the nurishment to keep them thriving, among many other elements.

As such, we are currently building out a food and hygiene bank, where girls will have access to for their immediate personal needs.

We also believe that none of our work should be done for them, without them, and as such we are in the process of launching a Peer to Peer COVID-19 Assessment, that ensures we capture the essential and urgent needs of each girl.  This guarantees that any solutions developed in collaboration with the girls, takes in to account everything necessary for them to thrive, through their lens.

Post-COVID-19 we have already started building out a Safe Space that will be the home for emergency housing and shelter, recreational development and a leadership academy that aims in our girls pushing the boundaries for their own growth, with our support.

 

How You Can Help Right Now?

You are the backbone of our work, and without your contributions, we could not do half of what we do.  All we ask of you, if you can, is to:

  1. Share with your friends, family, colleagues and peers about your reasons for contributing to our work, so they also have an opportunity to contribute to the girls' development;
  2. Check out our website, subscribe to our mailing list, and keep abreast of all the developments occuring, while also having an opportunity to be involved in different ways that your skillset, abilities and passions may allow; and,
  3. Become a recurring partner, in contributing to the girls' development on a monthly basis.

 

We appreciate you and look forward to checking back in with you in the next quarter to share further updates, stories and lessons learnt. 

Links:

 
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