We Love Girls' Club!
“We love Girls’ Club!” shouted an excited group of eighth graders at Mayville Secondary last week.
The Umkhumbane Schools Project was celebrating a special kind of graduation ceremony. This memorable day required no caps or gowns but included the awarding of certificates, a delectable lunch, and lots of big smiles. This was the final session of the USP’s Girls’ Club curriculum for 2023, a 10-week program of learning and affirmation that we offer to all Grade 8 girls at both Mayville and Bonela Secondary Schools. One hundred girls received certificates of program participation at last week’s ceremonies.
Girls' Clubs meet at break time during the school day under the direction of the USP’s wonderful social worker, Ms. Phume Phewa. Topics for learning and discussion include self-esteem, body image, peer pressure, substance abuse, healthy nutrition, healthy relationships, study habits, goal-settting, career aims, and what to do in the face of gender-based violence or other forms of abuse. The aim is to give girls a safe space in which to talk and learn skills for navigating personal and societal challenges at the start of their high school years, thereby helping them chart a safe and successful path through high school and into a bright adulthood.
Girls’ Clubs are one of several girl-focused programs that The Umkhumbane Schools Project is able to provide at our partner schools, thanks to the generosity of our GlobalGiving donors. Another is our Big Sister/Little Sister program, set to launch this coming July, which pairs the girls who have completed the Girls’ Club curriculum with Big Sister mentors from a higher grade. We will also be offering special STEM career guidance workshops for girls later in the school year. And for several years we have supported two alumnae of USP programs with free room and board in our Safe House, a rented housing space for young women aged 18-25 who are pursuing higher education and who are either orphaned or lacking in family support.
Sadly, the USP is also meeting a significant need for our girls by providing counseling for survivors of rape. Girls in Grades 8-12 who disclose an experience of sexual assault to Ms. Phewa are offered free counseling sessions, thanks to our invaluable partnership with the Jess Foord Foundation. Members of our staff transport small groups of girls to their Jess Foord counseling appointments on a weekday afternoon twice a month. So far this year, we have provided 23 individual counseling sessions. It is wonderful to see the positive impact that these sessions have on the girls’ well-being.
Thanks to your generosity as a GlobalGiving donor, the year so far has been rich with programs such as these, assisting in the learning and growth of young people – both girls and boys -- in the Cato Manor/Umkhumbane community. We are continually grateful to you for making this work possible.
While we treasure all of our learners, with this particular report we say “Let’s hear it for the girls!” We applaud their determination and resilience. We lift up their intelligence, creativity, and optimism. We support their dreams and we are blessed with the joy that they bring to those around them. USP girls, you rock!
And let’s hear it for you, and for all of our GlobalGiving donors! From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you!