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Build a girl leader in Myanmar

by Girl Determined
Build a girl leader in Myanmar
Build a girl leader in Myanmar
Build a girl leader in Myanmar
Build a girl leader in Myanmar
Build a girl leader in Myanmar
Build a girl leader in Myanmar
Build a girl leader in Myanmar
Build a girl leader in Myanmar
Build a girl leader in Myanmar
Build a girl leader in Myanmar
Photo by Charlotte O'Sullivan
Photo by Charlotte O'Sullivan

Dear friends and supporters,

Here in Myanmar we are in the midst of a very wet rainy season.  Despite the life-bringing necessity of rain, particularly to the rice paddies around the country, it can be difficult to get around, and for me, sometimes a bit dreary. 

Just before the rains set in, the school year started here ushering in a new group of girl participants in the weekly Colorful Girls programs.  And, well, again, the total number of girls eager to participate in weekly leadership programs surpassed our expectations.  3,000 girls enrolled! 

Incredible energy.  Also a few challenges.

Our Girl Determined team is thrilled to bring adolescent girls the opportunity to see new possibilities, and to increase their confidence and decision-making skills so they can take hold of the reins and steer their own lives.  These girls live in 75 communities in far-reaching parts of the country.  We work hard to manage communications and logistics.  Most of the project staff in communities do not have access to computers, so we rely on hardcopy attendance reports and community updates to be transported by bus from the communities to our office.  Sometimes phone service does not work, and when it does, it can be difficult to communicate effectively across the country with different languages, work experience and backgrounds.  The women and older girls who lead projects in their communities, in some areas, have to repeatedly answer the concerns of local religious or government leaders who worry that the girls are “getting TOO empowered,” or are “starting to think they are as smart as the boys.”  But, they press on.

And, this year, they need to know that all the girls in their communities will get to complete the entire two-year program.  That is where you all come in.  Please join us by supporting a girl, or twenty, to get the most out of Girl Determined’s project.  Your support now will ensure that we can fund all newly enrolled girls through the end of the program.  Incredible.

Please help to lighten the load of the women in the community who really do the heavy lifting, by letting them know ALL the girls in their neighborhood can have the chance to  grow in confidence, vision and skills.

Thank you for your continued generosity and support, and pease stay tuned to our social media pages to follow the latest happenings.

#JustStepsForward

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Returned alumni leading a camp panel discussion
Returned alumni leading a camp panel discussion

Dear friends and supporters,

Just because school is out and the weather is hot, doesn’t mean that we at Girl Determined haven’t been busy.  In fact, our dedicated coordinators, facilitators, and coaches have had their hands full in recent months with summer camps and community-based events, directly engaging over 500 girls and young women.

We have completed three summer camps, each focused on a different critical aspects of general programming - peacebuilding, girls public leadership, and volleyball as a tool to develop strong girl leaders.   Summer camp has proven lifelong benefits for children and young people everywhere, and for the girls in our Colorful Girls program across Myanmar attending one of our camps is a highly sought-after opportunity.  Interested girls undertake a rigorous application process and are invited to attend based on their interest in public leadership, issues of peace and conflict and social change, combined with their active, regular attendance in weekly Colorful Girls sessions in their communities.  All of your support continues to make these incredible camps possible.

This year the introductory-level Peacebuilding Camp welcomes girls who have completed their first full year of Colorful Girls sessions.  It took place in late March and was held at a rural facility, with over 100 girls from six geographic regions of the country in attendance.  The intermediate-level Girls Leadership Camp was held at the end of April with about 35 girls who had completed the full two-year program.  This camp featured a special panel discussion on the challenges faced by girl leaders, monitored by several returned program alumni.

One camp participant, Ma Yadana, age 14, reported, “I discovered here at camp that peace is not something that is far away, but rather it is inside of us and starts with each one of us as individuals.  When I get knocked down, I feel angry, but I will find it in myself to explain my feelings and also feel compassion with the others.  Peacemakers must sacrifice and not be selfish, as we heard in the sayings from Gandhi. The source of conflict is discrimination and unless we end discrimination, we will never gain a peaceful and developed society.

Less than a week ago, we wrapped up our first Leadership and Volleyball Coaching Camp in the temperate hills of Shan State, followed by a ‘Strong Girls in Myanmar’ public event in downtown Yangon promoting girls in sports.  Both were led by a dynamic team of representatives from Girl Determined and visiting project partners Women Win and Volleyball Australia, comprising almost two full weeks of learning and sharing.  This opportunity to exchange knowledge, skills, and cultures will be a memorable experience for all the young women involved, and we are excited to see how our newly trained girls and coaches take the experiences back to their communities to share, play, and grow.

Thank you for your continued generosity and support, and pease stay tuned to our social media pages to follow the latest happenings.

#JustStepsForward #StrongGirlsinMyanmar #GirlDetermined

Leadership & Volleyball Coaching Camp
Leadership & Volleyball Coaching Camp
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Colorful girls learn assertive communication
Colorful girls learn assertive communication

Dear friends and supporters,

2017 is upon us, and thankfully our world is still intact.  Although it may have been a somewhat rocky beginning in certain aspects, progress and a demand for justice are still in the air.  We at Girl Determined are excited to see what the year will bring, and would be delighted to share with you a glimpse into the strength being harnessed by our Colorful Girls.  This particular narrative comes from a 15-year old girl who lost both her parents at a young age and has been living in a monastic school for nearly a decade.

 

“At first I didn’t want to join [Girl Determined’s] Colorful Girls. But after watching the girls play and hearing that I could learn new information that is not taught in school, I decided to join. It is different from school lessons. I also can share feelings. We learn about violence, menstruation, how to defense (sic) ourselves – run and use our voices - and we get a better idea about the reasons for discrimination between boys and girls.

I especially like the session on “Beyond Fear.” During this session we talked about the roots of discrimination and hatred and we learned where all of the different girls and their relatives came from. It really changed my perspective and the perspective of others about me. I do not need to be afraid of others or of our differences. It teaches me to be brave.

School is safe for us, but not the community around. It is not safe for girls. Society gives boys more favor. I think we are the same. I can do what they do. I think we all have abilities, therefore, we should be treated the same. I do not agree with what society says about natural male power. They believe that men are powerful and have an almost mystical natural power. I believe that we all have power.

 

As she plainly states: girls are brave, girls have power, girls have compassion.  Are these not the qualities we want for our leaders?  With opportunities to learning practical skills, confidence, and tolerance, these girls have increasingly greater likelihoods to usher in a new wave of leaders and pave the way for a strong and free Myanmar.

Thank you for your continued generosity and support, and let’s take this steadfast and positive momentum forward, hand in hand across the world, towards equality, fairness, and togetherness.  Be brave.

#juststepsforward #girldetermined

Helping one another learn new sports skills
Helping one another learn new sports skills
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Getting ready for Circles discussion time
Getting ready for Circles discussion time

Hello dear friends and supporters,

Through the Colorful Girls circles and now the sports (volleyball) for girls in some locations, we have continued to see the girls grow and bloom, increasing in confidence and in critical thinking. This was shown in their participation in events related to the International Day of the Girl held during October and into early November.  Through the activities girls expressed their perspectives on trafficking, violence and abuse and the role girls and women can play in improving their status and situation. Some of the past Colorful Girls participants were involved in the orgnization of the  International Day of the Girl events held in their communities.  These girls want the girls who are currently participating in the Circles to have the same opportunties as they had and to benefit from the same lessons. We have seen how the girls have quickly taken on a leadership role and express their opinion and desire to see Circles in the communities they had to leave due to internal displacement. 

Thank you for being a part of providing great opportunities for the girls and continuing to build off the experiences from participating in the Colorful Girls Circles.  

We're planning on holding camps for the the girls in 2017 and your continued support for their activities is greatly appreciated. 

Best wishes,

Pen

Discussion on role of women in communities
Discussion on role of women in communities
Girls singing at International Day of the Girl
Girls singing at International Day of the Girl
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Pollinator cover
Pollinator cover

Girls' Media Initiative
Throughout 2015 and 16 we explored other avenues for moving ideas, information and news to all the Colorful Girls groups as a way of increasing knowledge and the confidence to voice opinions and make decisions. We are testing out various media formats that provide girls with content outside of the forum of our weekly programs and special events. We conducted research on reading habits and access girls have to written materials – books, magazines, newspapers and the internet. Not surprisingly, they have very little access and in the sample group, only one book read by the girls was directed towards adolescent girl readers. Girls often don't have anything to read apart from school books or books and magazines for adults, so not much that peaks their interest. 

Girls meet in their Colorful Girls Circles every week and in some communities they have a circle and a sports session every week, but between sessions, there is limited contact. The publication of the magazine, "The Pollinator," gives the girls more opportunity to connect with wider conversations on health, choices, politics and education. The magazine concepts and content were developed by a committee of girls both current and past Circles participants. Most of the articles were written by Circles involved in our programs and a few were written by staff according to girls' requests. The Pollinator is going to be a great format for growing girls' connection with one another across the country, transmitting new ideas, introducing new project activities and, of course, inspiring budding journalists and writers. 

Thank you for being a part of providing great opportunities for the girls and continuing to build off the experiences from participating in the Colorful Girls Circles.

Pen

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Organization Information

Girl Determined

Location: Yangon - Myanmar
Website:
Project Leader:
Brooke Z
Yangon, Yangon Myanmar

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