In January, Global Grassroots welcomed an amazing new team of 14 social change agents from Uganda.
Our Young Women's Academy for Conscious Change (YWA) provides young women with the opportunity to become a change leader during the break between high school graduation and university enrollment. Through inner work, compassionate attunement to community needs, and leveraging personal assets, participants deepen their sense of self as future leaders by initiating social enterprises within their communities. By catalyzing young women leaders, Global Grassroots creates an underlying culture of collaboration, equitable involvement, and female empowerment – paving the way for future generations of women to be seen as change agents and innovators in their communities.
Through our intensive experiential leadership curriculum, participants acquire important educational, professional, and life skills that enable them to design their own social justice organization, heal from trauma, develop social-emotional intelligence, and step into their capacity as self-aware leaders. We provide seed funding for their ventures, high-engagement support, and a partial university scholarship upon graduating from our program. YWA trainees tend to focus on critical issues facing girls and their future, including teen pregnancy; sex education, reproductive health, and family planning; domestic violence; child marriage; girls’ education; child nutrition; prostitution; domestic violence; depression; street children, cancer, and more.
Our new cohort has already attended the first level training and each of them has returned home to address the social issue most important to her. We can’t wait for them to return in late March to report on their progress. It is through your generous support that we can continue to offer them the ongoing support that they need to become empowered change makers.
We can’t wait to tell you all the amazing things they have done.
Thank you so much for helping us support vulnerable young women! We couldn’t do it without you!
Christine is from Kibirichia, Kenya, and recently graduated from our 2018 Young Women's Academy for Conscious Change (YWA). She was inspired to address the issue of girls dropping out of school in her community.
“I chose this issue because it comes from people I know—one of my dearest friends dropped from Form 4 because she unexpectedly got pregnant. She missed her exams and now she cannot go to higher education. She was a talented student! She is trying to go to technical schools but she is not sure. She was so close to university but now she has lost hope, all because she is too ashamed to repeat her final year as a young mother.”
Christine knows that poverty is another big reason why students, particularly girls, drop out of school. She worked at four secondary schools in her district, telling the students about government programs that can fund their studies since many of them don’t know that they have that option. She met with parents to help them start savings groups to help plan for their children's future. Christine also spoke at local churches and helped raise money for scholarships for the poorest students in the area.
Christine didn't stop at the financial root of school drop-outs. Within the schools where she was working, she created fun activities, including book clubs, to reduce the amount of idle time girls have and, through her advocacy, teachers and school administrators have made themselves more available when students need to talk about a problem. Christine then taught the girls "better communication skills and helped them improve their self-esteem so they will be better equipped to...ask for assistance when they hit rough patches in school."
The final step in Christine's venture was to recruit her YWA counterparts to lend a hand. As a result, 30 vulnerable girls in Kibirichia now have mentors across East Africa.
In the few years prior to Christine starting her venture, 18 girls would drop out of school in her district each year - ten because they had become pregnant. In the year since, only three have become pregnant and left school.
The 24 motivated young women, including Christine, who participated in Global Grassroots' 2018 Young Women's Academy impacted 10,304 people, mostly girls, across four countries, including in one refugee camp. We have already selected those applicants who will be part of our 2019 Young Women's Academy and we look forward to welcoming them to our initial training session in January.
Your support of Global Grassroots changes the lives of vulnerable young women and girls just like Christine. Please consider becoming a monthly sponsor of our Young Women's Academy through Global Giving. Thank you so much and best wishes for a beautiful holiday season!
Pamela is a South Sudanese refugee who has lived in Koboko district in Uganda for 15 years with her maternal grandmother and her two younger brothers. She does not know her father (who left when her mother was pregnant) and her mother has since died. Her goal was to teach 45 girls across two schools about personal hygiene and how to make reusable sanitary pads and to educate the community on hygiene and adequate rubbish disposal.
First Pamela worked with girls in the local schools: “These schools had no pads at all—they just offer emergency kitenge (brightly colored and patterned local fabric) to cover girls who had dirtied themselves. I had to teach these girls that to bleed is not a sin or a sickness. The disposable pads are expensive and many of these girls are too ashamed to talk with their parents. They share used pads with each other or use leaves. I asked the school to buy some simple materials and organized a training on how to make reusable sanitary pads. Now each girl has a pad that will last for 6 months and she has the knowledge to help herself and to teach others, too.”
When word spread about Pamela’s program another 25 girls joined. In total, 70 girls are now able to make their own pads and teach others how to as well.
Pamela has also partnered with the local health inspector to teach the community about sanitation and hygiene. Together they visited 50 homes in two villages - just two of which had any place for washing their hands. They provided guidance on how to accomplish this critical task at various locations nearby.
Pamela explained, “The problem is particularly bad for the South Sudanese. They are just renting their homes—they don’t have a long-term mentality and they do not care for themselves. Disease and dirtiness are big problems. Plus, the landlords are Ugandans and don’t care to help these Sudanese. The refugees don’t know their rights.”
Finally, Pamela addressed the community trash problem. She convinced the health assistant to build nine rubbish bins along the main road so that local households would have a place to deposit their trash and to reduce the amount of litter in the village. Then Pamela recruited 150 school children to lead a community clean-up day. Local shopkeepers told her that she has 'transformed their community' and that she has made it 'something new, something beautiful.'
Your support helps girls like Pamela participate in our Young Women's Academy and transform not only their own lives but the lives of other women and girls in their communities.
]Please consider becoming a monthly donor to Global Grassroots through GlobalGiving.
Petite and soft-spoken, Brenda might not immedaitely come across as a powerhouse, but don't be fooled. This 2014 Young Women's Academy participant and recent university graduate is a dynamic agent of change. Abandoned by her father when she was young, Brenda used to have to scavenge for food in her rural Uganda community. The pastor of her church and his wife took her in and, recognizing her potential, found a sponsor for her education. She completed secondary school at a leadership academy for the most vulnerable girls and was accepted into Global Grassroots' Young Women's Academy (YWA) in 2014. While in our program, Brenda helped widows in her village improve their lives. With the small grant she received from Global Grassroots (about $150), Brenda provided each widow with a piglet, teaching them how to care for and raise it. All of the piglets eventually had piglets of their own which the women then sold and either bought more piglets or other animals such as goats to raise and sell. Eventually, through the sale of their livestock, every widow's standard of living noticeably improved and their children have been able to go to school. One woman has even been able to build her own house!
After our program, and despite going to university far from home, Brenda chose to continue her venture, making the two-day journey back every chance she could. She graduated from university in Kampala in January of this year and, when she learned that Global Grassroots was creating a Young Fellows Program for YWA graduates who have completed university to spend one year working with us, Brenda applied. Brenda now assists with our 2018 YWA cohort, monitoring and mentoring their work in their home villages and acting as a teaching assistant during all three of our training sessions.
But Brenda's devotion to social change doesn't stop there. With the small stipend she receives from Global Grassroots, as her pastor did for her, Brenda has taken in two street youth: a 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old HIV+ boy. She has found sponsors for both and they are now back in school. Further, Brenda has joined forces with her pastor and others to provide children in her home village with a school so they don't have to walk the many miles each day to get an education. The walk takes so many hours that many children drop out. Insprired by Brenda's unselfish commitment to her community, a local man has just donated the land on which a school can be built. Brenda's goal is to ensure that every child has the opportunity to go to school, to support themselves, and to live a life out of poverty. We believe she is well on her way to achieving her goal.
Our Young Women's Academy provides vulnerable yet motivated young women such as Brenda with the training, seed funding, and high-engagement support to become leaders of social change in their communities. Your support will make it possible for other emerging leaders to change the world. Please consider becoming a recurring donor through GlobalGiving. Thank you for your generosity!
The Kyaka II Refugee Settlement in western Uganda is home to nearly 50,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Girls there face major hurdles to getting an education: as refugees, parents have little money to spend on school fees, especially for girls; the too few schools are often too far away for many; trauma and post-migration stress can impact a refugee's ability to cope with challenges so a girl may drop out of school more easily; the list goes on.
Vanessa (above), one of 24 trainees in our 2018 Young Women's Academy (YWA) is focused on ensuring that girls in the settlement get an education. Her goal during our 7-month program is to reach 400 youth through workshops, community gatherings, and classroom visits; reduce the girl drop-out rate among those 400 by 30% by creating engaging extracurricular programs and self-esteem development workshops; and reduce the number of children who never start school by 50% by sensitizing parents of girls ages 3-8 about the long-term benefits of educating their daughters.
You can help support the work of Vanessa and others like her by becoming a monthly donor to Global Grassroots through GlobalGiving. We are grateful for your generosity!
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