The girls working on their venture plans
Since the fall, our six teams of girls who took the course "Girls Academy for Conscious Change" are engaged in fully operational ventures. They include teenage mothers, girls who are HIV+ and those who are the heads of their child-headed households. For these girls, their education is critical. The further they advance in their academics and training the more likely they are to improve their health, their sense of self-worth and their ability to contribute significantly to their communities.
Here are short summaries of the ventures they created and the progress they are making:
Brave People is working to reduce the number of street children, ages 8-14, by educating them in performances using songs, plays and poems. Their goal is to mobilize these children to leave their street life, and bring them back to school and to their families. To date, this team of 18 high school girls has independently reintegrated seven children back into their original families and helped three children find families to adopt them. They are working to ensure all children are reenrolled in school.
Invincible is working to reduce hunger by increasing farm yields using fertilizers, anti-erosion techniques and smart water usage. With a team of 5 members, Invincible was able to approach local leaders who agreed to partner with them, purchased four pigs to give to families and has worked to train the families on using fertilizer from the pigs to benefit the crops.
New Life is working to fight overpopulation by providing 400 people with trainings on family planning, performing educational plays, songs and poems that show the public the “bad effects” of overpopulation and mobilizing people to use family planning. New Life’s team of 17 girls has created strategic partnerships with nurses from the local health center who helped them provide comprehensive family planning training to local women.
Hard Workers has pledged to reduce poverty among women and girls by fighting their lack of self-confidence and teaching them marketable skills. They began by organizing basket-weaving classes that take place under a tree. Women gather in the shade to weave, while hearing these seven girls talk about self-confidence and how to value the skills that they have.
Step Forward is working to reduce domestic violence faced by children, ages 7-20, by conducting trainings among 300 parents to reduce the ignorance of child rights. They also aim to help children return to school and acquire health insurance. This small team of nine has taken initial steps towards implementing their vision. Step Forward facilitated conversations between parents and children at a local municipal office. They discussed children’s rights, how parents can help children achieve a bright future and worked to develop a “culture of conversation” between parents and children. They also gave school materials such as notebooks, pens, school bags and soap to 10 of the most vulnerable children.
Withstand is working solve a lack of day care centers (preventing children under the age of 7 from playing in the streets and getting into accidents) by training parents and local leaders about the importance of these centers, and to build and register pre-school aged children in those centers. Recognizing that their vision requires significant funding and local partnership, they approached local leaders who agreed to raise this issue at community meetings and help mobilize the population to build nursery schools. They also led two public discussions about the importance of day care to more than 100 people.
The Girls Academy for Conscious Change provides the resources necessary for girls to advance the wellbeing of their communities - and to claim the same for themselves.
Thank you so much for your part in helping support this special group of girls at this critical juncture of their lives. As we head into 2014 we will see how their ventures continue to take shape and we look forward to keeping you informed.