Girl Power

First of all, a big thank you to anyone who read my blog post a few months back about Camp GLOW (“Girls Leading Our World”) and donated to the project. The camp took place earlier this month, and it was a big success. I was able to bring two girls from my village to participate in the weeklong workshop, and they loved it.

In total, about 50 middle school-aged girls from around central Benin got to come. And for an entire week, they got to just hang out and have fun. They didn’t have to work in the fields or cook for their families. They didn’t have to collect water and firewood. They got to run around in shorts, play games, and learn some useful life skills. We had educational sessions each day. I co-led a session on nutrition – some of the other sessions included leadership, women’s health, computer skills, and discussions on marriage and women in the workplace.

It was so much fun to get to watch these girls grow and learn throughout the week, and very different than camp experiences I’ve had in the U.S! Back home, a lot of kids have what I call “summer camp fatigue” and you have to work to get their full participation. Not here. These girls were so enthusiastic and motivated to be at camp. And when we had a dull moment in the schedule, they’d just start singing and dancing on their own! They especially liked listening to American music.

My birthday fell during the middle of camp, and I really can’t think of a better way to have spent it than by encouraging young girls to recognize their potential and strive to be strong, confident, healthy women. And they were so happy for me on my birthday! They drew pictures for me and wished me health, prosperity, and a good husband, lol. During break that day one of the girls asked if she could braid my hair; I said sure and immediately had about ten girls descend on my head and all start braiding my hair at the same time!

When the school year resumes in October, I am hoping to start a girls club at the local secondary school and have the two girls from my village who went to the camp be the leaders of the club. In the meantime, I’ve got a handful of other projects and activities in the works. I’m finally ready to begin the chicken-raising project I’ve been planning for since last March – we just need to raise the funds. So here’s another chance for you… if you are interested, please go the Peace Corps Partnership website and donate to my project! I will be forever grateful!

Website: http://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate
Search for my project, ID number 13-680-027

Sending love!

Peace Corps BeninPermalink

5 Responses to Girl Power

  1. Karen Torghele says:

    Dear Heidi,
    Your observations on life and ways to approach it in a healthy way reflect who you are as a person. By sharing them with us through your blog, you will help us all figure out how to incorporate them into our lives and make us each better people. Thank you.
    Our good news here is that Lisa passed the bar exam on her first attempt. She is one happy woman! That plus we are related to the cutest little 10-month old in the world!
    I think about you every day and include you in my prayers.
    Love, Aunt Karen

  2. Betty Ostlund says:

    Heidi,
    It was so nice to spend some time with you when you were home. I enjoyed visiting with you all and looking at your pictures. I have now caught up on your recent posts. I loved the one about the tree distribution. I am so proud of you for what you are doing. You are a wonderful example and a great mentor for these kids. I will continue to keep you in my prayers and now I am going to go to the Peace Corps Partnership website.
    Love, Betty

  3. Joyce_dickhane@msn.com says:

    Heidi,

    Who would not want to be a happy, sweet girl like you. One who loves everything and everybody. We are proud to be grandparents of such a gal.

    It sounds as tho your week at the college with the girls was truly a success for you as well as the students.

    We think of you often and will now make our donation to your chicken project.
    We look forward to 2014 and hopefully will be in good health so we can enjoy you upon your return to US.

    It has been a very warm and humid day today here in MN and I think of you when we have day like this thinking every day for you is like this and I hope that you can get used to it.

    Love to you,
    Grandma

  4. Holly Anderson says:

    You are one of the finest mentors these girls will ever see. I hope that they can go forward as community examples and help other girls learn to value themselves as they should.

    lv, mm

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