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!
Search for my project, ID number 13-680-027