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Let Girls Learn

Dear Family and Friends,

I am so excited to share with you this amazing project that we are developing here in Madagascar for young girls.
A group of 20 Peace Corps Volunteers are planning a National Girls Empowerment Camp for the end of April 2016. Each volunteer will bring 5 smart and ambitious young girls from their respective communities to attend a 5 day Conference in the Capital city, Antananarivo. This National Girls Camp will bring together Malagasy Girls from multiple ethnicities to focus on issues relevant to adolescent girls, specifically: leadership development, self efficacy, goal setting, and life planning – which includes higher education and work.
Regional GLOW Camps have been held across Madagascar for years but never engaging multiple Malagasy ethnicities in one learning environment. This National GLOW Camp promotes the leadership development of young women, of different Malagasy ethnicities, so they can become effective leaders. In order to achieve this, youth must be aware of themselves – of their current situation and challenges, of their goals and aspirations, and of their potential for success and leadership – and be aware of the community that surrounds them. Once aware, youth will be able to analyze themselves and their communities, become knowledgeable about them, and become able to propose solutions. GLOW Camp provides a proactive environment that applies equally to individual development and social actions. Furthermore, GLOW supports and nurtures young women, providing educational opportunities, guidance and validation – all within the context of reinforcing pride in the student’s cultural background and his/her self esteem. Through this National GLOW Camp, young women- of different backgrounds- work together, support each other, learn about and promote their heritage, and develop skills and commitment to serve their community.
This project addresses the critical issue of women’s empowerment, incorporating the components necessary to encourage girls to lead healthy and productive lives. In each of our communities, girls face a variety of difficulties related to their personal and professional development due to limited resources, assigned gender roles and lack of awareness of the opportunities available to them. Girls become sexually active at a young age and often do not receive adequate education regarding sexual health, particularly related to HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. The promotion of a healthy lifestyle is essential for these girls to realize their life goals, along with the awareness of opportunities and empowerment needed to encourage them to take the steps necessary to fulfill these goals. As a result, educators, parents and community members have identified the GLOW camp as an effective tool for promoting girls’ development and community and youth development overall through the transfer of knowledge in the short-term and the cultivation of strong role models and positive behavior
change in the long-term.
How is the community the driving force behind the project?
In each of our respective communities, Malagasy counterparts will be directly involved in the selection of the girls to be involved in the camp, and all girls falling within the appropriate age group are encouraged to apply. Interested girls will complete an application that highlights their particular goals and reasons for wanting to participate in the camp. Participants will then be selected through a comprehensive process that involves several stakeholders and are believed to represent the greatest potential for personal development as well as potential to teach and influence other members of the community, particularly youth. Female chaperones from each community will accompany the girls chosen. These women are role models for the girls and can act as mentors for future life decisions, having made connections and received the same trainings during the camp. Both the PCVs and community representatives collaborated to identify priorities for youth development within each community, and camp subjects were designed to address these priorities including both health and life goals. Additionally, PCVs will work with representatives from local organizations and institutions to prepare the camp sessions with the intent to promote learning, discussion and critical thinking among the participants.
Desired outcome of the project:
The desired outcome in the long-term is to empower the camp participants and provide them with the tools necessary to achieve their life goals and to become positive role models capable of encouraging their peers to do the same. In the short-term, 100 young girls will be taught in issues relating to health, career goals and education to encourage their own personal development while building community capacity to address the issues that adolescent girls face.
Please take a look at the brochure I have attached and consider supporting this amazing project!
Follow the link below for more information on how you can make a difference now!
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Counterpart Training

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These women are the HEART and SOUL of the Cultural Center of Hope. It was amazing to be able to have them trained at the recent Peace Corps Counterpart training! They thoroughly enjoyed the accommodations, meeting new friends, and sharing funny stories about their PCV!

Thank you for being the backbone of my project!

Interning at the Maternity Clinic

I have been blessed with the experience to intern at the local maternity clinic! The photos above are actually from a clinic 90 km north of my village. Unfortunately we do not have an ultrasound as of yet, therefore expecting mothers must travel 4 hours north to get an ultrasound. My friend Nasrine and I traveled north to check how far along she was and the position of her baby. She is having a boy! (Actually by the time this post goes up she will have already have given birth!)

I decided to focus my third year on interning, watching, and soaking up information in the local health clinics. I have sat through mother child consultations, helped with vaccines, and will be seeing my first birth this month!

A Brave Man

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“I am now the best looking man”

Lezoma, 33 years old, ostracized from his community for being different. Since a young age he was teased for his different face. Children would scream and point fingers at him, calling him names. At 11 years old he decided to drop out of school and work the rice fields. He found peace in the solitude of the rice fields, no one calling him names, no one yelling mean slurs at him. He worked as a farmer and helped out during the various fruit picking seasons to make a living.

My first encounter with Lezoma was in January 2014. I heard there was a young man who had a double cleft lip who lived in a small village off the main road called, Tsaravinany. I took my chances and biked out to the village, before no time I crossed Lezoma on the path. He carried bundles of banana leaves and two large jackfruits which hung from thick piece of wood. I greeted him in local dialect. He looked at me surprised, even chuckled a little at the sight of a foreigner speaking local tongue. I asked if we could talk, that I had something important I wanted to ask him. I explained about the mission, Operation Smile was arriving in April to the capital, Tana, and I would love to have him join me. His face brightened. He immediately answered, “You can fix this!” and pointed to the large gaps in his face. I explained that if he trusts me and would like to come up on to Tana with me I would be leaving the first week of April and I would pick him up on the main road. He agreed.

Lezoma walked into the operating room barefoot, nervous yet calm. I was present for the entire surgery and held his hand through his fear. Lezoma’s surgery went amazing, his before and after pictures were tremendous. His courageous spirit was a highlight of the mission.

6 months after we had returned from Tana, I biked back to Tsaravinany, the small village lined with rice fields and banana trees. To my surprise, young kids whom I had never seen before, ran up to me screaming, “Lezoma! Lezoma!”. My heart beat accelerated as I wasn’t sure if this was a good or bad thing that they image3 image2 image1-2were screaming his name. I arrived at a small coffee seller, and there sat Lezoma. His dark brown eyes looked back at me, and small wrinkled formed on the sides as he smiled. “Charlotte! Mandroso!” he welcomed me to sit. I ordered a small coffee with sugar cane syrup. “How are you? How is everything? Tell me about you.” I requested. He stood up, “Charlotte, I have a problem! A big problem!” My heart dropped, thoughts raced, what could it be, an infection? Another health problem? “ I am so good looking now, all the ladies in town want me!” He chuckled, that familiar chuckle I had heard when first meeting him. I exclaimed “ OH MY! Yes you are a good looking man!”. We exchanged smiles. Later that afternoon I headed back home, as I turned around he waved once more, and said “Thank you, thank you.”