Tagged: Women

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!

Relative

What is normal? What is okay? What is reality. After 2 years of living abroad I have seen myself, my attitude, and my values slowly change. I have noticed that my friendships have slowly come apart and my relationship with things “ back home” have changed drastically, I am not sure how to explain these feelings but can sum them up to be: relative. My world for the last 2 years has been revolved around helping others. While I have been here, I feel that it has been extremely difficult to keep frienships and relationships alive back home. I can only assume that it is because of the lack of relativeness between both lives. A wise PCV (peace Corps volunteer) once told me that it is harder to re-integrate into your community back home than it is to integrate into this community here. Seeing that I am coming up on my Close of Service, the though of re-integrtion is a scary one. My level of comfort with the simple life and current reality make it extremely difficult to imagine coming back to the States. I also look bak on all of the things I have been able to achieve here, whether successful or not successful, I have learned and grown tremendously through each experience. From organizing festivals with audiences amounting to 700 people to visiting the deep countryside reaching out to the poorest of the poor, and educating them about prevention methods to various diseases,

This country has changed me. It has opened my mind to a plethora  of thoughts. I can confidently say that this is just the beginning of a long life of service. I am not sure where life will take me after peace corps. What I do know is it will involve serving others. It will involve giving my heart to those who need it most. The most fulfilling part of life is giving yourself, and that is what I intend to do.

Girls run the WORLD!

GIRLS EMPOWERMENT CLUB !

Today we discussed gender roles in the MALAGASY community. Words like
” pounding rice, fetching water, stopping their education” we’re seen on the female side. We held a discussion about the importance women hold in their households, in their community, in the world.

Favorite quote of the day from a 13 year old girl. (Translated)

“Miss Charlotte the reason why need women is well… Boys have no idea how to take care of themselves. We are the WORLD! “

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Girls Lead. Empower. Educate.

Two weeks ago I brought 4 girls from Mahanoro to participate in a GLOW camp- Girls Leading Our World weeklong camp in Tana. ( the capital). The catch being that when they come back they needed to develop their own Girls Empowerment Club.

This is a photograph taken of their first meeting yesterday! Over 45 girls showed up. My 4 outstanding Presidents of the (soon to be) GLOW Club Mahanoro held an amazing meeting. They discussed and outlined the different topics that will be discussed every week. Topics carrying from “how to further your education” to “how to properly out a condom on”, “how to avoid teenage pregnancy” … Etc. every week we will have a strong woman from the community, a doctor, teacher, mother, come and talk to the Club about her life story and her goals.

It brought tears to my eyes to see 45 girls show up and to see the leadership skills come out in my 4 presidents.

So proud of them.

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Mandrakizay {forever}

This is my neighbor she makes these really cool wood sculptures and paints them with bright colors.

Today she gifted me two for my birthday (tomorrow) she asked me how old I was turning. I responded 24. She looked relieved and responded, “ohh thank god! That means that I have many years to learn English. Many years until you are old and wrinkly you will stay here in Mahanoro and I will then speak English!”

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Faces of Madgascar

Recently I have decided to try and take one portrait a day. With every portrait comes a conversation. This has allowed me not only practice my Malagasy but get to know individuals in my community and people who I pass on my daily walks.

These are some of my favorite portraits during the past two weeks.

Enjoy.

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Olga

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After 10 days of emotions, hard work, and constant interpretation, I am honored to say that I have worked with some of the most selfless and inspirational individuals. The staff, doctors, and nurses of CRMF, Caring Response Madagascar Foundation, are phenomenal. I would love to share a small story of how I had the ability to witness their selfless actions.
“Thursday morning the team heads out to Hopitaly Be in Tamatave. Excited to meet new faces, we all give each other a round of hugs. One of the doctors grabs my arm and says ‘Hey we have to go check out this patient, can you join to interpret for us please.’ I nod and follow her down the corridor of the hospital into a small room.
There lays a small framed woman, no more than 18 years old, her eyes swollen and yellow, her shortness of breath evoking pain. The doctor makes her way by her side pulling me along. ‘Ask her what hurts? What’s going on? Find out some history for me.” I proceed to have a conversation with this young woman. She is a new mother of a one month old boy, she had complications in her birth which led to a C-section. When the C-section was done they slit open her bowel. The doctors who had done the surgery attempted to sow it back and staple her stomach shut. One month later she still lays on a bed, unable to hold her newborn, unable to find comfort due to a gaping 3 inch deep 4 inch long hole in her abdomen. At first glance the CRMF doctor took a deep breath and stood silently. Two minutes later, the doctor looked at me, looked at the young woman laying in front of her, and looked at the one month old baby squirming near by, ” Tell her we will operate on her tomorrow, tell her not to worry about the medication, the anesthesia, or any expenses, we will take care of it.”
The next day we went into surgery, myself and another PCV, Banaz, witnessed the preparation and surgery. I became surprised at how passion to help others drove these doctors to save this woman’s life. They treated her with dignity with respect and with care. They spoke to her family after the surgery was done and ensured that they understood how to change the bandages appropriately.
Olga, 18 years old now has a chance at life. Her new born baby boy Manuelo is still squirming by her side and her family is ever so thankful for these doctors selfless work.