Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Create Your Voice Girls Camp

Awesome PCVs!!!
During the school holiday, in March, Matt and I hosted a female empowerment camp called Create Your Voice, with some awesome PCVs Betsy Holtz, Tim Hainley, Amy Oppfelt, Jackie Wille, and Kelsey Smith. We were also joined by Kisty Mtambo, a local Primary School teacher.
In the morning we had interactive lessons about female empowerment and HIV prevention using an outstanding program called GrassRoot Soccer. In the afternoon we taught creative art classes that emphasized how we can use visual, performing, and written arts to share an important message with our communities and friends.
Betsy demonstrating how to use various art supplies. 
During the week we were able to reach 46 girls age 11 to 19 about HIV prevention and management, child rights, family planning, self-confidence, reproductive health, and goal setting. These are things that are not often discussed in Malawi, and rarely in a safe space with other girls. They really had an opportunity to open up and ask hard questions that in other settings might make them uncomfortable.
The camp culminated in a public graduation in which all participants shared with the community what they felt was the more important message from the week of camp. Using the visual and preforming art skills gained during camp, 4 groups of 10-12 students created and preformed messages for the community. The students created songs, posters, poems, and short dramas.

Each group came up with their messages independently, but in the end it was clear that they had one common message to share. Every group wanted to let the community know that the way to a better Malawi is stopping violence against women and promoting gender equality.

When asked about the camp one girl responded,
"We've learned so much and I feel like I can do what I am told is not possible. I want other girls to know that they too can achieve their goals."
Another girl, form 3, said 
"I must dream big to achieve big!"

Girls preforming a skit about gender based violence
for the community
Since the camp several girls have asked to continue to learn art so they can spread important messages to their community. Other girls have asked to help teach lessons on gender equality and HIV. The camp was not only a success in the sense that there was a severe improvement in knowledge (11.3% increase from pre to post-test) but there seems to be a fundamental drive from the participants to let other girls know that they have a voice and deserve to be heard.

Due to demand from the students, in July, we did another Create Your Voice camp.  This time Co-Ed.  Stay tuned for more photos and stories!!! 

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