Friday, May 17, 2013

GLOWing brightly at Camp GLOW

April 29th – May 4th, 2013

GLOW camp finally came and went with huge success!!!

The week started when, Nosipho (my counterpart and sisi) and I drug our bags and bedding to the bus stop where we met with the two girls we had selected to attend the camp.  From there we got on a bus and picked up Addy, her counterpart Zandie, and four other campers from our community in Mpaka then we were all off to Siteki where Camp GLOW was being held at the primary school for the deaf.

Once in Siteki we met up with many other PCVs, counselors and campers at the bus rank.  Soon after a bus with balloons and posters advertising itself as the GLOW bus pulled up and loaded us all up to take us to the campus.  A whirlwind of checking in, saying hellos to old and new friends, getting beds assigned and Camp GLOW finally began.

We had a weekend filled with knowledge, fun, empowerment, and food.  The girls were taught mostly by our trained counterparts who were serving as counselors and by us PCVs.  Day one was all welcomes and ground rules, and getting to know each other activities.  Day two was all about health.  Girls attended sessions on HIV and STI knowledge, contraceptives, personal hygiene, male and female bodies, emotional health, having a child by choice not chance, alternatives to sex, and abstinence.  Day three was art day.  A local art gallery called Yebo Art came as part of their art outreach program.  The campers each were taught how to screen print and designed something personal to be printed on their GLOW t-shirt.  They also got a chance to paint portraits and learned about expressing themselves through poetry, lead by a local poet named Black Note.

One of my GLOW girls Landiwe making her
screenprint on her t-shirt.
 Day Four was all about getting out and about.  We took a walk to a beautiful private farm nearby and held sessions on volunteerism, leadership, and team building.  I taught about leadership in an orange grove, and then we ate lunch by a lily-pad pond.  Beautiful day!  Day Five was all about learning more about the resources around Swaziland that can help empower women.  We had a career fair, a male and female panel made up of successful men and women from Swaziland, and national organizations supporting women’s right were there to talk with girls about how they are there to help empower young women.

The week ended with an epic talent show.  We had 20 acts that covered all topics of women’s empowerment.  Songs, dances, poems, dramas (skits) and even a thrown together dance number performed by us PCVs to Beyonce’s “Girls run the World.”  I lost my voice cheering on the girl power that was happening in that room.  We expended all the energy we had left in a dance party where my campers taught me how to move like a true Swazi.  Get ready America; I have some awesome new dance moves to show you.

A week after we arrived we sadly had to say goodbye.  The shy greetings that started the camp was replaced with cheering goodbyes and promises to stay in touch on facebook and whats app.

Hurray for GLOW!!

The Malindza/Mpaka crew!
 Us PCVs needed to do a debrief after camp so we stayed an extra night after sending the girls and counselors on their way.  We stayed at the private farm we walked to earlier that week.  After reviewing the week and making suggestions for next year, we celebrated our huge success with Mexican food, cocktails, and another dance party.  Sadly it was all over by 8:30pm and we were in bed by 9pm all super exhausted from the week.  It was nice to sleep in a normal bed again.  We PCV took the brunt of the sleeping accommodations at the school and stayed in the preschool dorms, with preschool sized beds, preschool sized toilets, and low level sinks. 

The PCV GLOW executive council!

Can’t wait to see how GLOW will continue to grow in my community and excited to hear how camp will be even bigger and better next year!

A huge THANK YOU to everyone at home who contributed to GLOW, with donations, monetary or in-kind.  This would not have been at all possible if we didn’t have your support and donations.  We were able to give each girl a goody bag with personal toiletries and fun stuff that are novelties to them.  They also got a week away from the confines of the role of girls in a traditional Swazi homestead.  They got a taste of what life could hold for them and received some tools and knowledge to get to wherever they dream of going!  Giver yourself a pat on the back for making all of that a possibility, your donation may have been just the thing to change a girls life forever!  

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