The following post was written by Ieasha Ramsay, our most recent intern and newest member of our Board of Directors. Read on to catch a bit of her insight to the girls’ program we piloted in April. We are currently planning to roll this program out in July to 400 girls and we could not be more excited!
One day during the peak of Uganda’s dry season, I found myself hiding from the crazy sun and brainstorming ways I could directly impact the community before I ran back to my familiar (and lets face it – self absorbed) NYC environment. The universe must’ve thought it was the right time because the organization I was working with entered a transitional period, which left me with a whole lot of time and some pent up creativity.
After meeting with Kristine a few times to discuss a program they were trying to implement for their female students, I quickly realized this was my window. I had the same ambitions that Educate for Change did, providing educational opportunities to the future of Uganda. Together, E4C and I would put on a pilot Health & Leadership workshop, to test run a curriculum for widespread implementation later this summer.
I jumped on board and began the search for guest speakers, started thinking about some imperative topics that needed to be covered, and then tackled some fun stuff like t-shirt designs, workshop bonding and game ideas. It was surprisingly easy to get people excited and willing to participate in the program, which really gave me an insane amount hope for its impending impact.
Time passed quickly and before we knew it, the weekend was upon us! We set out to address three main topics: Self-Esteem, Sexual Health, and Self Defense. During that weekend we covered it all in a variety of incredible ways – since all three are so heavily intertwined with quality of life and the weekend’s motto of S.P.E.A.K. UP (Safety, Protection, Empowerment, Action and Knowledge), they were addressed easily and naturally in and outside of workshops. Through this umbrella theme we introduced the girls to things like communication skills, menstrual hygiene and risk reduction, areas that are rarely addressed with such a vulnerable population.
We broke up our educational workshops with games, icebreakers and activities to put our girls’ skills to use and get them comfortable with themselves and their fellow ladies. The weekend was filled with laughs, emotional story telling, and even a few sick dance moves; everything a weekend with your girls should be right?
The only word I can use to describe this experience for me is beautiful. From the minute the girls sat together and made their name tags, to the minute where we all darted away from the Caritas Center in the pouring rain, it was a beautiful experience. The freedom they obtained from simply being able to ask questions, gain clarity, and relate was something that shook me to the core! I’m so excited to be able to have participated in something that will continue to grow and change the lives of girls all over Uganda. This summer’s larger program is going to be epic, I can’t wait to see it unfold and to see all those precious girls take steps to better their lives.
There’s not a woman more powerful in this world than the one who knows herself, understands herself and believes in herself. Helping to support that statement will be one of the most fulfilling things I’ll ever have the pleasure of doing!
Thank you, Ieasha. You were, and continue to be, such a positive role model for young women. Our ladies adore you and benefited so much from your willingness to share your entire self with them. Apwoyo matek. We miss you!