Girl Connect in Zambia!
Contributed by: Rachel Johansen
For the past three weeks I have been leading a Girl Connect group for a 7th grade class. About 20 girls and I have been meeting three days a week to explore topics such as leadership, communication, goals, and values. It is something Girls Empowerment Network does all the time in schools across Texas. What makes this wonderful group of girls different it that they live in Livingstone, Zambia.
At the beginning of this year I decided I wanted to go back to Zambia to volunteer as I had a few years ago. Then it occurred to me that I should bring the Girl Connect program with me. After some coordination with Girls Empowerment Network and the Zambian organization I would be working with, I was all set to support and empower girls in Zambia.
The school I am working at is in the Livingstone neighborhood of Linda. It is one of the most vulnerable parts of the city. Children in Linda may not eat every day and most of the students at Linda Community School have lost one or both parents. But you would never know it when you walk into the classroom - teenage girls chatting, doing schoolwork, and playing with each other's hair. Not all that different from my experiences in Texas.
I was worried that the girls wouldn't connect with the topics or the issues wouldn't translate to the Zambian culture. The girls didn't contribute much or show a lot of interest in the first few sessions. Well, not as much as I had hoped or that I see in the United States. But they were absorbing the information and becoming comfortable with me. The fourth meeting we talked about leadership and that is when they really opened up. They performed skits and fully committed to the acting. Since then they have shown to be thoughtful, intelligent, and ambitious young women.
I feel honored to have the opportunity to work with these phenomenal girls and I still have three weeks to go!
Note from Girls Empowerment Network staff: Rachel is one of our magnificent Girl Connect volunteers in Houston! Be sure to check back in a few weeks for the next installment in her blog post series about facilitating our self-efficacy curriculum in Zambia!