Girls’ Camps

12 07 2009
First Week

All the girls line up for a First Week picture at fellow PCV Amanda's (white girl in middle) Takaledougou Girl's Empowerment Camp. Continuation of the camp will see these girls breaking up into three interest groups: Small Commerce, English, and Health.

Girls camps in Burkina Faso are very affective projects for volunteers. In addition to being a focal activity during cultivating/rainy season, they also target the demographic most vulnerable in Burkina. Depending on the model, the week or month long activities reinforce confidence, family planning and other risk assessing activities, the importance of education, how to assert yourself and conflict resolution, and goal planning to name a few. In short, these camps help not only validate and support girls, they show men, women, and boys that girls are very worthy of their support as well.

The volunteer before me ran two very successful girls camps. I very much wanted to have one this summer, however the adoption of a girls club (when I absorbed my sitemate’s project when he left in april) and disputes over scheduling with my counterpart made this impossible this year. However, I am very hopeful for next year and in its absence, have helped out with two other girls’ camps: Takaledougou and Orodara.

First off, both of these were very well designed and executed by the volunteers living in their respective communities. The first of which I visited, Takaledougou, started with a week full of life skills and then separated into three focus groups: an english, a health, and a small commerce club. These groups met two days a week for the remainder of the month-long camp. The camp in Orodara was a week long life skills girls’ camp complete with local motivational and informative guest speakers with a  focus on informing and arming girls with  necessary skills to resist risky behavior.

More specifically, in Takeledougou, the camp of 20+ girls took place at the primaire (elem school). My first day, I assisted with a few english activities. The next day we did confidence boosting activities as well as future planning sessions concentrated on career paths and what steps are necessary (and their associated risks) to reach those goals. In between trips to Bobo to pick up some library things and then en route to Orodara, I stopped over for two sessions with the english group. During one of the english lessons, we actually used a Hallettsville Tribune (my hometown paper!) from May as a primary source asking each girl to chose a page and then present how the people look…in english to the other campers.

These girls were a breath of fresh air to see. Through the weeks, I was definitely able to notice a difference in their confidence levels. In addition, during my last visit to Tak, I was able to see the jewelry that the small commerce group had made: braided earrings, rings, and necklaces. Very cool stuff.

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Girls during a career-planning skills session. If only you could see all their jolly-rancher wrappers...........incentives for participation that Hallettsville Rotary Interact Club so graciously sent!

Though I wasn’t able to participate as much in Orodara, since its a bit further away, I was really excited to help. Orodara is more of a city than village (at least in comparison to Niankorodougou where I live and Takaledougou –technically smaller than Nianko though its close proximity to Banfora makes the villagers more accessible to resources/lycees (high school). The volunteer hosting the girls’ camp in Orodara is associated with a women’s cashew company and her husband (fellow volunteer) works for a mango drying women’s company also within the city.

Me at Orodara Girls' Camp (clearly being invaluable!)

Me at Orodara Girls' Camp (clearly being invaluable!)

The Oradara camp fused the 20+ girls  of those two organization’s families constituting a very motivated set of girls. Though I only spent one day at the camp, I was very inspired by the girls’ level of  participation. Morning sessions after icebreakers featured goal-setting activities and examples of good female  role models (for the record, michelle obama’s name WAS mentioned.) After lunch break, I led a career paths presentation that encouraged girls to take account of  skills and start asking questions about future options (college and scholarships) now. The camp was held at the local Maison des Femmes.

Maggie's Orodara Girls' Camp

Maggie's Orodara Girls' Camp

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One response

12 08 2009
Dana

I love love love what you are doing with those girls. It is such important work esp. as you said they are probably the most vulnerable group. I finished reading the Parachute Drop (so crazy/great intro. to African politics) and I’m in the middle of reading Nine Hills. It is so amazing what you are doing, I am so sooo proud of you!

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