Saturday, May 31, 2014

Namibia and Botswana - One Month, Ten Pictures

I just spent a month hitch-hiking around Namibia and Botswana, but sometimes pictures are just better than words, so here are ten of my favorites from the month. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Women's Empowerment - So, are you empowered yet?

This year, I'm helping to lead a women's empowerment group here at Waterford. We visit local schools with a program that is meant to empowerment the female students, and hopefully inspires them to dream beyond what is there in front of them.

I'm not sure if it's working.

The issue we had was deciding what really was "women's empowerment." I'm a very hands-on, do-it kind of person, and after having read "Half The Sky," (great book, highly recommend it), I was convinced that the only real way to do any women's empowerment was to pick an issue blocking empowerment, and work against it. For example, work on a project specifically focused on maternal health, sex trafficking, education, nutrition, etc.

The other view was that as students, our presence in simply speaking to students at various schools would be enough to inspire some sort of change, or at least plant a seed in one of the student's minds of what the future might hold, should they decide to chase it. My challenge with this is that it provides students with no support, and nothing that might make reaching their goals any easier. Sure, we've told them to dream, but all I can imagine is us leaving, and having them rolling their eyes and saying "we are dreaming... stupid Waterford kids."

So, here's what we've come up with as a middle ground. It's not a direct project, but it's also not just going to a school for a week, saying what we're going to say, and then leaving.

The plan is that we're going to be working at Motjane High School for the rest of the year. We're going to have four weeks with one group of thirty girls, and then four weeks with another group of thirty girls. Once a week, we will go down to the school and run a session around a specific theme. Each session will include activities, discussions, and lessons in which the goal is going to be to empower the girls as much as possible by "tricking" them into leading the sessions themselves, with as little guidance from us Waterford students as possible. The themes are going to be:

  1. Gender Roles: How to break them without making everyone angry
  2. Goal-Setting: How to make a reasonable goal and what to do to reach it
  3. Relationships: Self-Esteem to Self-Defense
  4. Women in Leadership Roles
Hopefully going back so often should have some sort of an impact. I'm really excited to start this section of the project, and see how it goes! I've found that every project is a bit of an experiment, and whether or not this is the absolute best way to empower this specific group of thirty girls, it's definitely not the worst. The school is keen to have us, and I can't wait to get started!