Those of you who know me well, or just know me, or kinda sorta know me, probably know that I don’t much like kids. Of any age.
So, naturally, acting as a counselor for a week-long camp with a bunch of teenage girls sounds like my worst nightmare, right?
Surprise! It actually turned out to be amazing. (Full disclosure: I didn’t do as much “counseling” as my fellow PCVs given my job duties, which might have contributed to the amazingness)
To summarize the experience, here are some stats about Bahir Dar Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) 2012:
38 high school girls (including six junior counselors who were former campers)
11 towns in the Amhara Region represented
13 Peace Corps Volunteers
8 Community Counterparts
6 days and nights
5 themed training days – University/All About Me, Women’s Empowerment and Leadership, Reproductive Health and Nutrition, HIV and Infectious Disease, Environment
1 host organization – Bahir Dar University, which provided housing and classrooms AT NO COST. Aw, yeah.
16 meals at a campus café featuring some damn good missir wat (ok, except for b-fast, of course).
10 tea/coffee breaks
4 roundtrips in a barely serviceable boat to get everybody across the Blue Nile and make our way to the Blue Nile Falls and back
1 bumpy bus ride with countless lomis and plastic bags distributed to puking girls
A million pictures taken by awesome photographer/PCV Brendan.
What did I do, you ask? Well, as we held camp at my university, I acted as Logistics Officer, meaning I coordinated housing, food, and transportation, among other things. I also coordinated the half a day of University activities, which included a campus photo scavenger hunt and a lunch panel with female faculty members, as well as a short IT session taught by Sher and The Good Doctor.
Because of my role as LO, I wasn’t with the girls as much as I would’ve liked to be. Or maybe I was with them just enough, who knows.
Either way, here are some of the week’s highlights for me:
Fikirte Addis of Yefikir Design – The fashion designer came and gave an inspirational talk to the girls. They absolutely loved it. She graciously stayed for our evening activity, a fashion show competition, and acted as a judge. It was a huge hit.
Parasite Drama – The Good Doctor and Helen created an amazing play to inform the girls about giardia, hookworm and tapeworm. I got to play the hookworm. Again, the girls absolutely loved it.
Talent Show – Even the shyest of the girls participated in the talent show. Poems were read, assorted dances were danced, songs were sung, bodies were, er, tumbled, and some footballs were kicked. We counselors took a stab at singing a song (Bruno Mars) to the girls with mixed results. Overall, lots of talent on display. From the girls, anyway.
Piñata smash – Amazing PCV Chelsey made a piñata that had negative statistics about women in Ethiopia written on the outside. Each girl read an “I am a strong woman because…” statement before taking a big wack at it. They wacked until they broke that piñata. So empowering. I got chills hearing some of the statements. These girls are amazing.
RUMPS – The campers learned how to make re-usable menstrual pads. I know it might not sound so great, but these can make a huge difference in the lives of girls, as many girls in Ethiopia can’t afford pads and don’t go to school while they have their periods. They used locally available materials and can now teach others in their communities how to do it. Sustainability? Check.
Overall, camp was challenging and exhausting, but it was an fantastically fulfilling experience. I think the campers loved it as much as we did.
And I learned one important thing: Those campers are no kids; they’re strong woman.
If you want to see more pictures of these amazing girls – er, women — check out my facebook album.