I am not my sister's keeper, I am my sister.
My name is Pearl, I'm a UK nurse who has found herself involved in bringing medical and community volunteers to Africa. Through personal experience, I know how a single opportunity can dramatically change one's fate in a single moment
My mother, was also a nurse, she grew up in abject poverty in a poor township in Durban, South Africa. Nursing was a lifeline career that uplifted not just herself, but her entire family from poverty. Her youngest brother is now a successful doctor through her support during his school years. She also funded her two sisters and several of my cousins nursing educations. All our now medical professionals. My mother died in 2012 from cancer. At her funeral her south african colleagues came dressed in their nursing uniforms to honour their sister. Her legacy has been inked into my very fiber and is the reason why I do what I do.
In 2015 I was awarded the Edith Cavell Leadership Award and I feel a responsibility to pass on what has been gifted to me by other women who inspire me, my mother, my sister, my friends. I aspire to give young girls who much like my mother my face adversity, but have fierce potential to make it. Not just hand outs but leadership skills that they will use to reach their own goals and dreams. Perhaps they will also go on to uplift their entire families, educate their loved ones in the process and shift an entire generations fate.
Teenage girls in Arusha, Tanzania are perhaps one of the most vulnerable and impressionable in society. They are at high risk of exploitation, abuse, unwanted pregnancies and a long list of other depressing fates. They are also the least likely to be heard, the least likely to be listened to and understood. Many of these girls are looked over and overshadowed, no one asking them who they want to be, what they think or if they need help.
The Siret Leadership Academy is a small step towards opportunity for the girls in Arusha. Working together with schools in Arusha, Tanzania and parents of teenage girls we will aim to empower the girls to become self determined go getters and change makers. Working with a qualified educator who knows his community needs, we identified 15 girls aged between 13 years old and 18 years old who are facing hardship but are fiercely motivated to succeed. With their parents' blessings, they have joined us on a mission to make a difference and inspire them.
We have formulated a 12 session program that will focus on 3 major factors.
*Raising the girls level of self esteem and helping them recognise their own importance,
*Helping their girls clearly identify their immediate and future goals
*Giving the girls tools to actualise their immediate and future goals.
Many of the girls want big careers, to be a hotelier, a doctor, a lawyer, a physiotherapist. But can you believe only 4 girls have ever even used a computer? They told me computers are for rich people, not for them. They never realised the importance of basic technology skills to thrive in our fast paced, tech driven society.
I hope to encourage our girls to stay in school by funding for back to school hampers filled with uniforms, shoes, equipment and books. All our girls are crazy about books.
Some of their teachers reported many of the girls will miss classes or important exams during their monthly periods due to lack of access to sanitary products and end up falling behind. As the girls are growing and developing, uniform, shoes, sanitary products...the basics start to become impossible. University fees look impossible. Computers are not even in their wildest dreams. I would like to change that, but I need help.
I have also enlisted the help of my amazing friends who are in wide variety of careers who will be distant mentors and coach the girls during the program. The purpose is to give the girls a 'big sister' to look up to and inspire them, raise their confidence and as they approach womanhood. We already love these girls and want the very best for them and I hope to involve as many other 'big sisters' as possible.
"I am not my sister's keeper, I am my sister".
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