|Camp GLOW campers with the Queen of Lesotho|
Over the last eight months or so, I have been working on Camp GLOW. GLOW, which stands for Girls Leading Our World, is a global Peace Corps program. Its vision is to empower young women to become leaders in their communities with six goals: gender equality, self esteem, leadership, health, aspiration, and volunteerism.
Our camp was the largest such undertaking in Lesotho thus far. The multi-district camp began last year with PCVs who have since completed their service. They passed it on to us and we significantly expanded on their successes last year. Working with three other PCVs, two representatives from the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sport, and Recreation, one from the Ministry of Social Development, and one teacher from a school that participated last year, we met regularly to ensure schools were invited to participate, the grant was written, more local partners were found, and the school was ready to be turned into a camp for five days. Despite years in similar programming, I had never planned a program for a site not designed for said programming. It was overwhelming the number of additional details required when turning a school into a camp site for a week!
Obviously, we accomplished it. Last Friday, just over twenty PCVs and Basotho staff arrived for our staff training. Then, before we were ready, it was Saturday and girls began arriving. Despite being exhausted before camp even began, it was impossible not to be energized by the enthusiasm of the girls. As each taxi arrived, the girls would pile out with shouts, dancing, and hugs!
In no time, camp was in full swing. The young women participated in sessions to help them reach the six goals of GLOW. At the same time, an advisor from each school participated in training sessions to help them adapt to leading such a dynamic club in a manner quite different from teaching here.
|The Programming Directors and my|
awaiting the Queen's arrival.
|Career Panel speakers and organizers.|
|The Advisors with their certificates|
showing completion of their training.
In all of the chaos that ensued our final morning as we prepared to change the site from camp back to school, prepared 250 campers, advisors, and staff for departure, and prepared for the arrival of our incredibly distinguished guests, it was too easy for me to focus on the right now. But this camp was not about right now. Everything we stressed with the campers and the advisors was focused on the future. Camp was not simply about five incredible days, it was about returning to school and starting a GLOW club to teach the same lessons and activities to other girls. It was about young women deciding they can determine their own future. They can set goals and achieve them. They can serve as leaders in their communities. They can.
|'M'e Masenate Mohato Seeiso bestow certificates to the|
GLOW Junior Counselors.
When I took all of this on a year ago, I had no idea how big it would become. I have reached a point of exhaustion not encountered in years. My voice is trying not to disappear entirely. I spent five nights sleeping on a thin mattress on the cement floor of a computer lab with twenty other women. And, I am still overwhelmed by the amount of reporting and paperwork I need to do in order to fully close out the camp and the grant from Peace Corps that made it all possible, but it was definitely worth it.
|Campers do Grassroot Soccer Activities with Torle and her counterpart Maseru|
|Campers participate in a session on Sexual and Reproductive Health|
|Camp Staff, Junior Counselors, and distinguished guests after the closing ceremony|
I must give huge thanks to the camp staff, the campers, the schools, the principals, the advisors, the distinguished guests who helped close camp, and especially my partners on the Camp Planning Committee. A project this big could never have succeeded without their help!