In the best of circumstances, being a teenager can be tough. I remember playing Barry Manilow records (yes, really!) over and over just to cry. (Oh, Mandy…) When you live in the slum, have been abused or exploited, struggle to find food, and possibly have a baby already, it’s a minefield to navigate.
Each week, on Friday, we host Strong Minds, which is an all-students gathering that then breaks up into smaller groups. Our staff, like Damalie above, lead the girls in discussion and teach strategies for resilience and healing.
On Saturday, we have Turning Point, which is open to the community and not just our girls. This public gathering is open to all questions and sometimes lasts for hours as girls have discussions on topics they aren’t told about elsewhere.
Our social worker Sarah, house mother Mama Santa, and our teachers also regularly engage the girls one-on-one to help them with struggles. Santa, Betty, Derrick, and Ronald all help with money and financial issues and questions and help the girls learn to save for their future.
No questions are off the table. They only heal when they can talk and question.
Our goal is a sustainable future, and that doesn’t just mean that a girl can work her trade. It means she can raise confident children. She can resist the kind of exploitation that targets teen girls and women in the slum because she knows her value. She doesn’t engage in behaviors that harm her or her children because she has healed.
None of this is possible without trust, without diving deep, without a shared life of joy, tears, laughter, and friendship. It takes time. It takes commitment. It takes asking hard questions and listening to hard answers. It takes a vision of the future that is both felt and shared.
I’m immensely proud of our staff, both women and men, who are committed to changing the culture surrounding the treatment of girls and women. Change is slow, but it starts with a dedicated group of young people who want a better life for themselves and their community.
Thank you for joining us in this journey. We are very grateful for your support — you are making a difference every day.
PS Teen mom Jackie’s project for hairdressing supplies is 80% funded – we just need $55 for it to be complete. We’d love your help today! Click below!