Global Girl Project (GGP) partnered with a non-profit organization in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, called Favela Street Girls, to provide a two-month exchange program for young women. This exchange brought one young woman, Drika, who grew up in one of the favelas in Northern Rio, to Los Angeles for an educational/cultural exchange program. While in the U.S. our participant lived with a host family, attended a local high school, and participated in twice-weekly workshops that focused on community development. During her stay here our participant formed a strong and lasting bond with her host family, learned a good amount of English, and began to investigate and understand the issues affecting her community back home in Rio. Once back in Brazil our participant received another opportunity for world travel and lived in the U.K. for two months while she studied English. Upon returning home from England Drika implemented her Community Service Project, which was developed in Los Angeles, and continues to work with 20 young women in the Complexo de Penha favela. Drika runs soccer trainings and life skills workshops.
In our second year GGP collaborated with the NGO Soccer Girls Inc., located in Vidigal, Brazil. Jointly we chose another amazing young woman from their soccer program to participate as GGP's second scholar. Thaynara came to the U.S. in January/February/March of 2016 and lived with a host family while attending Star Prep Academy. Thaynara made friends quickly with the students at this award winning high school and she shared with them her experiences as a young woman living in a favela in Rio. Thaynara also developed her own community service project called Meninas em Açao (Girls in Action). Thaynara is leading a group of teenage girls in running weekly community offerings such as neighbourhood clean up, and children's reading circles.
It has always been GGP's goal to expand our reach to one new country each year, so in our second year we collaborated with the NGO Foundation TOYA, a literacy organization located in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. After careful assessment two girls were chosen to join Thaynara, from Brazil, to travel to the U.S. in January 2016. Jessy and Sarah were so excited for this opportunity, but unfortunately, due to political issues that affected immigration policies GGP was unable to secure tourist visas for our two Haitian scholars. Instead, our Director travelled to Port-au-Prince and worked collaboratively with Foundation TOYA to deliver our 16 class curriculum to the girls directly. Jessy and Sarah are now working tirelessly to implement their community service projects, that were developed during these training sessions with GGP. Jessy is facilitating a Mural project with a group of teens from her community to teach them basic art skills and to beautify their low-income neighbourhood. Sarah has implemented a weekly discussion group with younger children from her community, to talk about and address gender inequality issues within Haiti. GGP is absolutely blown away by the determination of Sarah and Jessy!! At Global Girl Project we model for our girls, the importance of never giving up on your dreams. So in 2016 we made a second attempt to secure passports and visas for two more young women from Foundation TOYA. After success in acquiring passports for both girls we moved onto visa appointments at the U.S. Embassy. Unfortunately, due to political situations outside of our control, we were once again refused tourist visas for our girls. Stay tuned for future plans to address this ongoing challenge of stereotyping and discrimination.
In keeping to our intial goal of yearly growth Global Girl Project expanded into India as we entered into our third year of changing the world one girl at a time. GGP is collaboraing with an NGO called Kranti, that works with the daughters of sex workers in Mumbai's red light district. In February and March of 2017 Sumaiya, Shraddha, and Rani all travelled from Mumbai to Los Angeles to participate as our third cohort of exchange scholars. While in Los Angeles our scholars formed close and lasting relationships with their peers at Star Prep Academy and with their extremely dedicated host families, and in addition learned practical tools on how to create sustainable social change within their communities back home. Now Sum, Shraddha and Rani are back in Mumbai and all three girls have already started to implement their own individual community projects. Sum is interviewing members of Mumbai's often marginalized LGBTQ community and creating a blog of their stories. Shraddha is planning a mural project with young kids from a local group home, and Rani is going to run a two-month dance expression class for girls in her community. Stay tuned to our Blog for monthly updates!!
Sierra Leone Exchanges
As Global Girl Project has entered into our fourth year we have chosen to continue to move eastward in our growth, and have formed a partnership with an NGO in the very small, rural village of Bumpe, Sierra Leone. For our 2018 exchange cohort we are very excited and grateful for our new collaboration with Sierra Leone Rising. This organization continues to do life-changing work with young people, and especially young women within the Bumpe Chiefdom. During this past March our Director travelled to Bumpe to interview 10 potential Global Girl Project Scholars and learn, first hand, about the lives of our girls and their families. Through these interviews it was evident that the issues of teen pregnancy, early marriage, and lack of education for girls are at the forefront of what our global girls want to change in their village. We are pleased to introduce you to Josephine and Alice, who will be joining our other scholars from Haiti and India, in the spring of 2018, to learn how to become agents of change in their own communities and be a part of making a difference, globally.