People stretched as far as I could see. Young, old and every age in between, all standing in lines for hours to receive food. What most shocked me was the number of children. There were just so many of them. So many hungry eyes.
Engaging in sports intrinsically makes you more mindful about your body. You may start speculating how to be healthier – a good entry point for inquiring about your general well-being. For adolescent girls in marginalised communities, these questions can lead to discussions about more sensitive topics, particularly sexual and reproductive health.
Around 20 girls sit in a small room, decorated with messages about leadership, reproductive health and family planning along with pictures they have drawn themselves. This is a BRAC Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) club. This particular club called Bwebajja is located in a semi-urban area, under BRAC’s Kajjansi branch in Uganda. Huddled together, the girls look up at us, muzungus (foreigners) with awe and anticipation. They know who we are. They know BRAC. They call it “Blaca.”
Meet Sonya –an 18 year-old girl living in Narayanganj, Bangladesh. Sonya lives a typical Bengali lifestyle; she enjoys the park with her friends and helps her parents with chores. But Sonya isn't typical. At an age when girls are often expected to get married, she is breaking gender stereotypes, instilling confidence, and empowering a new generation of girls… all through her love for karate. Sonya is among a group of girls who are taking part in BRAC’s Adolescent Development Program where they are mentored in life skills, in this case, through the art of karate.
Today, Jasmine Lamb launched a campaign on her blog, allislistening.com, to raise over $5,000 for BRAC's adolescent girls program in Bangladesh by Thanksgiving. Jasmine heard about The Girl Effect and BRAC's programs from a friend and connected with the powerful message of investing in young girls. BRAC's Social and Financial Empowerment of Adolescents project (SOFEA) is an initiative aimed at providing girls with financial and social support to enable them to empower themselves. The program gives girls a safe space to socialize while providing them with life skills training, livelihood training, financial literacy training, and small loans to start income-generating activities.
Below is a post from Crystal Chen of The MasterCard Foundation, one of BRAC's partners. She's currently visiting BRAC's programs in Uganda along with other members of the MasterCard team. She wrote this after visiting one of the girls clubs in our Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents (ELA) Program.
The Haiti Adolescent Girls Network, a coalition of humanitarian organizations cofounded by AmeriCares and the Population Council and including BRAC affiliate BRAC USA, today received high level recognition for its efforts to reduce girls’ risks of poverty, violence and rape. The Network’s exemplary collaboration and commitment to empower and protect Haitian girls was featured during the opening plenary session of the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting held in New York City.