Another school year is underway at Bright Hope. We are looking forward to a great year of learning!
Are you passionate about helping Every Girl Counts and you're thinking about purchasing or selling a home in the near future? If you said YES, Location Williamson at Keller Williams Realty has an EXCITING way for you to show your support for Every Girl Counts while preparing to purchase or sell your home.
During the month of December 2016, Location Williamson will donate $500 to Every Girl Counts for every new listing and/or buyer client that signs on with the team this month.
Find all the details and how you can get involved HERE.
If you've every trained for and run a half or full marathon, you know how hard the training, racing and post-race are. Running a 5k is a much better bet and here's why:
1. Training: You can train for a 5k and still have a life. Or you can not train for a 5k and still have a life. We're not going to tell you how to live your life. But let's face it, most of us get tired just thinking about training for a 1/2 marathon.
2. Budget: The race costs only $37, and for that you get a race shirt, a finisher medal and the best Mac and Cheese you’ll eat from Dan’s Gourmet Mac and Cheese. So head on over and register yourself and a friend or two, or five. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/every-girl-counts-fall-classic-tickets-25233472997?aff=eac2
3. Staycation: Looking for something to do over Fall Break? Its fun for the whole family. For each adult 5k entry you get a Kids 1 Mile Fun Run for FREE!(Parenting tip: it's a great way to wear out the rugrats for the rest of the afternoon, so you can catch up on that Flip or Flop marathon on HGTV.)
4. Style: If you ever ran a half or full marathon, you probably had water bottles, gels, bars, fuel belts and Vaseline stains... You'll need NONE OF THAT for a 5k. So ditch that goofy runners fanny pack and wear whatever you want. You can even run a 5k in jorts and not get chaffed. Just trust me on this one. 5k for the win!
5. Time: With a race start time of 8 am you’ll still be ale to make your Saturday trip to the mall, that soccer game and stop at the store for your favorite evening beverage. Plus, like we said earlier, it takes less time to train for a 5k than it does a half or full marathon. And time is money. So we're basically paying you to run this thing. You're welcome.
In our final couple of days in Nairobi, there was much to be done and many to be loved. I'm inspired by the Desmond Tutu quote, “Do your little bit of good where you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world”. That’s exactly what we set about doing this week, a little bit of good...... and WE were the ones overwhelmed--by the stories of perseverance, determination and giving back.
We wrapped up our week with washing the feet of the girls in the Mentorship program and then surprising them with a gift of sanitary pads! The girls were beyond excited and oohed and ahhed, and clapped and squealed with joy! It was priceless! Georgia’s sponsor Beautiful Feet gave Cobian sandals to the girls and we washed their feet as a demonstration of love just as Jesus had washed the disciples feet.
Before the conclusion of our morning, we gave each girl a large package of sanitary pads that had been collected for Every Girl Counts by the girls ministry at Brentwood Baptist Church. After graduation from secondary school, these girls also graduated from the program that supplied them monthly sanitary pads and we were so excited to help them in this very tangible way. I was educated on the struggle girls have each month when they have their periods....by a male Swahiba staff member. I LOVE how these young men aren’t embarrased to talk about what girls go through each month, but rather aim to be a part of the solution. Depending on where in Kenya these girls live and what their resources are, girls use anything from chicken feathers to dirty rags in place of sanitary pads which they cannot afford. I’m so proud young girls in Tennessee, almost half a world away, came together to give to other girls in need. Its the ripple effect.....girls in TN giving to girls in Kenya, who were then challenged to find a way to show love to someone.
While the week flew by and there is still so much need, I am reminded to keep doing what I can with what I have. As Anne Frank said, “No one ever became poor by giving” and I am all the richer from the experiences of this week. Many thanks to Peter Abungu and his staff at Swahiba Youth Networks as well as supporters of Every Girl Counts who contributed financially to the work in the Kibera community.
For girls in Kibera, education is the most important way to provide a way out of poverty. The girls here are much like girls in America and have dreams and aspirations for what they want to do in life. Some have said they want to be lawyers, accountants, engineers and teachers. Attaining these dreams will prove more difficult and require more hard work, but I'm confident these girls will do what they set out to do. That's why I'm so excited to get Hope Academy built--to start educating girls and provide a way for a better future. So yesterday was especially exciting and encouraging to visit the site for the future school. I was especially excited for Britt to see the property--she's spent the last year and a half helping us file our paperwork for our 501(c)3 status and has heard me talk about the school. After seeing the land, we met the oldest son, Francis, of the old gentleman that is selling us the property. He had recently built a house with his wife on adjacent property and was busy planting vegetables in a small patch of dirt. He said his 11 month old daughter had recently passed away. From Rotovirus. It was so heartbreaking to hear she died of a treatable illness that doesn't have to be fatal......my kids have had rotovirus. It was heartbreaking.
Our afternoon was spent offering words of encouragement and challenging the over 40 girls involved in Swahiba's Mentorship and Empowerment Program. We started off by having a drawing for the awesome peach t-shirts that Georgia's sponsor TEAM PHUN sent with us. The girls were so excited to win something! Britt, Georgia and I each shared a bit and really challenged them to work hard, go after their dreams, focus on healthy relationships and make an impact in their communities. They took notes and listened attentively and I'm looking forward to following up with them in the next few months to see what successes they have achieved.
Today we visited a girl involved in Swahiba's Mentorship Program and delivered a food basket. Her name was Caroline and she was simply precious. Her aunt sent her through secondary school and she hopes to learn a skill and find capital to start her own business so she can save to put herself through University. I was so encouraged by this young girl's positive attitude and determination to do something great in life!
After visiting Caroline and making a stop in the bone jewelry factory, we were off to the Kabete Young Offenders Reception Center. Here approxiately 75 boys ranging in age from 10 to 17 were being rehabilitated to hopefully turn their troubled lives around before it is too late. We played games and they all wanted to be in the group with the Muzungu, or white person. They laughed and played, listened attentively in group time, and inhaled their hotdog and juice snacks just like any other boy their age and it was easy to momentarily forget their troubled pasts that had brought them their.
One more day in Kenya and then back to America to brainstorm new ways to show more love in this country I've come to love.
Today was another incredible day! We sorted the sanitary pads that were so graciously collected as part of Brentwood Baptist's Snowball girls ministry retreat. We also sorted the 69 pair of sandals donated by Georgia's surfing sponsor Beautiful Feet. Beautiful Feet also made a monetary donation to Georgia and these funds were used to purchase tennis shoes from a local Kenyan shoe manufacturer.
We visited Cheryl's Childrens Home and washed their feet and gave them their new shoes. They were so sweet and excited to be the recipients of such a gift. The 19 girls in grades 7 and 8 also received a box of sanitary pads.
Last year as part of our Empower initiative, Every Girl Counts provided a young mother with the gift of a sewing machine so she could earn an income to help support her family. Last year's recipient was a young woman named Lucy. Lucy is the mother of three young children ages 6, 5 and 3. Her husband works as a carpenter. Lucy has worked hard over the past year to build her tailoring business and payed it forward by apprenticing a young girl named Elizabeth over the last year. Elizabeth is the 2014 recipient of a sewing machine from Every Girl Counts. Elizabeth was orphaned from a very early age and moved to Nairobi to live with her aunt. Her aunt sent her to a sewing class where she first learned to sew. Elizabeth became pregnant in the 7th grade and is presently 19 years old and the mother of a beautiful baby boy that is 11 months old. Elizabeth will use the next few months to continue to apprentice under Lucy and eventually hopes to have her own shop. Lucy had told Elizabeth what the sewing machine had done for her family and Elizabeth began to train with Lucy! We were thrilled to hear that women were helping women and were empowering each other!
Few things can make me evaluate my perspective on life and inspire me more than spending quality time with the young women trying to make a living in the poverty of the Kibera slum. Today was such a day for a stark reminder of how much I have in life to be thankful for and what I can do with what I have to make a difference in the whorl and the lives of those around me. One of the new initiatives of Every Girl Counts is Empowering young girls living in the slums through small businesses like jewelry making and sewing. Today we had the privilege of meting four young women ranting in age from 21 to 24 who are skilled in the craft of jewelry making. Every Girl Counts has chosen to invest in these young women to empower them to earn money to support themselves without having to turn to something like prostitution to make ends meet. So after lengthy negotiation and crunching the numbers, we collectively came to an agreement that the girls will spend the next 3 days making various unique, handmade bracelets, necklaces and earrings that we will bring back home to sell at a profit and subsequently reinvest 100% of the money back into empowering other young women. Simply put, its a cycle of women helping women.
It was very insightful today to be reminded that sometimes all a girl needs is someone to believe in their potential and give them the chance to do better, to be better. Many of the girls we talk to from the slum share the same sentiments…they've been told more often than not that they are unworthy, unimportant and incapable. It was inspiring to see the hope on their faces as we discussed providing them an opportunity to succeed. Although I'll never have any idea of how difficult it is to be a girl living in one of the largest slums on Earth, as a woman I can relate to their desire to become better, take care of their families and make a difference with their life. Empowerment of women is really about offering them hope. On Friday, when we receive the items from these women, that hope will take the snap of a beautifully crafted piece of jewelry. Yes, money will change hands, but the currency is greater than the US Dollar or the Kenyan shilling…the currency is love.