Powerful Volunteers, Powerful Girls
Volunteer Emme shares her experience at NPH Honduras as the coordinator of the all-female youth groups.
June 19, 2018 - Honduras
Who run the world? Girls!
This may have been a global hit in the mid-2000’s by Beyoncé, but it resonates as a theme among many worldwide organizations. I am currently a volunteer for the Chicas Poderosas (Powerful Girls) program – an all female youth group – at Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos™ in Honduras. The goal of the Chicas Poderosas program, or my interpretation of it, is to create a space for girls to feel that who they are as individuals is enough. I work with them on their values, esteem, breaking gender norms, leadership skills, and group interactions, as well as their overall interaction with their community. Each Chicas group is planned according to its members and how they will best interpret the various workshops.
I currently have three groups of girls divided into each group based on their maturity level, which I have been observing over the past few months. Recently, I introduced a new group to the Chicas program. This group is specifically tailored for girls with disabilities, and we meet for an hour every week.
Before implementing this new group, some of the higher functioning and cognitively able girls with disabilities participated in existing Chicas groups. However, I realized that to feel successful and enjoy activities, they needed more one-on-one attention and support than they were receiving. In moving the girls and creating a new group, I can now put them in leadership roles since they are better equipped mentally and physically to further their personal development. Also, by creating a place for the girls with physical and mental disabilities, it helps to provide stimulation that is different from what they normally receive.
The activities I have done range from free art using different mediums like paint or markers, to making musical instruments out of rice and cups. A bigger project that I will start with the girls is a garden that they will have the responsibility to maintain and watch grow. My overarching goal for this particular group is for the girls to feel that they are capable and help them grow in their self confidence.
The importance of Chicas groups is reiterated by the program’s expansion into communities surrounding the Ranch. These communities include Mata de Platano (a small town in the mountains), Guangololo, and Talanga (where NPH has also partnered to establish a soup kitchen). In each of these communities, the gender norms for women are incredibly strong. There are cases of young girls marrying and having children at young ages, as well as an expectation that as women they will be automatically be subordinate to the males in their lives. The purpose of our workshops is to show the girls that they are important, that their voices matter, that they have a role to play in their own lives, and that they can create the life that they truly want to live. We try to help them discover their value through discussions, art, and dynamic activities.
During the past year one of the many tidbits that I have gathered from my work with the groups is the importance of even the tiniest success. It is the timid hand that a girl raises for the first time to share what she wrote down, it is the silent but beautiful accumulation of art that magically starts to appear on the walls in the classroom, it is questions to help lead groups and come up with lesson plans, it is the desire to change and grow through more one-on-one time, and finally it is the attendance of the girls who continue to show up at the door 20 minutes early because the room has become to symbolize their space, the Chicas Poderosas Club House.