A Reflection of My Life after living in Uganda as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer

Friday, October 29, 2010

Camp GLOW is Coming!

My girls have been selected for Camp GLOW and they are so excited! I am busy cross checking stationary store prices, asking Ugandan businesses for donations and making clear spreadsheets of counselors, staff and camper information. Now, we also want you to know more about the issues that are involved as to why a Camp GLOW is necessary.

The Problem (written by Lauren Simkulak):
Currently young girls in Uganda face very difficult odds each and every day. They are at a high risk of teen pregnancy, early marriage, lack of school fees, discrimination towards proper education and jobs, pressure of entering into sexual relationships, among a variety of other potential problems. Although times are slowly changing, the idea that girls do not need to be educated and should instead remain at home and assist with housework, cleaning, cooking and digging (farming), i.e the traditional female roles in society, still exists within Uganda’s culture. Females still hold less executive level positions than men in Uganda, and many Ugandans still believe that typical female jobs are nurses, teachers while men are doctors, businessmen, Members of Parliament, etc. This, of course, is not true for every Ugandan. But it is still a struggle for Ugandan girls to become empowered in their society, and at times even in their own homes and relationships. Young women especially have a difficult time breaking from these traditional female roles and lack the confidence, leadership skills and initiative to make good, healthy decisions for their future. History has proven that an empowered female is an integral part of development of a community and country. They are more likely to demand condom use, be able to provide for her children and achieve a higher level of education.

What is Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World)?:
Camp GLOW began in Peace Corps Romania in 1995. The goal of this camp was to encourage and inspire young women to become active citizens by building their self-esteem and confidence, increasing their self-awareness and developing their life skills in goal setting, assertiveness and career and life planning. Since 1995, many Peace Corps countries have implemented Camp GLOW or very similar camps via Peace Corps Volunteers. Uganda, until now, has had no such camp. This year will be Uganda’s inaugural Camp GLOW! It will take place from December 5-11th, 2010. And I, along with my two friends Lauren and Celeste, are the Directors of the camp.

Camp GLOW Uganda:
Specifically, the goal of our Camp GLOW is to empower young Ugandan girls (ages 13-15), provide them with new information and education and give them the opportunity to see for themselves all the possibilities they have in the future when they make good decisions. This will be accomplished through leadership training, health education, sports activities, arts and crafts, HIV/AIDS prevention and education, career outlooks and goal setting. Over 150 girls from across Uganda will be participating in the week-long camp. 30 Counselors (15 PCVs and 15 Ugandan women) will assist in guiding the girls through various sessions all week. Each day, they will participate in sessions on the prior-mentioned topics, in addition to meeting and interacting with an empowered Ugandan adult female. We have already recruited a CEO, a Member of Parliament, a musician, a medical doctor and a professor at Uganda’s national university. This will, without a doubt, be one of the most memorable parts of the camp for the girls.

What makes it sustainable?
These girls will return to their communities, form a life skills club with at least 20 new girls, with the help of their female Ugandan teacher/community worker, who also attended the camp as a Counselor, and the help of PCVs in their area. Also, the 15 Ugandan female counselors can return to their communities and teach the skills they learned at the camp to other students, teachers and colleagues.

We have applied for a US government grant and are also working with Ugandan businesses to provide the necessary money to run this camp. If you are interested further in Camp GLOW please check out our website here and if you are interested in supporting Camp GLOW look here.

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