One aspect of our Youth Well Being program is sponsoring girls as members of the Girl Guides. The Girl Guides are the international counterpart to our Girl Scouts of the USA, and provide leadership, education and fellowship opportunities for girls and young women around the world. The first camp out for our Nhimbe for Progress Girl Guide Troop in Mhondoro, Zimbabwe was in April 2010, during Jaiaen’s annual visit. September 2010 was the 2nd camp out, and December was the 3rd.
The Girl Guides program structure suggests they camp out 3 times a year. We decided to use our Community Center since its a ‘free’ space and the children’s safety is assured. The girls are very appreciative of this opportunity to be away from home for the first time without a relative nearby; normally they would not have any kind of “sleep over” experience. Their universe is expanding.
The retreat is run for 3 days and 2 nights. It is led by our Youth Well Being leaders and assisted by all of the Nhimbe volunteers who run our programs. An ambuya (elder woman) or two often visit to offer some in-depth female cultural experience and information. The girls bring some food to contribute, a blanket for sleeping, and a bag of clothing changes. In addition to participating in Girl Guide activities during the weekend, the girls cook, wash their own clothes, study traditional ways, and play music and games. For $12 a year you can send one girl to all 3 retreat opportunities for this year! These Teen Care camps are a perfect balancing point to help girls who might be headed towards rebellion find a place of solace and let go of their frustrations, all with opportunity for growth, friendship, and mentoring.
What an incredible opportunity for the girls! Three times a year they are able to camp. This means all types of weather. They were able to camp August 5-7th in 2016 which, although our summer, is their winter. During the winter camps we purchase firewood to make sure they are warm and cozy before going to bed. There were 89 girls at this camp, which includes brownies, rangers and guides.
In 2018 during Jaiaen’s March visit, the number jumped up to 235 as new girls were invited from neighboring schools. Many local residents, the local councilor, and local food vendors, all contributed to help make this happen. We were blessed with donations of flannel from North American donors that trip and so some of the monies normally being used for the MMC package fabrics, was able to shift to assist with the unexpected ferrying of the girls, as they could not walk that many kilometers with bedrolls etc. We hadn’t really thought about all of the implications of inviting the schools from farther away, nor did we expect such a huge turnout!
Please read on to see if you help us with our camping endeavor. There is a great deal involved in being able to provide the girls with 2 nights and 3 days of food and activities. There is something so very wholesome about being able to gather together and learn how to work as a team, without parents present. Its delightful!
Girl’s 3-day Camps, 3 times a year!Our Youth Well Being camps (CURRENTLY SUSPENDED DUE TO COVID-19) provide interested girls of all ages with three days of activities and meals, three times a year. This is a special place where they can learn how to cope with modern concerns, such as HIV, teen pregnancy, and child-marriage, as well as ancient common problems like peer pressure and predators. Girls are coming from over a dozen schools, (all Nhimbe villages as well as six additional schools from the next chief’s region, including a community college). With $12 you can send one girl to all three camps! Thank you!
Our food budget entails purchases of beef, chicken, rice, potatoes, tomatoes, tea, oil, salt, sugar, beverage and biscuits. The girls are always involved with all aspects of the food’s preparation and cooking (yes, over a campfire), as well as clean up (yes, no running water).
The girls go on nature walks, and spend time sewing, gardening, learning leadership skills, playing games, and sharing poems. Here in this picture they are arriving and very ready for a great break from the stresses of everyday life.
Research has shown that play is a critical way to assist children who are suffering due to the trauma of war, excess relocation, economic collapse, etc. and so our camps are serving a huge need.
There are many activities including music and dance. In 2016 they began learning the Jerusalem dance as a new idea. We are used to seeing them do the Muchongoyo dance and so this was something innovative from the leaders that year.
Check out this link to see the Girls Dancing!
See the Girl Guides song Be Prepared, Lend a Hand, This is Our Motto
They also sing cultural songs – Check this out…clips were sent using Whatsapp on August 5th 2016!
Of great importance is that they will have some special time with hurukuro natete which is a unique session where the girls get to talk to the elders (the tetes – aunties) about all of those personal and intimate things they are not supposed to discuss with parents. Culturally its inappropriate to bring certain information to your parents, like questions about your sexuality, boys, dating, and monthly concerns.
We started Hurukuro Natete during Jaiaen’s visit in March of 2016 to make sure that all girls have someone with whom to talk. Traditionally the aunties were around within walking distance, but now with the extended families being split up, because of so much moving around, a girl may have no one. You might wonder why there is so much movement. And why there aren’t aunties for the girls. Here are a few of the reasons:
- The Land Redistribution gave each family a piece of land that they could go to and start a farm. This means that they are not near their rural home.
- There is an estimated 95% unemployment rate and so, many people are moving about the country looking for any way to make money or at least feed their family.
- There is an incredible loss of family generations due to death. This means that aunties have passed away and the children may be able to go to a grand parent, if they are living nearby, but otherwise, have no aunt.
- This loss of life also means that a girl may be living with her father if her mother passed on, and that is also not a solution for discussing personal concerns.
How Might You Help?
In 2016 we were able to run these camps because of a seed donation from a local Lacomb, Oregon, Girl Scout Troops #21317 and #20326, but funds are regularly stretched to be able to take all the girls each holiday season. The Zimbabwe school system takes 1 month off every 3 months in between the terms, so this is considered a holiday.