On May 12th – 15th, Global Sojourns Giving Circle’s supporters and partners came together from South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the United States to connect and share during the 3rd GSGC Partners Summit in Livingstone, Zambia. With the focus of girl empowerment, the partners shared their expertise and actions ranging from drumming circles to designing unique and highly effective reusable menstrual pads and honing in on art skills. It was a space to share, learn, support, reflect, and plan for the future.
The primary goal was to bring everyone together to share “lessons learned”, including successes and challenges and to learn from one another. Every girl is different and there are many obstacles within the community so approaches need to be versatile. GSGC’s partner in Mfuwe, Zambia, Project Luwanga, has had a multitude of success reinventing reusable menstrual pads that are lightweight and effective, not only giving girls an economic and effective way to manage their menstrual hygiene, but also educating them about reproductive health. As the project is completely locally run, it serves as a connection point within the communities. Justin, who works to connect troubled youth with music in the townships outside of Cape Town, emphasized the importance of community buy-in and using many different forms of expressions to teach life skills. It is through creativity, a variety of approaches, listening and support that change can happen. Though it isn’t easy, the partners, though their love and care, lay a foundation of support for girls who can change themselves and their communities.
Information on counseling and support was also shared to help our partners handle the many issues that the girls face. Issues discussed included the necessity of confidentiality, the cycle of change, working within the cultural contexts, and different strategies to practice self-care while working in the field. As the partners move forward, acting as leaders in their communities and offering safe spaces to the girls, they were given resources to refine their programs and teach the girls essential skills that will support their goals and ambitions.
The summit served as a place of support as everyone moves forward in this life changing work. Agnes, a partner in Livingston, Zimbabwe reflected that,
“all the other participants, and GSGC partners, [are] really special souls. Listening to their stories and learning the dos and don’ts, their successes, and failures and seeing just how much they do [was] very inspiring.”
Sazie, who runs several different girls groups each week in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, remarked that
“Sharing with other partners [about] their activities was most beneficial as it enabled me to learn from things that I can give to the girls.”
As Fwilane of Project Luwanga remarked on her way home,
“I really appreciate all your great efforts. Thanks for letting me be a part of the Summit… it has been amazing.”