Meet Emily Bronstein

Seventh Grader Raising Funds to Create New Girls’ Club

Instead of gifts for her recent Bat Mitzvah, Emily Bronstein, a 7th grader from Atlanta, asked for gifts to start The Seraphine Project. Her goal is to encourage additional donations and fund a girls’ club through GSGC.

The following is taken from an interview with Emily in her school newspaper:

What inspired you to start The Seraphine Project?

It’s always filled my heart to help others. Up until now, I’ve mostly gotten involved with local projects such as making some meals for a shelter or doing special things for residents at a home for the elderly. That got me thinking about what I could do beyond my local community, but to be honest, I wasn’t sure how to get started. Lucky for me, a family friend introduced me to “Auntie Priscilla,” who created an organization to help girls in Africa called Global Sojourns Giving Circle.

I thought it was perfect because I am inspired and supported every day by female role models. I felt that if I could help these girls get mentoring and guidance similar to what has been so valuable to me, it could really make a difference in their lives. The Seraphine Project is my first attempt to use my voice and passion to raise awareness about how important it is for young girls, especially in places like Zimbabwe and Zambia, to have mentors.

How much has been raised so far? And how will the funds be used to help girls in Southern Africa?

With lots of hard work and support, I hope to raise at least $8,000. That’s because it costs about that much to fully support each “club” for a year. This includes making sure there is a safe, welcoming place to meet plus having great mentors or “aunties” who often come from far away to help out. It also includes supplies for projects and for building life or work skills. It might surprise people to know that some girls walk as far as two hours each way just to meet with their mentors. That’s how important the experience is to them.

So far I am three-fourths of the way to my goal. I am planning to write blog posts to keep people informed about the amazing things happening at the clubs. But I’m also still learning about other ways to fundraise.

What overall impact do you hope The Seraphine Project will have in Southern Africa, and what impact has it had on you and your family?

GSGC and The Seraphine Project believe we can change the future in poor, struggling villages by making sure young girls grow up to become confident, strong leaders. Women play especially big roles in these communities. So when [a girl learns new skills that will] help their families earn more money, or they decide to stay in school longer before starting a family, the community gains new role models and mentors. I love the saying, “changing lives one girl at a time.”

My family support has been awesome because they want to see me make a difference in others’ lives, and they want to make a difference, too. Later this year we will travel to Zimbabwe in order visit some clubs, spend time with the girls, and meet their mentors. We all want to see firsthand how the clubs truly work and where they need our help most. The trip also will allow me to make new friends, tell the story even better, and begin to think about the club I hope to form.

We understand you just celebrated your Bat Mitzvah. Can you tell us about the experience and what it meant to you?

Becoming a Bat Mitzvah is a rite of passage into the adult Jewish community. Getting prepared requires knowing the Hebrew alphabet, then learning over multiple years how to read and chant many prayers. The celebration itself is a one- to two-hour religious ceremony where you are responsible for leading the congregation in worship.

At my synagogue, one of the requirements of becoming a Bat Mitzvah involves performing “tikkun olam,” or acts of kindness. That’s what inspired me to do something big and special to help those in need. On a personal level, the experience itself was quite life-changing. It truly made me realize how blessed I am and what a wonderful support network I have.

I just never dreamed my Bat Mitzvah plus family, friends, Auntie Priscilla, and schoolwork would together inspire me to start The Seraphine Project. It is such a great feeling to know that I am making a difference in girls’ lives in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

My goal beyond this year is to start a [girls’ club in Africa] of my own, including planning where it will be, staying involved with the girls and mentors via Skype or WhatsApp, and making sure the girls have everything they need to succeed. I know that sounds ambitious, but making a big difference probably almost never happens easily.