In June of 2017, GSGC will host all 11 of our girls club Aunties at an educational workshop in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. We are thrilled that Donna Rasin-Waters, Ph.D., has volunteered to facilitate the forum, sharing her professional expertise in trauma counseling with the Aunties.
The idea of the forum drew enthusiastic support on the ground in Africa, so GSGC scrambled to cover expenses. Rasin-Waters threw the funding challenge out to her network of friends, and an amazing woman joined our circle. Rev. Therese Bimka, LCSW, will help fund the Auntie Summit to honor her mother, Eva Bimka, whose love of learning survived her own personal horrors during World War II.
Many Americans, having grown up in privileged times, find it hard to conceive the traumas of WWII, or to imagine the challenges that some girls in Southern Africa face today. Eva Bimka’s story offers a poignant reminder.
“Nazi Germany invaded my mother’s homeland in Poland when she was 15,” said Therese. “She lost her entire family and had to survive on her own. Not long thereafter, she was captured by the Germans and sent to a forced labor camp. Six years later, at 21, she was liberated by the Americans.”
Despite having her education interrupted and not completing high school, Eva Bimka fostered a life-long appreciation for learning; she remains a model for her daughter.
“Her genuine thirst for knowledge deeply touched my heart,” added Therese. “She continued her studies by listening to the radio and learning English. By the time I was in college, her English was excellent as was her French and Yiddish, which she made a point to continue growing by consistently writing letters to our relatives abroad.”
Eva Bimka’s story is one of resiliency, and speaks to what can never be taken away from us: the human spirit that lives and can even thrive at our core, no matter the tragedies we may face.
“I love what GSGC is doing. As a therapist, trauma specialist and spiritual director, I can’t think of more important work,” offered Eva’s daughter Therese. “And now we know so much more about trauma and how to begin healing from tragic events. I wish my mom had had access to someone like Dr. Rasin-Waters.”
There are parallels. Many of the girls that GSGC supports have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; the death of their parents; HIV/AIDS; isolation and/or profound poverty.
GSGC founder Priscilla Macy sees an all-too-common pattern in their response.
“During her teenage years, a child’s life can go in a direction in which she feels she has limited value as a person,” Macy said. “But through the mentorship of the Aunties, GSGC directs a girl toward a path where she can feel good about herself, become aware of life’s possibilities, and make better decisions.”
Many, if not most, of GSGC’s Aunties have had their own challenging journey, and their current life is also a testament to resiliency. At the workshop, each will get sophisticated training from a professional, as well as an opportunity to share experiences and best practices with peers.
You’ll hear more about the Auntie Summit in the coming months, but we couldn’t be more pleased to announce the leadership of Dr. Rasin-Waters, and the continuing legacy of Eva Bimka.
Would you like to join us? Your special gift will help girls build resiliency and continue their education. Donate here.