Three clubs, three venues
During the Auntie Summit, participants visited three Victoria Falls-area girls clubs. Each site is unique, but all of the GSGC Aunties find a way to create safe spaces in which girls can meet, share and learn.
The ultimate club room was Sima’s Rose of Charity site, located in Sizinda – a rural area reached by a long, bumpy, dirt road. The girls enjoy their own private room inside an orphanage setting. It’s quite secluded, and club members tend to hang out there even when there isn’t a meeting. They often share news of their lives with each other and the Aunties by sending notes through a system of envelopes that stay tacked on the wall.
Shorai and Sfe’s club meets just outside of town and opposite the airport, an area rife with bars, nightclubs, and prostitution. Here, men prey on girls. The club leaders are the only married couple in this area, which is “infested with drunkards.” To reach the thatched-roof clubhouse located on the Headman’s homestead, girls walk through a bar. Despite the clubhouse’s challenges, it is private, and the Headman himself is a strong supporter of improving girls lives – something we cannot always expect.
Procedure’s club, Girls Time, meets in a school classroom in town. The room is noisy; loud music and the sounds of auto and foot traffic can filter in from outside. Although safe, it’s a challenging environment in which to meet – especially when there are confidential issues to discuss. Just as it would be in the U.S., boys sometimes peep through the windows and tease the girls. Privacy is lacking in this multi-purpose room.
Dr. Rasin-Waters expressed support for all of GSGC’s club sites, and encouraged the Aunties to be patient with their own group’s needs.
“I have never seen a program start out with a great space,” she said. “But if we connect with the communities and get buy-in, then the spaces will follow.”
The Aunties’ goals for their own club’s future meeting sites are not extravagant:
- A permanent, private room that can be locked
- A space where girls can come and go, and feel they belong
- Walls on which the girls’ projects can be displayed
- Free of external disturbances, but the girls can make noise if they want
- Outside of a school setting, which can be inhibiting.
” I am so happy to belong to my club,” offered one young girl the Aunties spoke with. “I have learnt how to believe in myself and how to behave, how to sing and dance.”
The background noise was loud – and the girl’s voice so soft – it was hard for them to hear her.