22 February 2012

GLADI SL: Part 2

Do you know what the symptoms of Syphilis are? What should you do if you have Syphilis? How do you get Syphilis? Those were just some of the questions the girls were asked the morning of GLADI SL Day Two. We started out with an intensive talk about sexual transmitted disease, including symptoms, how they are treated and how they are transmitted. My colleagues played some fun games with the symptoms getting the girls moving around the room.

After the game and getting them sweating a bit, it was time for a rest and a small mid morning snack of bananas. However, they were not to eat. Proper condom is a preventive, realistic way to stay clean from all the STIs they girls had just learned about. But it won’t work unless you know how to use it. Each girl was armed with a banana, a condom and a detailed demonstration on how to proper use that condom. This of course bought on lots of giggles but in they end every girl wanted to show their PCV teacher that they did it.

As head of “logistics” I was running around in the back ground of Girls Conference making sure that everything ran smoothly. Day two I wanted to make sure to sit down with my girls after many of the sessions. Before I could get them all rounded up after the STI/Condom session one of my girls came running up through the crowd. “Miss Allison, I never knew how condoms work or how to put one on before, it used to scare me,” said 14 year old Mahawa Bamakpa. I knew then that some change was happening.

In Sierra Leone, they always talk about “50/50”, men and women as equals. Most of the girls are aware of what gender equality is but do they understand why it is important or in what ways they can work towards gender equality. They didn’t know women do about 66% of the world's work in return for less than 5% of its income or that by educating a girl one year beyond the national average boosts her earning power 10-20 percent. They were broken up into groups and given scenarios of gender inequality. Each group worked through the scenarios doing a brainstorming on how to make the scenario equal.

After GLADI SL, the girls are supposed to bring its message back to their friends, family, schools and communities. As the end of the educational sessions, the girls had to sit down together and think of creative ways on how they are going to tell their communities what was learned at Girls Conference. Harford Girls decided that the best way to reach the most people is to utilize the radio. My girls are currently producing “Girls Conference Radio” to spread the message alongside multiple presentations at morning assembly to the rest of the student body. GLADI SL was closed with the giving of certificates accrediting the participants as peer mentors, t-shirts, the sounds of Shady Baby and lots of dancing.

Girls Conference was a monumental experience for me and it’s hard to express the joy it was to work on such an undertaking with my PCV colleagues. Change became tangible; I witnessed it with my own eyes. Mahawa said when I asked her about what change does she want to make, she replied, “I will finish my education before having sex to prevent getting pregnant.”  These girls were transformed and I can only hope they continue to educate others and spread the message. Girls can lead and develop Sierra Leone, educating girls and empowering communities.

I want to personally thank all of those you who supported the success of GLADI SL in anyway whether monetary, verbal words of encouragement or by spiritual vigilance…Thank you!

I want to dedicate the success and experience of GLADI SL to my Grandma Norma and all those strong women in my life who first taught me even as a girl you can still break barriers, blaze a trail forward and do anything that the boys can do.  -Alli


Anonymous said...

Way to go for your part Alli in the Girls Conference. Touching lives and making a difference. We are proud of you.Aunt Bee & John

Anonymous said...

Alli - GLADI SL Blogs were so amazing!!! What a difference you are making in SL!! Grandma Norma would be soooo proud of you and she is looking down at you and smiling!! Doug and I are so proud of you and we miss you!!!

Love you
Aunt Becky