Saturday, July 26, 2014

2014 Guys Leading Our World Camp

GLOW Camp this year was amazing.

Fellow volunteers and I in the Southern district got together to plan a Guys Leading Our World Camp that focused on gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness, fatherhood, and self esteem, to name a few. We tend to focus a lot on females and forget that boys should also be empowered. We thought this would be a great, fun way to do it and it was. Planning, like always, was extremely stressful. I was able to get funding from PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief) and that was so exciting! It was the first proposal I've ever written and it was nice to see that approval email! I was able to secure about P40,000 in local currency, more than enough to make the camp happen! Because we were using a new online grant portal, things were a bit confusing and tricky. Sometimes the site was not even functioning. I hated it! Between getting robbed, getting the money 3 days before the camp, and not being able to use the money (everything I owned was in my wallet that was stolen, including debit cards) you can imagine what stress I was going through. Buying all the supplies and food for the entire weekend was going to be a big mathata (problem)! Fortunately, a very kind man that I am extremely grateful for let me buy what we needed without paying, pretty much letting me take an IOU. I was so, so shocked as he put his trust in me with no questions asked. (I still haven't paid yet but will soon!) There are good people in this world!

When the first day of camp finally came I was sure everyone was excited. The boys came with all their things and most of them brought enough stuff to look like they were ready to move out of their houses! So cute. haha Since this was a boys camp, we thought a football (soccer) theme would be fun and appropriate since most boys love and play football. We had shirts made in different colors according to teams. The volunteers and our counterparts were team leaders and we made up our own team cheers. We gave out yellow and red cards for bad behavior and green cards (I know this isn't in football) for good behavior. We had a poster of a field and kept the tallies on that so the boys could see their team's progress. The winning team ended up receiving a football for each person on the team. It was a great way to motivate them and we all know incentives are always fun. Our sessions were informative and in order to keep the boys' attention, we made it fun by incorporating the football theme into the lessons and played games with them. We even had a talent show on the last night and a drama by a local theater group in that village. Each volunteer attended a session titled "Moving Forward" with the boys from his/her school and we discussed the different ways the boys could take what they learned at the camp back into their respective communities. The boys came up with some great ideas! Capacity building and sustainability at its finest.

The camp was educational, fun, and successful. I am so glad that everything worked out despite all the headaches (literally). I definitely feel like my final camp before I end my service was a good way to wrap things up. I hope the boys take what they have learned and always remember the lessons we've taught them. I will miss them so much.

Watch a video montage of our camp that Kim, one of the volunteers, made. It makes me smile so much and I hope you find it enjoyable!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Today I received an email from my Program Manager, a Motswana, that he sent to all of the Volunteers under Life Skills. I'm not sure exactly what about it made me smile and inclined me to post this but I know it had to do with the beauty of travel. So I'll start with that.

His email was simple and genuine. He told us about how hectic and demanding his trainings were - how much information he had to absorb in little amounts of time. Being his first time in the States, he told us he was able to see few attractions in the DC area like The White House, National Mall, and The Pentagon. He told us how he "freaked out" from all the security that he had to go through just to get into these buildings. haha He said that places like Chipotle and Subway didn't sit well in his stomach. He even told us that he was able to experience Fourth Of July Fireworks in Maryland!

This is all he told us - the simple realities of his experience in America. But what he also said was that he understood what trainees/volunteers go through. He realizes how much information we are expected to absorb during trainings and how fast we are put into a different setting and expected to integrate. About how hard it can be for some to acquire new tastes, rules, and environments.

And all of this made me think. Think about how culture and travel can really let a person understand the differences between two completely different places and appreciate what one would have never thought to take the time to think about before. And I realize how all of us, no matter where we are in the world, share more similarities than differences. We may not experience it all the same but we all feel excitement and learn in different ways. And all of this comes from the beauty of travel. The beauty of cultural exchange and understanding and learning something new for the first time. It's as great as that "aha" moment that comes from putting two and two together. That's my favorite.

I know that I have been grateful enough to experience what I have experienced no matter how far or near I am from home. There's so much beauty in such a simple thought and experience, in education and understanding. And I will always have wanderlust because of all the beauty I see when I'm in a new place, discovering and taking everything in.