Last week (July 22-28) was the annual Camp GLOW in Porto Novo. Camp GLOW is an event organized by Peace Corps volunteers. Since girls have so few opportunities here to succeed and finish school, we hope that Camp GLOW encourages them to work hard and reach their goals. Jeff and I brough four girls from Houegbo, Gilberte, Laetitia, Marceline, and Mireille. During the week the girls were visited by success Beninese woman called “Maman Models” because they are both mothers and successful. The girls got to visit the National Assembly and the Songhai Center (famous for its agricultural work).
For many girls, it was their first time out of their towns or villages and in the capitol of Benin. They got to meet girls who didn’t speak their local language and now understand how speaking French can open opportunities for them. French is the national language but people learn it at school, so if a girl doesn’t go to school she might not learn French, which means she can’t communicate to people outside of her language group. I hope they will go back to school and study more!
It was also there first time using indoor plumbing. We had to explain how to use a toilet… as in sit on the seat, DON’T stand! We also explained to put the toilet paper in the toilet and how to pull the cord to flush it. I also showed some girls how to turn a faucet to get water. Where most of these girls live there is no running water… only wells. I learned how much I take for granted. I for one enjoyed having a toilet, it was like a vacation from the latrine.
The girls also got to play soccer and do arts and crafts. A woman taught them how to use old plastic bags to crochet purses and necklaces. I sent an example of a sachet bag to the Igo, maybe you’ve seen it and knows what one looks like! Jeff made himself a beaded bracelet during the beading session. It’s very pretty. My necklace feel off the string because I got distracted while talking to one of the girls. Oops!
Each evening, we had fun activities. One night we played captured the volunteer. Each volunteer hid somewhere on the campus and then the girls had to find us. It was dark so I was a little scared to hide, but the girls were having so much fun. Another evening, we had a dance party (I took some video footage, so I will try to upload it!). These girls can dance!!! They knew the words to every song and they danced continuously for at least two hours. My moves were not nearly as good as theirs, but they were encouraging. THe last night of Camp Glow was the talent show and camp fire. The girls prepared skits and sang songs. My team, the blue team, made a skit about a litle girl who wants to go to school but her father says no because she has to work at home instead, so the girl gets some woman to come in and convince her father that she should go to school.
At the end of the week I was so tired.