SUE GONZALEZ AND THE ADEHYE GIRLS CLUB
Our friend Sue Gonzalez from San Francisco has been to Elmina 3 times now. This time she earned a grant and here below are her achievements in her own words and photos. Thanks also to AllPeopleBeHappy and the many donors who helped her make this possible.
And now, Sue….
This summer I had an amazing opportunity, thanks to a grant through AllPeopleBeHappy, to launch the Adehye girls club in Elmina, Ghana. Adehye means “royal” in Fante. The name was chosen because we want the girls to take pride in their lives.
The success of the Adehye Girls Club could not have been possible without the dedicated work of a few Tomorrow’s Stars scholarship “mentors”.
Solo, Dorcas and Leticia became mentors for the girls. Rudolph teaches the girls about sexually transmitted infections.
Solo, an education student at the University of Cape Coast, provided the framework for our Adehye Girls Club constitution and always brought his unwavering support in all of our activities.
Dorcas and Leticia, who are both in the process of applying to nursing school, were the main group facilitators. Both of these young women were respected as role models by the girls as they shared their stories of determination despite hardships and challenges in life.
Richard, a Tomorrow’s Stars scholarship student who is now the librarian at Bantuma, assisted by making specially designed Adehye Girls Club shirts.
Rudolph, a Tomorrow’s Stars scholarship student now studying medicine in Kumasi, provided valuable lessons on sexually transmitted infections.
For our first meeting, the girls made heart maps to show what they value in life, what fills their heart now and hopes and dreams for their future. Their heart maps were filled with pictures of family, church, friends and community. Their dreams for their future included wanting to become teachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, journalists, police officers and even a judge! But one image became central in every girl’s heart. Each of these girls values education. Each heart map contained pictures of their dream to finish their high school education and have the opportunity to attend university. These heart maps became a central theme of our meetings and a reminder of what is important in each girl’s life.
One of the highlights of this project was the official launching of the Adehye Girls Club during a community presentation at Bantuma School. The girls all stood in front of their community and listened attentively to Rebecca, the Girl Child Coordinator who introduced their call and response by the call, “Royals!” and the students responding, “Education is our Aim!” The community cheered for the girls. The girls were filled with confidence as they presented a drama on teenage pregnancy prevention.
Girl Child Coordinator presents the girls club to community. Teenage pregnancy presentation
Another highlight of this project was the field trip to Kakum Rainforest. We rented a van and a huge diesel truck to take the 1 hour trip to Kakum. As we bounced around in this truck, the girls sang and danced for the full hour. We began walking through Kakum, listening to the guide speak about its history. When we reached the canopy walks, 400 ft. high amidst the trees, the girl’s nerves began to show in their faces and movements.
We talked about the importance of overcoming fears and taking pride in accomplishing challenges in life. I was so proud of these girls as they made their way through seven canopy walkways! This trip provided an important bonding experience for the group that will help to cement their friendships and support for each other.
Happy to finish the first canopy walkway! Canopy walkway at Kakum Rainforest
Throughout the month, the girls participated in many other activities including authoring stories, crocheting and making bracelets for themselves and for my students in San Francisco. They learned how to crochet with plarn, using plastic bags as yarn to make children’s mats that they will be able to sell.
Most of the schools in Ghana do not provide access to creative outlets. Having the opportunity for creative expression proved to be a very fulfilling part of the club.
The future of the Adehye Girls Club looks promising. The girls learned a great deal of empowering life skills. I was able to leave curriculum and other materials with Rebecca, the district Girl Child Coordinator, to use with other girls clubs in her district, and with the Tomorrow’s Stars mentors so that they can continue to meet with the girls throughout the year.
I want to give my sincere thanks and appreciation to AllPeopleBeHappy and Tomorrow’s Stars for supporting this very special group of girls. By educating and supporting a girl, she takes what she has learned to her community. I feel very blessed to have been given this opportunity to become a part of the change in the lives of these girls and the very special community of Bantuma.