“Girls, Leading, Our, World!!”
That’s what GLOW stands for. Say it out loud, loudly, but this time rolling all your R’s and you’ll kind of hear what our campers sounded like as we walked from place to place on the Nekempte University Campus.
“Girrrrls, Leading, Ourrrr, Worrrld!!
At first, the girls had just looked at us counselors when we’d encourage them to yell and be silly. But only a day into camp and they were participating in everything.
The counselors had also split the girls into animal teams, for games and to build cohesiveness. We’d started them off on a few cheers. Princess and I would prompt our Lions:
“One, two, three, Lions… ROOAAAARR.”
A week later, they were making up their own cheers… Including, “Girls, Leading, Our, World!”
The Elephants would enter rooms shouting:
“Elephants Stomping! Elephants Stomping!”
And the Monkeys would shriek in unison:
“Monkeys Climb Trees!”
The girls were somewhat constrained by their animal vocabularies, but their fight cheers were great nonetheless!
Camp GLOW in Nekempte was a one-week leadership camp for thirty-one 9th and 10th grade girls. Ten of us Peace Corps Volunteers planned and ran the camp. Laura was our fearless and capable leader. We had sessions on self-esteem, gender roles, planning for your future, HIV/Aids, peer pressure, and other life skills.
We also had daily crafts, an afternoon of Olympics, a Girls Night, and plenty of games.
Scott taught gardening—you should see how some of those girls wield sickles!
John and I taught hay box cooking.*
And I introduced my laundry stick during laundry and bath time—slightly modified.**
31 girls did laundry and bathed on a day when the campus was without water…which is no mean feat. Then we proceeded to be without water for the next two days! John, Dustin, and Scott made it all happen– they brought water to campus from town in huge barrels in the Peace Corps car. Mckonnen and the Peace Corps car were invaluable throughout the week.
Every day was non-stop. The girls impressed us with their knowledge, curiosity, and willingness to learn. They also had a lot of fun.
One thing about Ethiopian teenagers: in some ways the girls are very put together and grown up. They’ve had a lot of responsibilities in their families for a long time. Most of them cook and do laundry for their families. At the same time, these girls seem a lot less self-conscious than American teenagers to me. After the girls learned how to make friendship bracelets, a few walked around with bracelets taped to their foreheads, so they could work during free moments.
During the final ceremony, on a beautiful terrace up in a tree—with a bonfire—the girls roasted smores, wrote in each other’s journals, and drank sodas. Paul broke out his ukulele and everyone sang.
It was an amazing week.
[Photos are courtesy of Paul and John]
*Hay Box Cooking is a method of fuel saving cooking that John and I learned from an Aprovecho publication. Essentially, you cook food as you normally would, but instead of boiling rice or beans or lentils on a stove for an hour, you place the pot inside an insulated box to finish cooking. We modified the design slightly, using a traditional woven market bag (zambelli) and a plastic bag, instead of an airtight box.
1) Cook food as you normally would, but only bring the food up to a boil for five minutes.
2) Place plastic bag inside of a zambelli. The zambelli gives the plastic bag shape and solidity.
3) Pack the bag with about 10 cm of hay.
4) Place pot inside bag. Fill hay around and above the pot. Use plenty of hay.
5) Tie off bag.
6) Allow the pot to sit for 2-4 hours inside the insulated chamber. Time varies based on type of food and amount.
7) If you are cooking meat, bring the pot up to boil for an additional five minutes before eating.
Read “Capturing Heat: Five Earth-Friendly Cooking Technologies and How to Build Them” for more details.
** The Laundry Stick was a hit! I improved the design slightly, having the carpenter cut the base of the stick to fit the bucket almost exactly. He also cut four holes into the base, which allow water through, keeping clothes from coming up around the side of the base when washing.
In their written evaluations of camp, 74% of the girls said they would try hay basket cooking at home (23 girls). 71% of the girls said they would try the laundry stick (22 girls). Some girls even said that the hay basket or laundry stick was the most important thing they learned at camp!
In other, entirely unrelated news…
John and I just put down money for a cabin on the Queen Mary 2! We thought after an epic two years, it would be pretty incredible to take a transatlantic ship home.
So, our service ends November 30th—though we may leave a couple of weeks early to travel. We board the QM2 on December 15th and arrive in New York on December 22nd. It will be John’s first time back in America in 28 months.
I hope my New York family and friends are free on the 22nd! Let’s have breakfast! Chinese? Japanese? Burgers?! Or just plain old, delicious bacon?