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Help Us Bring Girl Power Project to India
My first encounter with The Girl Power Project® was over a decade ago. When I stepped off the plane in Uganda, I accompanied Vivian Glyck, founder of Just Like My Child. We exited the airport and on the long journey to a village outside of Kampala, as I took in Africa with the barbeque smells of machomo, the colorful pointed sleeved dresses adorning the women who carried their goods and the sounds of roaring boda-boda motorcycles everywhere.
When I met the teenage girls of The Girl Power Project® on that visit, I saw their bright eyes, the way they understood their world without speaking.
The world where if they didn’t find courage to speak up, they could face unwanted pregnancy just for going through puberty. I remember thinking, would Girl Power Project help these girls reclaim their lives?
On my second trip just one year later, I met these same girls…and I saw more life and vibrancy in their eyes that brought me to tears. The fear and longing for more had been replaced with a knowing and power I could feel.
Yet, that same look of searching for more, of fear…I had seen it before.
It was my sophomore year of college. My parents booked us a trip to India, all 5 of us. We had been going for years, but this time they booked a grand tour. Instead of the normal chai afternoons around town with our family, we would go to Agra for the Taj Mahal, Jaipur for old forts and even Udaipur for a floating palace. We started in Delhi, where the old world met new with soaring buildings and iconic landmarks of India’s freedom. My college appetite for the world took it all in.
It was a side of India I never saw before, away from the comforts of my masi’s home, my mom’s sister, and away from the shop owners that knew us.
I was taking advanced photography that semester and brought my father’s old Canon A1 with me that I used at the time.
On the Taj Mahal tour, I saw the Yamuna River behind it and asked if we could see the monument from the other side. My father heard the curiosity in my voice. He paid the tour guide a bit more (as to how it all works in India) and we seated ourselves in a magically appeared small boat (also how it just works in India). I took photos of the stark white pillars’ reflection in the water, thinking of how I would dodge and burn the print in the darkroom. I put my camera down to adjust the aperture.
That’s when I saw them. Three young women sitting along debris by the water. They had the same look in their eyes that I saw moons later when I was with Vivian in Uganda. I didn’t even snap a photo, but will never forget the way that look pierced my young heart.
When we found out that Girl Power Project® was expanding to India with my fellow chai momma Shraddha on Arielle Ford’s announcement call, I pictured those teenage girls. I thought of their eyes lighting up at a chance to make their own decisions like I had seen in Uganda firsthand.
Our team could feel it too when Shraddha and I spoke about it. We all had supported Girl Power Project® in the past by helping over 30 girls reclaim 50 days of their school year with access to menstrual hygiene kits in Uganda…and now it just hit home for us. And so here we are…ending International Women’s week as we aim to help make Girl Power Project® a reality for girls in India.
For the 6 of us, when we support this, we are reminded that as girls once ourselves, we could not have the lives we do now if our parents had not taken the leap across the world to America. We think of our own daughters like Just Like My Child’s core, where all children are just like our own.
Just Like My Child Foundation’s Girl Power Project® is a transformational program targeting girls around the world as they enter the most vulnerable juncture of their lives: adolescence. This project steps in just as girls face the choices that will lead them to a life of early marriage, pregnancy, and disease OR a life of education, economic independence, and delayed marriage.
Just Like My Child states, “Empowered girls dramatically improve the wellbeing of their families, their communities, and their countries—multiplying the impact on society. When you invest in a girl, the whole world benefits.”
In India, it will allow girls in a small community in Rishikesh to use their OWN voice and make decisions about their bodies, on their education, health and ultimately financial freedom with the curriculum put in place by Just Like My Child.
What we love is the track record and proven research of this curriculum.
For 13 years, they have been teaching Girl Power Project® curriculum to girls, boys and the communities at large in over 90 regions in rural Uganda. The published data scientifically proved the transformative impact of Girl Power Project® at the community level…that means not just the lives of girls…but boys, teachers, parents, police, health care workers and the community at large are all lifted (Journal of Universality of Global Education Issues).
The curriculum of The Girl Power Project® was created by Just Like My Child to be replicable and transportable, using simple, kid-friendly language, making it fun and educational to any girl, anywhere in the world.
And the next stop for this transformation…is India.
Your donation is an impact for the voices of all the Indian girls like us.
To help us achieve our goal and learn more, go here.
And for the latest fun events we host that support this cause, check out our Instagram handle @thechaimommas.
Written by: Puja Shah, Chai Mommas, Chief of Content Strategy