Mālō e lelei! That’s a friendly hello from the Kingdom of Tonga. As most all of you know, I’m currently serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer here on a small island called Vava’u. My primary assignment is teaching English at a local school, but I also participate in various secondary activities. One of these activities is something called Camp GLOW, a delightful acronym that stands for Girls Leading Our World.
Camp GLOW is held in Peace Corps countries all over the world and strives to encourage young women to become active citizens by building their confidence, increasing their self-awareness, and developing their skills in goal setting and career planning. High School girls who exhibit academic excellence and leadership potential are invited to this weeklong camp free of charge. They get to interact with speakers who are successful Tongan women in business, health, and a variety of other fields. The girls participate in activities focused on goal setting, critical thinking and decision making, computer literacy, public speaking, conflict resolution, the rights of women and children, sexual harassment and domestic abuse, nutrition, first aid, and environmental responsibility. Every day presents a chance for play and self-expression in a safe and encouraging environment.
I had the pleasure of being a part of Camp GLOW Vava’u last year so I can tell you from experience that this is an absolutely worthwhile cause. At first glance, the activities that I mentioned above might not sound all that life changing. Growing up in America, youth are almost bombarded with opportunities to hone their critical thinking skills and learn about decision making. The context of our American culture (and hopefully also loving families and great role models) instills in young people the belief that they have power over their own destinies. Tongan girls don’t have that same experience; many have trouble imagining their future following a path that diverges from the experiences of their mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and aunts (many of whom didn’t even receive a high school education). ..but times are changing!
This year, I am part of a very small group of Peace Corps Volunteers planning and facilitating the camp. We are in the midst of planning and fundraising locally and internationally for 2012. It’s a huge task but, the camps for the past two years have proven to be well worth the blood, sweat, and (happy) tears that go into planning and implementing them. This is where I need your help.
The local community has contributed 50% of the cost of the camp for 2012 and Peace Corps Volunteers are responsible for funding the other half. We are doing this online through the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP). The PCPP allows friends, family, and organizations abroad donate to Peace Corps projects across the world [and all donations are 100% tax deductible!].
Working with these young girls and providing for them an opportunity to become informed, active, independent, and responsible citizens- an otherwise unreachable goal in Tonga-is something that means the world to me, and it would mean even more if you could show your support.
If you think you’d be able to make a donation to this exceptional project, please follow this link: Camp GLOW 2012
Thank you so much for your time. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions or would just like to say Hi!
All the Best,
PCV, Kingdom of Tonga