In 2013, AWFY joined forces with Marissa Davis, a Master’s candidate at Harvard’s Kennedy Center who had been awarded grant money to work with our Girl’s Group. AWFY had a nascent Girls Group whose goals were in line with M’S work, and she worked with is for three months. The Girls Group was initially formed in order to support our most vulnerable students. The statistics involving the rape and abuse of girls and women in the Eastern Cape are staggering. We have several students who have been abused, AND a few who are HIV+ as a result; we wanted to give these young women a forum to discuss these and the other issues they face as women in Port Elizabeth.
We had hired a local woman to work with our girls a few months prior to Marissa’s visit. While it is key to have someone from the girls’ community to work with the girls, the woman we hired requested some professional development in order to improve and continue the Girls Group. Marissa gave a start and solid structure to the program, which now continues and runs three days a week for an hour and a half each session.
The Girls’ Group, named Sister’s Keeper, has, in just under a year, built the confidence of the twenty young women who are involved in the program. They are working harder in school, expressing more clearly their needs, desires, and circumstances, and they are supporting one another in ways they had not been in the past. They are a force!
After a boy commented, “We want self-esteem too,” we recently began a Boys’ Group.