By: Deborah Lubbe
Veera Jyothi’s confident smile preceded her as she walked into the small office where our team of volunteers was conducting interviews from VOICE girls at Pragati High School in Amberpet. Veera Joyothi participated in Camp Voice’s pilot program last summer in Hyderabad and had patiently been waiting for her turn to speak with us.
While Kashay and Lauren, both IDEX fellows working as VOICE volunteers, asked her simple questions about her experience I sat quietly and watched the exchange. Her eagerness to answer questions with more than a quiet “yes” or “no” was extremely surprising. The young girls enrolled at the school I have been placed for the IDEX Fellowship program typically take much more coaxing to engage in a two-way conversation. It was becoming easier to distinguish the trend of increased confidence in the “VOICE Girls” we interviewed.
Veera expressed her interest in learning new topics, improving her English grammar skills, and expanding more on what was covered last year during the 4-week camp. When Kashay, a volunteer, asked if she had looked at her camper workbook since camp in May Veera’s back straightened and her bright eyes told a story I had not expected.
She explained that not only had she reviewed it, but her mother had also begun reading it as a result of her daughter’s interest. To top off this news she continued to say she had shared the workbook with girls who had not participated in camp last summer. This darling young woman had become an agent of change, an agent of educating others.
In that moment, sitting across from Veera in her blue and white school uniform, I realized she had embodied what The Girl Effect really stands for. Girls living in poverty are uniquely capable of creating a better future. But when a girl reaches adolescence, she comes to a crossroads. Veera was not only making her way towards a better future, but also encouraging others to make the journey with her.
The short interview wrapped up and we thanked her for taking the time to speak and give us feedback.
As we were starting the next interview Veera bounded back through the door almost falling over and said in a hurried rush “ Can I be a counselor next year? It would make me very happy! ”
This made all of us beam! I think the process of viewing the impact of Camp Voice is even more surreal having never seen how camp operates. Despite my own lack of understanding of the flow of a day in camp, the outcome is clear. These girls are becoming more confident in their abilities and in their desire to reach out to other girls in order to educate them.
To sit in front of your computer and watch the girl effect video is one thing. Experiencing the weight of Veera Jyothi’s words, who is now an advocate and thread of the girl effect pattern, is quite another. Thank you Veera Jyothi for your words, bravery,and your dream.
For more information about the The Girl Effect and how you can help spread the word click here: The Girl Effect