Former intern Claire tells us about her experience at VOICE, and why YOU should support our Indiegogo campaign!
When I was young, my mother began taking me on what became a tradition of Mother-Daughter weekends. Each year, beginning when I was about six, my mother and I would drive to lake town or mountain cabin to spend time together and talk about growing up. My mother brought different books and guides with her, so along with hiking, swimming, and shopping for souvenirs, we read and talked about the life changes that would come in the next years. The care that my mother took to give me resources and a space to grow gave me the confidence to be myself in my community and in the world. Those trips are a huge part of why I have the courage to be myself today.
As I began working with students and teachers in schools in Hyderabad, I was reminded of those trips in the strong connections between the women in the school community. I spent afternoons after school having chai and snacks in some of the young women’s homes with their mothers, chatting (in my very terrible Hindi) about our goals and our futures. One young teacher admitted that her ultimate goal was to be a businesswoman, and she hoped her future husband would let her work after marriage. Another day, a whole group of students and teachers gathered in a circle around me to ask about what were the best kinds of exercise and what to eat before a workout, and finally made me promise that I would bring in some workout tapes the next day so they could exercise in their homes. One morning, I had a brief huddled conversation in hushed tones in the corner of a classroom – some young women wanted to know what kinds of bras were the best!
Throughout the year I worked at the schools, I was continuously amazed by how these students and teachers were so intelligent, creative, and enthusiastic to learn. They just needed the resources to teach them everything they wanted to know. They needed a safe space away from everyone and everything else, just for girls, to talk about the unique challenges and changes that they face.
This is exactly what VOICE 4 Girls provides. During Camp VOICE, girls have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills that they want to successfully navigate their lives as they grow up. With the help of their counselors and role models, girls learn how to communicate and lead so that they can advocate for themselves and their futures. And in the girl-safe environment, both girls and mentors have the ability to talk openly and bravely about the things that concern them, challenge them, and excite them so that they all can figure out how to face these issues together. VOICE gives girls and young women the resources and the space to allow them to gain confidence, courage, and new possibilities.
After one summer of Camp VOICE, all of my teacher and student friends said that they had learned more than they could ever have imagined. Now, VOICE 4 Girls is trying to give this same opportunity to over 6,000 girls in Andhra Pradesh and Uttarakhand – the opportunity to gain the confidence they need to be themselves and change the world around them. Today I ask you to help us in this mission by becoming a VOICE Champion, either by donating to our current campaign or spreading the word about our cause. Your help will give these girls the chance to advocate for the best possible futures for themselves and to raise their VOICE!