By Cara Stephenson- Monitoring and Evaluations Intern
Shanti Uganda held our Teen Girls Workshop during the September school holidays. As usual, the girls engaged and enjoyed the sessions we gave on an a vast array of topics, varying from reusable pad making to navigating healthy relationships, and everything in between affecting the health of young women in Uganda.
Ordinarily, when we get feedback from the girls at the end of a workshop about the lessons they have learned, the answers we receive are predictable. Encouraging and certainly valid lessons, such as sharing with their friends about pad making and cake baking; but predictable nonetheless.
However, at the end of this particular week, the girls did something different. Something inspiring.
Rather than purely provide feedback in written form, they decided to create a skit, filled with lessons they will take away from the week. They wrote, rehearsed and designed the entire play completely by themselves, and were excited to perform it to their family and friends at graduation, sharing the things they have learned. Encouragingly, the girls had created the entire play outside of workshop hours, staying back until after our sessions every evening to perfect the show.
The play was about a young girl, Norah, who excelled in school and loved to learn. However, her mother squandered her school fees on alcohol and Norah was forced to drop out of school due to lack of funds and to care for her younger siblings. Norah didn’t know where to turn to for help, and she looked to her peer group for advice. The girls she associated with at school were less than helpful, and encouraged her to meet boys and forget about school (insert a lot of gangsta style moves with sideways hats here). Norah was discouraged, but knew she wanted to finish school, so she searched for a role model, and eventually found one in her aunt. Her aunt helped her speak to her mother, to recognize the importance of schooling. She gave guidance about peer groups and the value of supportive friendships. In the end, Norah returned to school and continued to top her class in all of her subjects!
The 26 lively girls we had this week all participated in the play in some way or another, and the show ended with two songs that the girls had composed themselves about the important roles that girls play in society. The show was a resounding success, and the girls relayed perfectly to their friends and families the messages they had learned.
For us, the show sent us a different message – that the workshops we are providing are not only teaching our girls valuable lessons, but they are also inspiring young women to inspire others. Uganda will have a very strong future if the young women we meet during our workshops have anything to say about it!