Empowering Young Women Entrepreneurs at Camp (Guest Blogger Skye Boucaut)

January 2017

For many of us the new year symbolizes a new start. 

I had the great privilege of starting out the new year ticking off a big dream of mine - running an entrepreneur camp for teenage girls through a partnership between Bizzy Girls ( www.bizzygirls.com) and the GCA financial literacy program Imbokodo. 

Having been to Camp Sizanani three years ago it was such a pleasure to be reunited with some of my former campers and fellow vochellis and also to meet the new students joining in.

The purpose of Bizzy Girls Camp is to inspire young ladies to start their own business, develop leadership skills,  and build self confidence. We empower them to dream big while learning the skills required to become the next generation of female entrepreneurs. Women's empowerment is certainly a hot topic at the moment and the timing couldn't have been more perfect to take this concept abroad! 

Sixteen students arrived for the first day of camp shy, curious and unsure what the week would bring. It was truly a gift to watch new friendships form, partnerships grow and business ideas come to life as the week went by. And because all change starts from within, we started off every day with a yoga and meditation program. We shared goal setting exercises and discussed the challenges young women face in their communities. As the workshop progressed we discussed how we can overcome these challenges and support each other's ideas and endeavors.

The girls did a tremendous job making jewelry, launching their own fashion labels and making natural skin care products - the creativity and focus in the classroom was incredible. All their hard work paid off when we finished up our last day of camp with a pop-up store where the girls got to sell their products to the public and keep their earnings.

One of our students, Lerato who launched her own fashion label, shared her camp experience with us:

"I am writing this from South Africa and I am glad to be one of the girls to take part in this camp because it really taught me ways I can make a living and that to be an entrepreneur you need to have partnerships, know how to communicate and also be patient. 

I thank all the people who made this camp to be a reality and play a role in many girls lives because it's easy for girls to end up abusing drugs or ending up pregnant at an early age where I am from. This camp really makes us believe in ourselves and to get to know different types of businesses and opportunities and also reminds us that there are people who really love us and support us to dream big. Thank you."

To everyone who donated to make this happen, we thank you. Lerato and her colleagues thank you. 

This year also marked the beginning of new company SEED. We look to you, our community partners, to continue your support.

Fanele's Story: Empowered through Camp Sizanani

Fanele, who is now 12 years old, found our program through our Asikhulisane Club in her neighborhood.  In September 2016, she attended Camp Sizanani.

“I started attending Asikhulisane because I heard kids singing and playing, and I came to join," says Fanele.  The Asikhulisane Club in her neighborhood meets every other Saturday.  Children there participate in camp activities that develop life skills, empowerment, and basic health understanding that is age-appropriate for 5- to 11-year olds.  The children are often the younger siblings are our former campers, who attend our camp follow-up program, Youth Clubs.  But we do not turn any child away from our community-based programs.

Fanele says, “I enjoyed the club because I learned new things. I learned what HIV is and how it can be prevented.  I also learned about my rights and responsibilities. I have the right to go to school, and my responsibility is to read and learn.  I have a right to shelter, and it is my responsibility to keep it hygenic.  I can do that by washing dishes and sweeping.  My sister and I do those chores together.”

Fanele's mother encourages her to attend the club meetings.  Fanele says, "My mom says she likes the club, because we learn more, and we respect her more."

Young children like Fanele in the townships around Johannesburg need programs like Asikhulisane and Camp Sizanani.  These children are the seeds of our shared future, and with your support, they will blossom into educated, empowered, healthy young people who are equipped to be the change agents of their communities.  

 

At camp, I had fun, because we learned how to swim, and how to plan a story in theatre.  I learned what is a choice and a decision. I can decide to do things for myself.

 

Can #GivingTuesday Really Make a Difference?

295A8996.jpg

This Giving Tuesday, many of us may be asking ourselves whether one day with a hashtag can really make a difference, or if it's just a marketing gimic that clutters our social media feeds and fills our inboxes.  At Global Camps Africa, we get excited about Giving Tuesday because it gives us a chance to join with other non-profits to shine a light on what we think is the most important thing about the holidays:  LOVE.  

Whatever we believe (or don't believe), however we celebrate, wherever we are, we share this moment.  And the moment, the holiday season, is about love.  For some of us, it's a moment to honor a love born of faith.  For others, it's a time to celebrate love for our families and friends.  And on Giving Tuesday, we take the moment to share that love with the rest of the world.  We shine a brilliant, beautiful light out into the darkest places and say, "We see you.  We love you.  We can help."

So, yes, Giving Tuesday is a clever marketing idea and it probably does fill our inboxes to overflowing...but it is also a welcome opportunity to take a moment to focus on what makes this season so special.  If we take the opportunity...if we take the love we feel for others and turn it into action...Giving Tuesday can change a child's life.

Growing Together this Holiday Season: A Letter from Phil

Dear Friends,

In Zulu, asikhulisane means “let’s grow together.”  That’s the name of our program for children who aren’t yet old enough to attend Camp Sizanani, but who live in the same heart-breaking circumstances as the youth who come to camp.  We started this program with the help of some seed funding from LinkedIn in response to a community need:  basic health education, life skills development, and a safe, supportive environment for the younger children of the townships around Johannesburg. 


That’s one of my favorite things about Global Camps Africa...we’re so close to the communities we serve that we can hear directly from them about what their children need to thrive, and we can respond with innovative new programs that directly address those needs.  From a seed of support, a flourishing program has taken root.  Over 1,000 children came to our Asikhulisane Clubs this year!  

One of those children was Mzwandile from the township of Orange Farm.  He started coming to the club in 2015 as an 11-year old, and this September (after turning 12) he was invited to Camp Sizanani.  Here’s what Mzwandile said about his experience:

"At camp, I loved the sports and learning about how exercise is important to stay healthy.  We also learned about different diseases in Life Skills.  I loved learning how to swim, and making new friends! ”
Mzwandile and his mom outside their home

Mzwandile and his mom outside their home

Mzwandile’s mom shared what she thinks about Global Camps Africa’s programs, and our impact on her son:

"He loves the club, and he enjoyed camp.  When he comes home from the club, he talks about the club and what they did.  It helps us connect about his life.  When he came home from camp, he was so proud of the certificate he earned there! ”

The children who start with us in the Asikhulisane program, then join us at camp, are the seeds of a beautiful future in South Africa and beyond.  With knowledge, empowerment, and a new vision for their lives, they are growing into the agents of change that will transform their communities.  Your support now will make this continued growth and change possible.  I see the change in the campers at Camp Sizanani. It is powerful and recognizable.  It moves their lives in a trajectory that will make them successful community members.  I’m so grateful for every dollar you choose to invest in their futures, because I know what they would be facing without your support:  hopelessness. 

I want us to continue to grow together...grow our impact, grow the opportunities for the vulnerable children of South Africa, and grow our sense of hope for the future...together.  Thank you for all you’ve done to plant and nurture these seeds of change.  

I hope you will consider continuing your support so that, together, we can reach more children like Mzwandile in 2017.

With gratitude and hope,

Phil Lilienthal, President & Founder

 

 

 

 

Camp O-At-Ka in Maine Raises Funds for GCA

On July 18th, Camp O-At-Ka opened their doors for the very first Road Race for GCA. The race was held in Maine where 100 runners came from both Camp O-At-Ka and Camp Fernwood. Runners could choose among three different races, a 3km, 2km, and 1km fun-run, and some runners enjoyed the race enough to finish in wheelbarrow fashion! Prior to the races, Phil Lilienthal, Global Camps Africa’s founder and president, spoke with the campers and shared more insight into GCA and Camp Sizanani. The campers were intrigued by what Phil had to say and enjoyed being able to run in a race to benefit the work we do for the vulnerable children of South Africa. As an added bonus, the campers showed interest in getting more involved and plan to donate items such as swimsuits, hats, and sneakers.

How wonderful to see so many new campers embracing  the meaning of “sizanani” (helping one another),  and getting involved in their own ways. This event provided a great opportunity for campers in the United States to support the fight against the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa. We hope this will be the first annual Camp O-At-Ka- fun run for GCA’s benefit, and that the campers’ participation can grow into a lasting relationship with our organization. Our South African youth clubs each have a focus on community service, and it is an honor to share that tenet with camps here in the United States, and to spread the spirit of sizanani. We hope to continually encourage youth to actively engage in their local communities as well as with communities across the globe.  

Each camper contributed $10 as an entry fee, all $1000 of which went to GCA, enabling two additional campers to attend camp and a year of Youth Clubs.

We are grateful to Kyle Tong, O-At-Ka's director and a former vochelli, who spearheaded the entire event. Kyle shared that he was pleased with this year’s turnout and expects the event to grow even bigger in coming years.  We’d like to thank all Camp O-At-Kat, Camp Fernwood, and the participants for a fun and successful day!