PCV 2 June 2010

Brief Project Description:
Each week, the PCV meets with the Girls Club “The Hope of the Future” of the Public Secondary School at post for two hours to discuss subjects related to healthy lifestyles. On average, 15 girls attend each meeting; most girls are “first cycle” students. Each meeting begins with an ice-breaker activity to energize the girls. Then, the PCV leads a discussion of the day’s theme. These discussions are usually adapted from the Peace Corps Life Skills Manual or Issues and Options for Adolescent Girls (available in the IRC). Each session is closed with a song or other activity. To date, the following activities have been carried out:

• Discussion of club expectations and norms
• “Who am I?” craft using art and adjectives to describe oneself
• Reading Mufarro’s Beautiful Daughters, short poems, and songs in English and translating to French
• Club officer elections and selection of club name
• Dodgeball
• Rehearsal of skits and dances for International Women’s Day celebration
• Skits on creating more balanced gender roles, aggression and passive aggression, and self-affirmation
• Creation of calendars to use to track menstruation and fertility
• Guest speech by a “model woman” who is a law student at the University of Parakou and works at the local Mayor’s Office
• Creation of friendship bracelets.

The following themes have been discussed:

• Reproductive health (led by two visiting RCH Volunteers)
• Elaborating girls’ dreams for their futures and discussing obstacles to achievement
• Peer pressure and self-affirmation
• Sexual harassment in schools
• HIV/AIDS (myths/facts, ways of transmission, prevention, demonstration of condom usage, and “bush fire” game)
• Gender roles
• Aggression and passive aggression as negative communication strategies
• Positive communication strategies
• Menstruation.

In February, T-shirts were offered to the 25 girls who had attended at least half of all club meetings at a reduced price of 500 CFA. The girls (and the PCV) wear these T-shirts to meetings, wore them for International Women’s Day, and will wear them for the school’s Cultural Days celebration in June. Funds are requested to pay for the remaining 1,000 CFA for each T-shirt.

Dates of Project: October 28, 2009 – mid-June 2010 (end of academic year)
Number of People Involved:
On average, 15 girls attend each meeting (as of the date of submission of this request, 20 meetings had been held). However, 25 girls had attended half of all meetings by February. Another ten girls attend occasionally, though not consistently. In total, approximately 90 girls have been touched by this project. Girls are invited to actively participate in each club meeting through hands-on on activities, participatory discussions, and skits.

One adult female PCV leads all the sessions. Two adult male host country nationals helped recruit students. One adult female host country national has visited the club to lead a discussion.

Budget:

Item Number Unit Price Cost
Tee Shirt 25 1.000 CFA 25.000 CFA
Total Cost 25.000 CFA

Amount Requested: 25.000 CFA

Comments

GAD Coordinator: Another great project from this PCV – I particularly like the thoughtful feedback. My only concern is that there is not an HCN woman regularly attending meetings who could take over after the PCV’s COS, meaning the activity may not be sustainable. I’ll talk with the PCV about her plans for the future of the club. Receipt received. Recommend funding.

GAD Finance: All of this PCV’s projects are so impressive. I was also wondering what would happen to her club next school year. Maybe we can ask her for more feedback on the challenges of incorporating HCNs into projects like Girls’ Clubs if that was the case. The age breakdown of the participants should be included. Recommend funding.

Closing Report

This project has been an astounding success. Girls are actively involved, and the club seems to be making a real impression on their lives. The most successful activities have been HIV/AIDS awareness (which were adapted from the Peace Corps Benin HIV/AIDS manual and the Life Skills Manual) and the communication strategies from the Life Skills Manual. Any activity involving skits has been fun for the girls and enabled them to actively explore the themes. Using ice-breakers and other games throughout the activities has helped keep the girls motivated to attend. English-language activities, such as learning American songs, have also been popular.

The only drawback of this project is that only one student from the majority ethnic group of the area regularly attends. The rest of the participants are all from families from the South; as their parents tend to be bureaucrats, they have fewer responsibilities at home and perhaps their parents see more value in an activity like Girls’ Club. Part of the problem is that the only free time for clubs is Wednesday afternoons, when the local market is held. Since rescheduling the club is not possible, I would like to involve the club’s participants in more outreach activities, such as performing skits at school functions.

A few girls’ parents opposed their participation in the club; I was able to speak to the parents individually and convince them to allow their students to participate. However, it is likely that many girls never came or never told me of this problem. If I were to do this again, I would request from the very beginning of club recruitment that girls alert me if their parents did not want them to attend the club.

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