Safe spaces for bright futures

Thank You for Cultivating the Leadership of Girls in Haiti

Thank You for Cultivating the Leadership of Girls in Haiti

June, 2013

“Because we are young they think we are little kids. But we represent the future of the country. We have the right to speak and express our feelings.”

Fifteen-year-old Ester speaks with genuine emotion when she describes the impact the Haiti Adolescent Girls Network has had on her life. Like many girls living in Port-au-Prince, Ester survived the 2010 earthquake and seeks a way to create a better future for herself and her community. Unlike her peers, Ester is fortunate to still be permitted to attend school. Her dream is to become a doctor one day.

Haiti is the poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean, with nearly half of all households living in extreme poverty on less than $1 per day. The lives of adolescent girls often lack structured activities, such as school or sports. They are highly vulnerable to violence, sometimes even in their own homes, and have high rates of unplanned pregnancy and contracting HIV.

The Haiti Adolescent Girls Network is committed to protecting and empowering vulnerable girls, so they may safely navigate the volatile post-earthquake environment and break the cycle of poverty. It provides girls with a safe space in their communities to spend time with their peers, learn about their rights, and obtain the support of trusted adults.

Since Ester began attending the Espas Pa Mwen (Our Space) group at Profamil, our local partner in Haiti, she has gained assets that no one can take away – knowledge about sexual and reproductive health, skills to prevent violence, a commitment to youth and women’s rights, and most importantly, friendships with other girls her age.

“This is the only place I ever feel safe,” Ester explains. “I can relax and make friends here. I learn things here that I could never learn anywhere else.”

In order to provide funding for Espas Pa Mwen, we teamed up with Catapult, a new crowdfunding platform for global projects that support girls and women. We explained that Espas Pa Mwen provides 50 girls with a year of weekly, girl-only meeting space where they learn health and life skills, while building a network of trusted peers and adults who help them successful navigate life’s challenges. Yesterday, we received the good news that this project has been fully funded!

“I want the program to grow,” says Ester, “so that more girls can have the chance to learn what I did in this wonderful program.”

As the Haitian proverb says: Little by little, the bird builds its nest. Thank you for helping to make Ester’s dream a reality and cultivating the leadership of girls in Haiti!