In Haiti’s northernmost commune of Borgne, 50 adolescent girls and their parents gathered on October 11 together with WomenStrong partner Haiti Outreach Pwoje Espwa H.O.P.E., to launch their new program, “Espas Pam,” or “A Space of My Own.”
Timed to celebrate the 5th annual International Day of the Girl, the afternoon-long workshop launching H.O.P.E.’s new “Space of My Own” program was designed to help get girls and their parents thinking and talking about this unique moment in their lives, as the girls blossom into young women and expand their horizons. It is a rare opportunity, in these busy farmers’ and traders’ lives and in the lives of their daughters, for a rare and honest exchange about individual behavior, relationships among their peers and with each other.
Led by a H.O.P.E. nurse, community health worker and social worker, the girls, ranging in age from 10-18, shared their thoughts and learned about the importance of self-care and about their own vital roles and responsibilities, both as individuals and as members of their broader community. The girls expressed their excitement at the new program and were enthusiastic at the prospect of participating in H.O.P.E.’s Adolescent Clubs and in the many activities offered there.
The girls’ parents, too, said how thrilled they were to have this special time with their daughters, perhaps to see them anew as young women with their own talents and aspirations, and to contemplate different ways of living, working with and enabling them.
After songs, dancing, girls’ testimonies, a guided discussion of roles and responsibilities, and a lively question and answer period, parents and children alike were eager to continue this program, asking only for a larger “space of their own” in which to do so.