Saturday, October 11, 2014 is the UN International Day of the Girl Child. This special day aims to “recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world,” says the United Nations.
What is it like to be a 21st century girl? In many parts of the world, girls face discrimination. In some countries, they are forced into early marriages(46% of girls in India, for example) – which they are physically and psychologically unprepared for. In many countries, girls are subject to physical and sexual abuse. Millions of girls up to fifteen years of age endure and suffer from female genital mutilation (circumcision). Many are deprived of a proper education. Many are forced into child labor, sexual exploitation and human trafficking. The International Day of the Girl Child focuses on the need to address these difficulties, to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.
In Jamaica, the non-governmental organization Eve for Life supports and empowers some of the most marginalized girls: young (mostly teenage) mothers living with HIV and AIDS and their children. Executive Director Patricia Watson and Director of Programs and Training Joy Crawford co-founded Eve for Life in 2008. They are supported by a loyal and hard-working staff and a group of amazing “Mentor Moms” who guide and support the young women, based in Kingston, St. James and St. Ann. Their core services and programmes include parenting workshops, HIV and AIDS counselling, social support, training and capacity building, AIDS education and community sensitization and mobilization and advocacy.
Young women make up over sixty per cent of all people living with HIV globally. In Jamaica, there are more than twice as many women in the 15 – 24 years age group living with HIV as there are men. The physical and psychological challenges Eve for Life clients face (apart from trying to keep themselves and their children healthy) are unbelievably complex. Their situation is usually exacerbated by poverty and the rising cost of living; unemployment; stigma and discrimination; lack of family support; domestic and sexual abuse (increasingly); and even in some cases homelessness. Eve does an absolutely incredible job. They build the girls’ confidence. They counsel them on difficult issues. They help the girls get into training programs, so they can earn money. They help them get back to school, or into programs where they can continue their education. They help the girls become independent, strong and hopeful again. They offer them love. And, most importantly, they care.
As the International Day of the Girl Child approaches, Eve for life is on a mission. It aims to try to change a mindset that exists among some Jamaican men and that is often supported by women too. This is the practice of “grooming” young girls, sexualizing them when they are still very young. It is the practice of older men approaching these very young girls for sex, which is often forced on them. They are still children. It is illegal. It is sexual abuse. It causes mental, spiritual and physical suffering, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and sometimes HIV. Men, stop it! Nuh Guh Deh!
If you have not already done so, please read some of my earlier posts, including Nickeisha’s Story: https://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/nuh-guh-deh-nickeishas-story/ In a heartfelt speech at the soft launch of the “Nuh Guh Deh” campaign last November, Nickeisha, who is from St. Ann, said: “As someone who has experienced abuse, I feel it is my duty as an empowered and proud teenager and mother to say this to you … “NUH GUH DEH!!” Lef wi mek wi grow…!!”
The official launch of the Nuh Guh Deh campaign will be on the International Day of the Girl Child, Saturday, October 11, 2014. Eve for Life and all the girls would love you to be there to support them. It’s going to be a lively, exciting event. More details to follow.
If you also want to support Eve for Life financially, no amount is too small. Funds are needed so that Pat, Joy and the team can continue their work and support our vulnerable girls. Eve is asking each person to give J$365 x 365 days. Monthly, weekly or annual deposits can be made. Persons can contribute for any number of days; if possible for at least four days per month.
Funds received will support the organization’s local fundraising to strength and sustain work with adolescent girls and children affected by HIV and AIDS.
If you need more information feel free to contact Shandell Lowe at 876-771-8500.
You can contribute to funds to Scotiabank Jamaica’s Constant Spring Financial Centre Savings Account: EVE for Life; Branch No. 21725; Account No. 32433
Contact Eve for Life: Office: 876-758-7049; Other: 876-816-1365/876-342-6107 Fax: 876-758-7049
E-Mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: http://www.eveforlife.org You can also find them on Facebook and on Twitter @EveforLife