In October 2011, I was privileged to visit the Institute of Women’s Excellence (IWE) School in Rwanda, Africa. IWE was established in 2006 to educate local girls, many who were victims of the 1994 genocide. During the time of my visit, there were approximately 160 girls housed in a single dormitory at the school. It was apparent that space, among many other resources, was inadequate.
Today, slightly more than 400 girls attend the school. Thankfully, a new dormitory has been completed and opened at the school since my October 2011 visit. However, the need for sufficient living space remains an issue. During my time at the school, it was very disheartening to see beds separated with less than two feet of space.
Despite their living conditions and lack of resources, the girls are happy, extremely smart, creative, articulate, and eager to create opportunities for a successful life. I saw no evidence that they would allow their past experiences to impede a successful future. The girls were well versed in scripture and they exercised a strong faith in God.
How can I describe my feelings during the visit at IWE? Simply put, I experienced a range of emotions. Sometimes I felt joy; other times I felt sorrow, anger, or grief. Most of the time, I felt at peace and very hopeful for the futures of the IWE girls. Through all of these emotions, I always felt a sense of urgency to help the girls along their journeys to success and to womanhood. If I could do one thing to meet their basic needs, what would it be?
As a mother of a teenage daughter, I reflected deeply about the basic things young girls need each day as they transition to adolescence. What could I do? How would I help? What could I give these girls that would make a small, but meaningful difference in their lives? I prayed to God for guidance.
Each day, I observed the girls as they spent time washing their underwear – panties and bras for the next day’s wearing. I wondered how many girls had only one pair of panties to wear. Once again, my emotions would veer toward sadness and grief. Perhaps this was something I could affect. Perhaps I could start a program to provide basic needs for the IWE girls? Thanks be to God for answering my prayers!
The Basic Needs for Girls program has been developed to raise awareness, as well as financial support, to provide panties and bras for the IWE girls. The short term goal is to purchase two pairs of panties and one bra for each girl at IWE and deliver them by December 2012. Your contribution can make this possible. Please consider making a minimum donation of $10 to support one girl at the Institute of Women’s Excellence School in Rwanda, Africa.