Thursday, May 3, 2012

Northern Camp GLOW

This past week I had the privilege to participate in a Camp GLOW in northern Uganda. Camp GLOW stands for Girls Leading Our World, and the idea for such a girls’ leadership camp began in 1995 in Peace Corps Romania. Since then, Peace Corps Volunteers all over the world have held GLOW camps to empower girls and teach them valuable life skills.

All of us!

The Northern Camp GLOW in Uganda was held from April 24-30, 2012 in Gulu. During the camp, girls learned about HIV (including voluntary HIV testing and individual counseling), income generating activities (IGAs), teamwork, domestic violence, communication skills, and self-esteem.

The girls learned to make small purses as an IGA

Learning to make sack gardens with Karla

Learning to use condoms!

The week was exhausting, but extremely successful! I facilitated the HIV sessions, which included some structured activities and unstructured Q&As while the girls waited for their counseling sessions. I also got to work with some amazing Ugandan HIV educators and counselors for the day - thank you Jane and Simon!

Since Camp GLOW was held in the same town where we had Peace Camp last summer, we also got the opportunity to take the girls to The Recreation Project again, a ropes course with very active team-building and motivational exercises. Some of the facilitators even remembered me as the girl who greatly feared heights but conquered the zip line! This time around, I led a reflection for the girls before and after they completed the zip line, to put the session in context and relate it to overcoming fears and challenges throughout their life.

The course has changed a lot since my last visit, and in particular they’ve added a completing terrifying new activity called the Leap of Faith. This involves climbing a narrow tree (very high up, I might add), standing on top of the narrow tree, and leaping to try and catch a trapeze-type bar. See the pictures below to understand why my heart started racing whenever I looked at it! However, the girls are much braver than I am, and nearly all of the girls overcame their fears and attempted the leap, something the project facilitators say is very rare – usually only 60% try it!

The leap of faith - so scary!

Leaping with grace :)


More teamwork to conquer the impossible wall!

Tae Kwon Do!

Twice during the week we linked-up with the boys’ leadership camp (BUILD – Boys of Uganda in Leadership and Development) for some field day activities and domestic violence discussions. Having almost 200 campers in one setting was a bit overwhelming, but the activities were successful!

Just having fun!

Me and my friend Karla

GLOW and BUILD - a great team!

At the closing ceremony, some of the campers read poems inspired by their experience at GLOW. We thought they were so awesome that Karla asked for a copy after the ceremony:

About Domestic Violence
Women! Women! Women!
The mothers of the nation
Beaten and tortured by ruthless men
Whipped and raped by strangers
Crying with the poor child on her back
Digging from Dawn to sunset
With little to earn from the harvest
No food, much work
The ribs seen from a kilometer

Never! Never! Never!
Shall it happen again
You hit me, I take you behind bars
When sad lean on friends

Women! Women! Women!
Suffering no more
No more sorrows
Because we are strong and beautiful
And proud to be a girl
And I am the future leader of my country Uganda,
The Pearl of Africa
Women! Women! Women!
By Dr. Irene and Jacque
Camp Glow Closing Ceremony
April 29th, 2012 Gulu Uganda

Proud Glow Girls
Proud are we the Glow Girls
Beautiful we look, eloquent we speak
The bright zebras! Calm crocodiles!
Elegant giraffes! The humble Ugandan Kobs!
Gallant Rhinos! Cheerful Lions! Assertive Elephants!
Cherished Monkeys! Royal Hippos and the fastest Cheetahs!
All focused to be leaders of Uganda, The Pearl of Africa

Proud are we the Glow Girls
So useful to nations, our communities,
The world at large.

Proud are we the Glow girls
To have our nice and loving counselors, staff and co-directors.
We are proud of you.
Thank you Camp Glow
For teaching us.
Camp Glow Closing Ceremony
April 29th, 2012
by Aete Claudys Komakech,
Ocer Champion Jesuit College, Gulu, Uganda

Thanks for a great week everyone! :)


  1. Rashida - great recap of the camp - thanks for the shout outs! We take a great picture - had fun and look forward to seeing you!!! Karla

    1. I'm glad you found my blog! We DO take a good picture! Thanks for sending the poems, and for being awesome! I hope to see you again soon :)