I am bursting with emotions after our day with the girls group of San Miguel. These girls, ages 12-18, meet to discuss the importance of self-esteem and to understand their rights as young women. They also meet to weave sintas, or traditional hair bands, found in areas with Incan ancestry. The girls sell these sintas and use the money to put themselves through school. It's hard to capture how incredibly mind blowing this program is.
Monique and Reby have traveled around the world and say they have never met girls so shy. They rehearsed beautiful speeches for us about the program, but just like the dance performance a couple of days ago, some of the girls looked like they could burst into tears just mustering up the courage to say their name.
However, their personalities really came out when teaching us how to make the sintas. It's a very intricate process where you sit on the floor, tie a belt around your waist, and use a comb like tool to weave the hair bands, with what seems like a never-ending stream of colors. These shy girls all of a sudden turned into intent businesswomen.
I was able to get in on the action with a young lady named Carmen, and I was absolutely terrible at trying to weave a sinta. I loved how we could flip the switch to put me in the awkward position, with the girls instructing me on how to weave the sinta. It was clear that Carmen's skill is teaching.
There was another girl who was a natural photographer and ended up taking many photos using the camera on my phone. There was another little girl named Lucia who had no problem in speaking up and telling us her story.
When the end of our time with the girls came, I asked (with tears in my eyes) that these girls remember they are all talented in their own way. Not every girl is going to be a public speaker, but I implored them to continue to find ways to share their ideas. It’s easy to look at girls who do not have confidence, or familiarity with speaking, and feel sorry for them. The truth is that it is the rest of the world who really suffers when these girls are silent. That is 66 million innovations, 66 million pieces of wisdom that the world goes without when these girls do not feel empowered to share.
I’m glad I got to listen to their stories and perspective albeit in a different way than I expected.
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