…for such a time as this

Stories about the adventure that is Peace Corps Tonga

Camp GLOW Ha’apai is Back!

It is my privilege and joy to announce that Camp Glow is back for year two in Ha’apai! Some of you may remember that I was involved with the camp last year with a couple volunteers on my island. Now it’s my groups turn to lead the charge! This year, Blair and I are co-directing the camp with the help of some representatives from Tonga Family Health and the Ministry of Training, Employment, Youth and Sports.

We are excited to be planning the camp for 25 form 3 girls this year, up from 15 last year. We have a great camp planned with speakers that target the girls’ needs. This year, our focus in on the following:

1.) Advocating a healthy lifestyle;
2.) Providing vital information on sensitive topics such as sexual health, woman’s rights and domestic violence;
3.) Teaching leadership and team-building skills through fun games, relays and problem solving activities;
4.) Encouraging critical thinking and logical decision-making;
5.) Building a network of motivated girls and women;
6.) And fostering self-confidence and creative expression through a fun, safe, judgment-free environment.

We will do all of this through swimming lessons, healthy eating and cooking classes, woman’s health information, and hip-hop and aerobics. We cover diverse topics including goal setting, computer literacy, public speaking, conflict resolution, sexual health, the rights of women and children, sexual harassment and domestic abuse, nutrition, and environmental responsibility.

 But why are you doing this camp again?

“Around the world, Camp GLOW has time and again proven to be an effective catalyst of empowerment and behavior change. Tonga’s strong sense of national pride, dedication to family and community, small population, and current political climate make it the ideal location for an exceptionally effective camp. The national population of approximately 102,000 means that any widespread project will reach a huge percentage of citizens. The camp’s timing, held in the year after Tonga’s first democratic elections, means that it will target the first generation raised with a sense of control over their own government. By imbuing the Campers with a sense of social responsibility and the confidence and knowledge necessary to cultivate leadership, Camp GLOW has great potential for ensuring that women take a prominent role in the forefront of tomorrow’s government.” (Sandy Phillips, Camp Glow Tonga Coordinator)

As a volunteer in Ha’apai, I think that this camp is most necessary here. Unfortunately, hard working families tend to leave the island to find work overseas. This becomes a problem because young girls (and boys) do not have many good role models to look up to. Camp Glow allows us to bring in the brightest women leaders OF Tonga to Ha’apai. It shows these girls that they can reach for something greater and stay here in Tonga to give back to their community and the girls that will come behind them.

How can you help?

The community is behind us. We have two part-time host country national workers on our Island Camp Planning Team, as well as a venue to hold the camp at. A group of men are holding kava parties each Friday and donating their profits to the camp and three young Tongan women have donated their time to be camp counselors. Our main costs are food for the girls (we feed them three times a day for the week plus tea time) and transportation for our women speakers from the main island. We need to raise $3781 USD.

Please consider the following:

 1. Your donation is 100% tax deductible and it all goes to the project.
2. No donation is too small, we can feed a girl for a week for USD $50, $20 pays for her notebooks, pens and resources, $150 pays for her to come to the camp.
3. Donating is EASY! Paste the following URL into your browser and click Donate:

https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=421-131

OR

1. Go to  http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?
2. Click “Donate to Volunteer Projects” on the left side of the page
3. Type J. Burke into the search field and click search

Note: There are a few camp glows in Tonga, make sure you click the one with my name.

It is a privilege to work alongside my Tongan counterparts for this camp. We are all looking forward to a successful camp. Thanks for your help!

P.S Check out our facebook page…..Search “Camp Glow Tonga”

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