Some of you may remember way back when I posted information about an organization called Studio Samuel that was collecting new and gently used bralls (bras) to send to girls in Ethiopia.
Studio Samuel is a nonprofit that was started by a woman who adopted a child from Ethiopia and felt compelled to do more for the children there. Their motto is "Empowerment without pity," and this mantra defines all of the action they take to help young women in Ethiopia, who are smart, motivated, and capable, and who must overcome daunting obstacles in their lives. (They also sell some amazing jewelry, accessories, and coffee, so feel free to shop them!)
My friend Emily got in touch with me earlier this week to tell me about a new venture that Studio Samuel is undertaking called "Training for Tomorrow." She asked me to help spread the word, and after reading about this project, I want to tell everyone I know about it.
For a little background, you should check out Emily's blogpost about visiting an orphanage for girls in Ethiopia. Emily and her husband were making their first of two trips to Ethiopia for the process of adopting their son, and they toured three other orphanages. Most of the girls at the final orphanage they visited were too old to be adopted, but as Emily's visit was drawing to a close, one of the girls who had been holding her hand as she walked around looked up at Emily and then pointed to herself and said, "Daughter?"
(It makes me cry to type that and I wasn't even there to see it.)
Studio Samuel's latest program is directly aimed at assisting young girls who will be aging out of the orphanage system and who will often face desperate circumstances and limited choices, forcing many of them into prostitution. Most of these girls have lost one or both parents to AIDS and they are on the brink of adulthood, alone and vulnerable.
Training for Tomorrow is a two year sponsorship program that will provide 40 young girls with occupational training, life skills training, healthcare courses, counseling and mentoring, and karate classes. The sponsorship fee is $30/month (less than $10 a week and about $1/day). It requires a two year commitment.
I admit that it's not exactly pocket-change, but if it's something that you would find manageable, I invite you to consider the opportunity that you could be creating for a young girl. I'm not sure how else you could spend $30 in a month and get that much bang for your buck.
As a sponsor, you'll receive a photo of the girl you're sponsoring along with her name, age, and her goals. You'll get updates on her progress and have the opportunity to exchange letters with her. You'll be making a difference in the life of a girl and you'll be helping to reshape her future, her family, and her community.
Another thing to think about it--if $30 a month feels like too much, talk about this program with your friends. Splitting the cost with someone else makes it $15 a month. It might also be worth checking with your employer to see if it would meet the requirements for the sort of charitable donation that some employers match. As we think about retirement, college savings, and stuffing our emergency cushion, taking on a commitment like this may sound like something we're not quite ready for... maybe this is something that someone else (someone richer!) could handle.
And then I remember that I just bought Zuzu a pair of sparkly Toms shoes and I think actually maybe it's me who needs to step up and make a negligible sacrifice on my part in order to make a tremendous difference in the life of a little girl who doesn't have a mama to buy her sparkly shoes, but who is looking for a way to sparkle all the same.
So please consider signing up here, and spread the word, will you?