Last week we celebrated another big day at our school for Girls. The end of year! Yet another year has passed of working with these beautiful young women, forces of nature in their community for change, knowledge and hard work, leading a new path for their families to a stronger future! We are so proud of each of them!
And every party has to start with food planning of course! We purposefully planned the party just before Ramadan started so we could celebrate with a big meal of the girls choosing. They wanted fried chicken, fries, baguette and bissap juice.
Early in the morning we all gathered to peel 30 kilograms of potatoes, 10 kilograms of onions and prep the meat and sauce. Everyone pitched in and chatted and cut and cleaned for lunch prep.
We also set up a photo booth backdrop to take portraits of all the young ladies as they were all dressed up. Each year we have matching outfits done in our team uniform fabric, a common practice here for special events to show “belonging” and a special connection and celebration. The girls went all out this year and even used their creativity to make matching shoes, earrings, necklaces and clutches! We will print their portraits and get them delivered to the girls, a keepsake they will treasure. They rarely have printed photos of themselves. We love seeing the joy, close bonds and confidence in these photos!
Not to be left out from the party, the children of our staff, who are also often present at the school, got in on the fun! I love how these children, representing 3 countries and 4 different maternal languages, have become great friends over the years. What a blessing to each one of them, experiencing the inclusive, large Kingdom of God and His people!
After the meal the girls started their own dance party with a stereo system one of their brother’s brought over. I love to see them rejoice, dance, laugh, make up moves, fall over, giggle and do it all over again. It was amazing to stand back and watch. Girls who were so shy at the beginning of the year came forward to dance with joy. One girl from a very poor family had never been to a party like this and she was glowing and laughing. A day she will not forgot. They celebrated all their hard work this year and how far they had come as friends!
After the dance party we settled them all down for a presentation ceremony. We recognized the efforts of all our staff and presented 9 certificates to girls who had achieved excellence in certain areas of academic growth or character growth this year. They received a certificate and got to choose a necklace and earring set from a tray we had purchased of assorted jewelry.
The last part of the party was a blur of photos. Everyone taking photos with their friends, their teachers, etc. One of the biggest successes of this program is the way we focus on building relationships and teaching them to love, support and encourage each other. These ladies have come so far and true bonds of friendship and mutual respect have been borne out of that effort and time.
We have 4 expat staff and 8 national staff, all of whom love these girls and our school. We are thankful beyond measure for these ladies and their effort to see our students, previously at risk girls, grow and shine and establish strong, successful lives.
Thank you for all your support this year! We appreciate each donation, each text, each prayer, each visit. You are a special part of this project and we look forward to sharing how these girls grow and the new directions this school will take in the future as we come alongside them start businesses and access markets to use the skills they have learned and take care of their families long term! God is good!