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Leading with Love!

This month we are learning about RESPECT; how to practice self-love and have respect for your body through puberty, how to have respect for others and positively support your community. 

We focus our leadership framework on LOVE and building the conditions that foster well-being and our collective and individual intelligence. These young leaders are learning to demonstrate passion for a purpose, develop their own values and lead with their hearts as well as their heads. 

Lensa (10 yrs old) and Beryl (9 years) have a special Valentine's message for you all.  heart emoticon

And all the girls want to get in on the LOVE.    

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#TribeTuesday Honoring Jennifer Graham

I cannot even express how much gratitude and admiration I have for this woman!.   She showed up fully and powerfully at the GOF Leadership Camp last December  (her first time to Africa!) and although she took many pretty photos, she did much, much more, for the girls and me.   She was cheerfully  available to lead classes about the value of one's unique voice, yoga sessions in the sand, dance at sunset, meditation in the evenings, swim lesson, sand art, the list goes on.   I honor and thank her for all her amazing gifts but there's another one I stand in awe of, which is her unique ability to make everyone that comes in contact with her feel heard, seen and loved, from these precious girls to the most hardened people we came across.   When my patience ran out, she continued to smile and work to understand, which reminded me to stick around and "do as Jen does".  She left a trail of girls and people completely in love with her.  

She brings this level of presence to her photography and if you're lucky to be in front of her lens, you will be transformed.   

Why do you contribute to GOF? Easy, this is my path in this life, to be of service from a place of support and love and what you have created is an opportunely to do exactly that. GOF is so unique in its contribution to girls. It is an amazing hands-on experience of learning, showing up and being supported. The importance of this cannot be overstated. 

 

What makes GOF unique in your eyes?    GOF is unique because it is real life experiences out in the world. It is a chance for young girls to touch, taste and feel the world around them. The experience is completely different from what they could experience form a book or in a classroom. GOF is giving them opportunity and experience to show up, to be exactly who they are meant to be in this life...powerful, loving girls who will grow into powerful, loving women who will change the world!  These girls will know they are supported and loved and important because of the GOF Community (ahem, that’s you!) and with that belief one can do anything.

 

Can you share the background of your impactful work with girls and women?  My work with women in my photography business is about supporting and inspiring professional women to be seen for exactly who they are and what they offer to the world (through dynamic photographs). I have learned that my greatest joy in life is to be this support. When I see women and girls witness the truth of who they are, whether it be through photographing them or teaching (photography), I am lifted in my heart and soul by THIS beauty, the beauty of self-knowledge.

 

How can our readers connect with your inspired work and follow what’s next on your horizon? All the action is happening over on these sites:

www.jennfiergrahamphotography.com

Facebook 

Instagram

Here's some of my Jennifer Graham favorites, but this is by no means the complete list.

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#TribeTuesday Girl On Fire - Leah Fox

"For it is in giving that we receive" are the words that Leah lives by and it was apparent in her desire to support Girls on Fire. Being in the "investment phase" of Charm & Magic, Leah couldn't support us financially but she was so inspired by the project that she embarked on making mini malas for each girl on fire as they were about to embark on their life altering journey.

We couldn't be happier about honoring her today and the contribution she has made in the girls lives and mine.

Why do you contribute to GOF?  
I met Eileen at a yoga class, and her passion and vision for this incredibly heartfelt and meaningful project had me hooked immediately. 

What make GOF unique in your eyes?
Teaching the girls to connect to themselves so they can contribute to this world is so incredibly healing and empowering.

Tell me about a present or past experience (school, work, volunteer, informal actions) that aligns with GOF mission or your values in making a world a better place?  
I have been teaching movement and yoga to kids and adults for the past 8 years, this has been my vehicle to help people (both big + small) to connect to themselves, their creativity, and ultimately their power. Being a mom now, I get to practice every day - both with my son and myself. I had the opportunity to donate mala bands to GOF, which was pretty darn special.

How can our readers connect with your inspired work and follow what’s next on your horizon? 
In addition to teaching yoga and movement in Lancaster, PA I also make mini malas, a necklace traditionally used for meditation and prayer, and can be used as a tool to connect to yourself and your greater vision.  www.leahannefox.com // www.charmandmagic.com

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#TribeTuesday Honoring Bea Lumanas

When I met Bea, she was fueled by the hope of building just and gender-equitable societies and undertook fundraising and data management to help our partner SHOFCO grow and reach more vulnerable women and children.  

Bea was the person that introduced me to the girls at Margaret's Safe House and was a companion on many adventures in Nairobi.   I admire her ability to be so lovingly present with girls and I know she is a strong role model, always looking after their best interests.  

Why do you contribute to GOF?  
The girls are simply amazing. Whoever meets these girls cannot help but feel inspired by their resilience from great adversity at such tender ages and their eagerness to learn and become leaders.

What makes GOF unique?   
While kibera itself is indeed a unique context that shapes gof's uniqueness, i would say the stories of these girls and their aspirations are what will make gof unique. These girls already believe that they have a bright future. Gof is a movement that is fueled by hope and you only need 30 seconds to see that these girls are burning with hope in their hearts.

Tell me about an experience that aligns with GOF mission?  
Working with the girls at margaret's safe place (msp) was one of my favorite experiences when i worked at shofco. The first time i met the girls was on thanksgiving day in 2013. The timing could not have been more perfect. I am not american, but thanksgiving is my favorite american holiday. Kenyans did not celebrate it either but that evening i first met with the girls felt like a celebration to me.  I happened to be at the safe place to gather information for a report to be submitted to the donor supporting msp (which housed most of our girls on fire at that time). I was a new face, and only a month old in nairobi doing my job as grants & data manager, so these girls were naturally shy towards me. Part of my data-gathering mission that evening was to find out about how the girls' lives have been improved a year after funding and to see what other needs they might have at the shelter. I ended up staying longer than i should. The girls and their housemother rose had asked me to stay for dinner. I sat on the floor and as we ate "ndengu and mchele" (mung beans and rice -- which are my favorites), i asked them about school and i listened to their stories of great adversity in their earlier years, how happy they were to be studying at the kibera school for girls, and their dreams for the future. That made it the best thanksgiving dinner i have ever had and probably will ever have. I was sharing dinner with a few of the bravest souls i could ever encounter in my life -- and for that i was grateful. Even though i am no longer associated with shofco nor based in nairobi, being part of gof allows me to continue supporting these girls.

Bea now does humanitarian work in afghanistan.  Although this is one of the most dangerous places in the world, it brings me great joy to know her generous spirit, her strong integrity for humanity and her light-hearted humor is interacting with the good afghan people trying to bring about change in their country.   Please keep this amazing girl on fire top of your list for well wishes.    

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The World Needs a Pep Talk

Love this new video from Soul Pancake and Kid President breaking down the new Global Goals and OUR responsibility in achieving them.  

"Everyone has enough.  Everyone is enough.  Open you'll eyes, you'll see."

Together Let's Make Cool Stuff Happen! 

Join the Girls On Fire movement into awesome!   Consider donating today.   

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#TribeTuesday Honoring Kristen Lewis, a Creative Director with Purpose!

Kristen is a creative activist with a contagious “let’s do this” attitude and passionately backed by action. She’s a woman who GET’S IT DONE.  She was a critical part of making Girls on Fire Leadership Camp happen last year and I’m so excited to interview her.  I was curious about how her past work and current career transition connects to her contribution to Girls On Fire.  There’s a definitive red thread. Enjoy.

What motivated you to contribute to Girls On Fire? 

For me, supporting the opportunities and leadership of girls in places where they have been marginalized is the key to contributing to a less violent, more empathetic world. I’ve been lucky enough to have been raised in circumstances that have supported my education, freedom, and choices and it is my responsibility to support work that affords girls everywhere these same opportunities.

What makes GOF unique for you? 

The personal, one-on-one mentorship and support that Eileen offers these young women is truly unique. It is small-scale, and super high-impact. She’s truly their advocate and friend, and it’s totally inspiring.

Can you share how opportunity, travel and personal connections have shaped your impact in the world?

I had the opportunity as a freelance creative director with #TOMS to travel to Phnom Penh to document the amazing work of some of their non-profit partners, including Cambodian Children’s Fund. They do really amazing work there to help entire families get out of the cycle of poverty – providing education for children but also providing skills education and employment for the women and mothers. Through that experience, I saw first-hand how much the future of both communities and the world hinges on the financial emancipation and education of women and girls. I also met a really special little girl there, and in addition to helping support her family, my family and I have emailed and Skyped with her as she’s grown up. It’s been really cool (and important) for my sons.  

How can our readers connect with your inspired work and follow what’s next on your bright horizon? 

I've been working as an advertising copywriter and creative director for large global brands (IBM, Motorola, Miller Lite, TOMS)  for nearly two decades and have had so many great experiences and learned so much. I'm currently focusing on leveraging that experience to help nonprofits (and startups) tell their stories, create awareness and maximize funding. Being able to help extend the reach for people who are doing awesome stuff in the world makes me really happy. 

(www.kristen-lewis.squarespace.com)

 

Clearly, she's tons of fun to work with. Lucky me!  Make sure to stay connected to Girls On Fire Leaders where Kristen will be lending her talents along the way.  

Thank you, Girl On Fire & Tribe Sister!   

 

 

 

 

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#TribeTuesday Interview Honoring Carla Alpert from PROUDgirls

Carla is a co-founder of PROUDgirls™ which provides leadership opportunities for girls in New York to Live BIG and Give BIG. We collaborated with PROUDgirls™ last year during our inaugural GOF Leadership Camp in Kenya to provide training for not only Girls On Fire but for girls from an orphanage in Amboseli and an organization on Maasai land. Through this hybrid curriculum we were able to reach over 100 girls with empowered ways to gain confidence and heart-connection and to integrate these things into their personal leadership via action and service to the community.

What motivated you to contribute to Girls On Fire? 

Sharing the PROUDgirls™ curriculum assures that all girls, no matter what their background is, can have the opportunity to thrive and become the next great leaders of our world. GOF truly speaks to the energy and willingness of these girls to learn and thrive. We do it because it’s how to continue and enhance the cycle of leadership in women around the globe.

What makes GOF unique for you? 

GOF is a unique group of girls because regardless of their circumstances, they glow with eagerness to learn and thrive no matter what. At such young ages and under their own personal life struggles, they are already learning the value of giving back to those who need help.

Speaking of “being proud’, can you share one of your impact experiences? 

A team of our PROUDgirls™ On The Move, did a school sporting event to raise money for orphaned girls living in Haiti. They raised over $1,000 and we sent the check to the Haitian Orphanage where these girls were cared for. When we all Skyped so that our girls could meet the girls they helped, the Haitian girls told us they were going to buy supplies for the kids in Haiti who were less fortunate than they were and distribute those supplies to kids living in camps after the earthquake. They sang us a song, blew kisses and showed us that no matter what your circumstances, there is always someone who needs help. That's what true leaders know and that's what true leaders do.

Find out more about the work of PROUDgirls and the amazingly talented Carla!

PROUDgirls™ provides a session based leadership curriculum, teaching girls ages 12-17 to discover who they are and what they're passionate about. These discoveries and life skills are used to create self-initiated service projects which affect causes locally and worldwide.

Facebook       Twitter  

Carla Alpert, is a graphic design and marketing group located in the New York metro area serving small, medium and Fortune 500 businesses. We specialize in creating marketing materials, event materials, branding, books, websites and more. With every project art directed by Carla herself, expect exceptional design enhanced by her artist's eye and attention to color and composition. Our business has been built solely on word of mouth and has been going strong since 1998.

Carla on Twitter

 

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Int'l Day of Peace

Today is International Day Of Peace, and although I dream of a world where these types are holiday are non-existent, today I wanted to put ACTION toward my own partnership with PEACE, and thought you'd be inspired to do the same.    
So, here's 5 quick ways you can honor and spread peace today:  

1) MAKE A PEACE DOVE -- After school kids craft or doodling in your journal?  This is a honoring that peace is possible. Celebrate all that is free and noble in the human spirit and all people working around the globe to create safety, dignity & human rights for all. 

2)  GET SOCIAL WITH PEACE -  Take a selfie or something else that represents peace to you and share it on your social media.   Tag #PeaceDay #GirlsOnFire #GirlsOnFireLeaders 

3)  LEARN WHY EDUCATING GIRLS IS CRITICAL FOR PEACE -- One word - MALALA, Nobel Peace Prize Winner.   Need more?  Studies show that educating girls economically and socially benefit families, communities and even countries, often breaking cycles of poverty and injustice in one generation. 

4) TAKE A MOMENT OF SILENCE -  Reflect on our brothers and sisters that are living in unsafe chaos, without dignity, with extreme terror and fear running through their body, and extend loving peaceful wishes to them. 
  

5) DONATE TO GIRLS ON FIRE - One goal of Girls On Fire is to foster peace, and in Kenya this means between different tribes.   This is one reason why we work with the women and girl leaders in often feuding tribes that contributes to an understanding of diversity and oneness early on a child's development. www.girlsonfireleaders.com/Donate 

P.s. stay tuned for my actions of peace.  :)  Come on, join me.

 

 

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#Tribe Tuesday - Mama Rose

I’d like to honor Rose, who is the house mother for all girls who live at the safe house supported by SHOFCO.   We call her Mama Rose because if we were to bottle up qualities that make up a great mother, Rose is all that and more.

She ensures these girls (most without mothers) are incredibly loved, well fed, clean, connected to spirit, committed to their education, provides medical care, playfully engaged in being kids, and that every one of them is deeply heard and seen.   At any time, she’s caring for 15 girls AND has 6 kids of her own (yep, you read that right!). 

I learn so much about love and service to others from her.  I’m grateful to have met her 3 years ago, while I was working with Kiva Zip and she was working diligently on her business.   She’s a jewelry maker, artist and entrepreneur that works extremely hard to provide for her family, all the Girls On Fire and be a positive role model in her community.  I’m pretty sure she doesn’t sleep.  

This beautiful film captures it all !


Truly, I couldn’t have managed the GOF camp without her.  To wrangle 20+ girls is no small skill and she stepped in to pluck & cook chickens for our Christmas dinner when our partner bailed.   Along with the girls, this was her first time traveling Kenya!


Appreciating Rose deserves more but I would love it if you could show this woman some love in the comments.   Thankyou. 

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The Power of Play - Part 2

10 WAYS PLAY IS POWERFUL - Part 2

We know play is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being of big and little people and it's often something we take for granted, in the Western world.  Look at our own GOF Kidogo (means little), flying through the air while all the other girls are filled with such exuberant energy.  In Kibera slums, where they live, there is no field to run or a grassy patch to play Super Girl, to test their limits and see if they can fly.   

Therefore #PlayMatters because:   

6. Play lays the foundation for literacy. Kids learn new sounds, practice new vocabulary and exercise their imagination through storytelling.  

7. Play allows kids to discover space.   To practice physical movement, balance and to test their own limits.  

8. Play builds their own judgement.  Learn to make decisions through collecting data, observation, and engaging in others opinions.  

9. They take risks and build their courage muscle.   Learning to move through fear is one of the most important life-lessons.  Aristotle said. "You will never do anything in this world without courage.   

10.  It's just pure fun and joy!  I don't know about you, but most of my childhood memories involve play. 

 


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The Power of Play - Part 1

10 WAYS PLAY IS POWERFUL - Part 1

The benefits of play is not only for kids, in fact it's essential for your creativity, vitality, connection and overall well-being.

At the Girls On Fire Leadership Camp, we are in a constantly in state of PURPOSEFUL PLAY; interacting with the world around us, learning to solve tough social problems, immersion into other cultural traditions, forming unique leadership style, and so much more.  Dance breaks are a must.

#PlayMatters Because:   

1. Play fosters belonging and encourages cooperation.

2.  To create anything new, the play instinct must be activated, not solely the intellect.

3.  Exploration and experiment triggers the cognitive development for creativity and innovation. 

4. Play can be a vehicle to explore differences and similarities and to create worlds of equality and choice, especially important for girls lacking these options in "real-life".

5.  Play renews our natural sense of optimism, literally releasing "happy hormones" in the brain.

My favorite play activity is treasure hunting, where I go about my day with the purpose of finding 3 things that evoke joy (person, place and thing).   With this sort of attention and wonder, I always find treasures that not only put me in a state of joy but also awe.   It's so fun!  

What is your favorite playtime activity?  

Go ahead and play around and sign up for the newsletter to see what we're up to next.   

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Why Your Why Matters

girlsonfireconnect

It’s a new week, a new month, and a fresh start to remember YOUR WHY.   Why do you do what you do?  I bet it has something to do with connection with the ones you love.   This is awesome!  The world needs more truly loved people, right?  Absolutely! Positively!  1,000% YES!

But what if we widen our circle a bit?   What if just this week we were able to see bits of ourselves in “the others”; the homeless teen on the street, the grumpy old man wrestling with his grocery bags, a young girl in a faraway land working against all odds to get an education, that nosey neighbor who stirs up gossipy trouble at every opportunity, and all of us, EVERYWHERE, who have a dream on our hearts that aches to be realized?   Could we just stop, look, look some more and see something spectacular happen?  A part of you being recognize in someone else.   

We will eventually get there.  I know this to be true.  There is the ultimate power in being connected with each other and allowing our love to flow big when we see ourselves in “the other”.    

So, big love to you all for a connected & reflected actions you take this week to expand your hearts and make the world smaller.     Would love to hear about it, so fee free to send me an email.    Seeking a place to feel connected and reflected?  Considering connecting with a young girl in Kenya to sponsor for the next Girls On Fire Leadership Camp.   Go here or email me.   

Now go out there and have an awesome week! 

 

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Fireside chats

Have you ever noticed that the best, life-affirming conversations and sparks of inspiration happen around a campfire?   

This blog will most definitely be in that light.   I will be posting thoughts, videos and photos from the camp and give the girls an opportunity to communicate with you all.  

This project is called Girls On Fire for a good reason!   We are all out blazing our own trails and supporting those girls who will follow to make this world a better place for all women & girls. 

Happy to have you along for the ride!  

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