Girls Just Like Me

-by Julie Colquhoun

Getting a chance to visit and chat to the My First Job girls was such a special and rewarding experience for me.  Hearing first hand stories of girls needing to leave school at grade 3 because of family needs, domestic abuse, being severely burnt by a stepfather and never wanting to show your face in public, coping with single motherhood living in tents on the grassland with no food to supply your children – it was all heart breaking to hear.

Words cannot express how much it means to these girls to be given life-skills, hygiene education, how best to care for children, how to clean apartments, toilets, using public transport, going shopping in supermarkets allows them to rebuild dignity, self-worth and value in the community and their family.  Many of these things we take for granted as we are taught them growing up.  A glimpse into where these girls are currently and the difficulties and hardship they have to deal with, allows me another glimpse into where they are heading with being given the opportunity to learn, grow, and be able to get jobs that will be able to care for their children.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to speak to them via a translator about how valued, precious and special they all are – all having gifts and abilities to change not only their own lives but their children and their communities. Some of the girls, as I glanced around, had tears in their eyes as I don’t believe that anyone has ever said that to them before.  When we left the girls, I couldn’t help but tear up as these girls are just like me – wanting to be loved, given value, hope, believed in and given a second chance at life to really make a contribution and be accepted into their community as women able to make a change and difference.

I am so thankful to all the individual sponsors of these girls and the Li & Fung Foundation that sit behind this program. To Carrie and the team at Shamtse who are bringing such hope to each one of these girls, you are all wonderful. Thank-you for your hearts and service.

“Beauty from ashes”

– One girl can make a difference but together we can change our world.

CHINA | END POVERTY | LEAN, MEAN, VEGGIE MACHINES

Best strawberry ever!

A few days ago a boy randomly gave me a strawberry as I stood by his mountain-top village trying to catch my breath. At 3,700m altitude the air certainly gets thin. But even my mind - dulled with headache from a lack of oxygen - did not miss the significance that the strawberry was especially picked because it was in the shape of a heart.




CHINA | END POVERTY | PIGS FOR POVERTY

A bright future for this mom and baby

For me, it's all about the story. This baby will grow up to get the education she deserves (along with regular servings of bacon and eggs I imagine). Happy Days.




CHINA | EDUCATE GIRLS | VOCATIONAL SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIPS

Education changes everything

We all know that true beauty is what lies below the surface of us all. But, lets face it, some people appear doubly blessed - both inside and out. Last week, our program manager (Carrie) and I had the pleasure of meeting this girl, along with multiple others from various locations of our Asia based Vocational School Scholarship program.




CHINA | EDUCATE GIRLS | SENG GIRLS VOCATIONAL TRAINING SCHOOL (SGVTS)

The chefs at SGVTS are like magicians!

The two chefs are like food magicians. They change the raw ingredients into the tastiest meals with rich flavors. We have two dishes each day for lunch. Each week we enjoy green pepper fry meat, fried potatoes, fried meat, fried cabbage, fried garlic bolt, fried eggs with tomato.




CHINA | END POVERTY | VILLAGE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

Li's new voice empowering other local women

Li Zhenhuan is a typical rural woman, living a simple life, working hard, rarely speaking and rarely attending community activities. But that was the old Li. We'd like to introduce the new Li.




CHINA | EDUCATE GIRLS | PROJECT EDEN

Nearing the end of an incredible journey - Project Eden

Over the past 9 years, 21 girls have called Eden home. These girls came from families who were too poor to give these girls the opportunity for a good education which would give them a bright future. During their time at Eden, each of these 21 girls were nurtured with love, care, kindness and mentoring from all the teachers,...