We’re each 1 in 10 Million

This week we’re delighted to welcome a special guest blogger – one of our girls! Do you have a story you’d like to share? Email Lily if you’d like to be a guest blogger or if you have a tale to tell! With that, we’ll turn the reins over to Shaheerah to recount an incredible trip she took last month:

I’m Shaheerah, my friend Sophie and I were the two girls that were selected from Washington State to be a part of this spectacular event, the Girls’ World Forum.

When we landed in Chicago, we could already tell we would need our sunglasses!

Our Chaperone was Larisa, she was the adult volunteer. The three of us were representing Girl Scouts of Western Washington. We went to this event only knowing the fact that we were going to talk about the three main MDGs and come up with a ‘Take Action’ Project.

The Girls’ World Forum took place in Chicago in July 2012. There were over 300 girls from all over the world that came to talk about The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These are eight specific goals to be met by 2015 that aim to combat world poverty.  You can learn more about the MDGs here

The Girls World Forum focused on three MDGs: MDG #1 – Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, MDG #3 – Promoting gender equality and empowering women, and last but not least MDG #7 – Ensuring environmental sustainability.

Arriving in Chicago was amazing. The feeling Sophie and I had was too great for words. It felt like I was in a dream. We had dinner at the hotel the night we arrived. When everyone was seated and eating, I was looking around. There were so many girls from all over the world there. It was almost overwhelming. I felt like I knew every single girl in that group. It felt good to know we had so much in common. I knew that this was a start of something amazing. We all had an interest in one of the MDGs and we were ready to make a change. I had a sense of what MDG I wanted to focus on for my separate ‘Take Action’ projects but I needed that extra push and set of ideas to reassure myself.

Here the girls learned about worm casings at “Growing Power,” an organic urban farm (and Take Action project) in Chicago.

Our ‘Take Action’ Projects are projects that each GWF participant is developing that focus on at least one of the MDGs. To begin we each thought about a problem in our community (related to an MDG) and we have to create a sustainable project that will be part of the solution to the problem. For example; my project is focusing on MDG#7 – Ensuring environmental sustainability. I am doing a local project. In my neighborhood of Seattle invasive species are becoming a problem. Invasive species are taking over our native plants in many areas. My project is to pick an area or a couple of areas and clear out all of the invasive plants. Then I’ll use half of the land to replant native trees and plants. The other half is going to be a ‘Self Grow’ garden. It’s a garden where people can come and grow their own fresh veggies.  Once the native plants are gone, you can reuse the land to grow plants and veggies for many years.

In Sophie’s words: “My take action project is focusing on MDG #1 – Eradicating extreme poverty. My motivation for this was that 21,000 children die daily due to preventable causes. The top 4 preventable causes are malnutrition, lack of water sanitation, diarrhea and malaria. To stop the unreasonable number of deaths, I will be hosting an annual 5K run/walk in the Seattle area to raise money to buy supplies that will save lives. Some of the supplies would include insecticide treated mosquito nets, rotavirus vaccines and vegetable seeds. By attending GWF and developing the relationships with the international girls, I know my partnership with another country will be successful.”

Our delegation with only some of the flags of the 145 WAGGGS member organizations

The Girls’ World Forum was an eye opener. Everyone was separated in small groups of about 20. These groups we called patrols. This was the group you were going to go to workshops with and work with. We went to workshops and we talked about the MDGs. We brainstormed ideas on how to accomplish this MDGs. My favorite workshop was when we got in a big circle and talked about the women in our life that inspire us. It was my favorite because the stories were so touching and everyone was crying and so touched by the end of the workshop. That just made me that much closer to these girls that I knew so little about. We went to the Zoo and learned about the environment and deforestation. That day we were all focusing on MDG #7 – Ensuring environmental sustainability.

We had a day were we only focused on MDG #1 – End extreme poverty and hunger. We also had a day just talking and learning about how we can promote and empower women.

This trip wasn’t only meetings and workshops. We were able to roam around the ‘windy city’ and explore. We had a ‘Free Night’. It’s a night that you are free to do whatever you wanted with your delegation. Sophie, Larisa and I teamed up with a couple other delegations. We had lots of fun exploring Millennium Park and downtown Chicago.

Sophie and Shaheerah getting ready for the closing ceremony. It was sad to know the event was ending, but it was a really inspiring ceremony!

Sophie, Larisa and I went into this experience not knowing a lot. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but we knew that this was a once in a life time experience and we wanted to be a part of it. We learned so much and met so many new people from around the world. We made some friends that may be lifelong buddies. This truly was a life changing experience. It is crazy to know that we are a part of a WAGGGS global organization and we are making difference. We are more aware and knowledgeable of the world thanks to the Girl World Forum 2012 in Chicago, IL.

Our next steps will be to start researching and implement our projects in the community. If you are interested in talking to us about the GWF, MDGs or our Take Action projects, please email us!

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