Welcome back, Everyone!
In the time that I have been back from my most recent visit to Africa, I have been reflecting and I’ve come to the realization that it is really “the little things” that make a tremendous impact. I think that I often focus on the bigger picture - both in life and when I speak about The Seraphine Project. Yet, there are things that may seem little but potentially have a much bigger impact and create a sense of possibility for the girls in regard to their life as it is currently and their future. During my visit in March, there were several activities that I did with the girls that initially may have been thought of as “little,” but in truth, they are part of making a larger impact.
The first example of something that may seem small is activities that the aunties and girls do when they meet. Some that I got to see include poetry readings, song performances, and even acting exercises. Yet you, like me, may wonder, “what difference would these activities make?” What I have come to realize is that all of these help to significantly improve the girls public speaking skills and self-confidence.
Another small activity that I did with the Rise and Shine club was to have the girls write positive messages on hearts and share them with each other. The inspiration for this exercise comes from my mom when on Valentines Day she wrote affirmations on many cutout hearts and put them all over my mirror. At the club meeting some of the messages that they wrote were “you look so pretty today,” or “I like your smile.” In the end, each of the girls ended up with six or more hearts to bring home as a reminder of how amazing they are.
Within many of the communities where the girls reside there are not many positive messages for girls and women because sadly, they are not valued highly. Several girls even approached me at the end of the meeting and asked if they could have extra hearts to give to their friends who aren't in the club or couldn't be there that day! This very accurately represents how something as little as a message on a cutout heart can make all the difference in a girls self-image and confidence.
A third example of something seeming little we did was baking brownies as a group activity to have some fun. Believe it or not, this was actually a much bigger deal than I realized! I personally find (and I am assuming many can relate) that I take something as simple as having dessert for granted. To have a little something extra for enjoyment is huge. It's not just a special treat, it also teaches the girls that they are special. For many girls, baking is a new experience. Having a house with an oven is a huge luxury and most had never baked before. Just as we like to treat ourselves every once in a while, they do too. Providing the opportunity to do so is very valuable!
Finally, on two nights when I was visiting we were fortunate to take a few girls to dinner. This was definitely one of my biggest highlights of the trip as I absolutely love deepening my relationships with them and having 1- on - 1 conversations. Sharing dinner may seem inconsequential to most of us, but for the girls to be exposed to ordering off a menu and being treated as valued guests is a really special opportunity. Building unique relationships is a great way for both of us to create new connections and learn more about each other's lives. Knowing that they are worthy of being at a restaurant and striving to have that experience again in the future is also powerful!
All of these small activities have tremendous value on so many levels. Whether it is building confidence, deepening relationships, or expanding horizons, it’s the little things in life that truly matter the most!