With the 2017 SERniña workshops coming to a close, we decided to go out with a bang! To do so, we hosted our first community fair last Tuesday 25th of October.
This year we celebrate SERniña’s first official year of programs and the Fair Day, which happened at our partner school Education for the Children, was a chance for the girls, with support from the facilitators, to present their SERniña experience, growth and learning to their community, including younger students, boys of the area, parents, siblings and community members.
Before reading on, check out this short video of the day below.
This year, we worked with 6 girl groups at EFTC, a total of 71 girls. Yes, you heard that right 71 girls all presenting, speaking, dancing at once. The groups chose and presented the following modules in stations:
- What is SERniña
- Creating My Own Path (Goal Setting)
- Developping a Media Filter
- Overcoming Gender Roles
- Sexual and Reproductive Health
- My Moon Cycle (Menstrual Health & Empowerment)
It was clear that a lot of effort had gone into all the materials the girls had prepared for the day and the various stations all looked really great.
The fair got off to a slow start as we waited for visitors to turn up. We had no idea how many people to expect, it was the morning and most parents would likely be working, but we were expecting each class from the school to come through with their teachers to learn a bit about SERniña.
The objective of the Fair Day was to give the girls the opportunity to practice their public speaking skills, develop their confidence, provide them with a project to work towards, many of the girls also prepared performances. We also wanted to give them the opportunity to educate their communities on some of the topics we’ve covered as a way to encourage support and increase knowledge regarding SERniña’s work and to further their own development through the process of educating other people.
Early on, we had a group of foreigners who were visiting the school, I met them at Creating My Own Path. After having been explained the importance of creating one’s own path in life they passed over to 2 of the girls who were ready to talk them through the process of goal setting. It was clear the girls were nervous and weren’t sure how to drive the interaction, I suggested trying to speak to the group a bit more and asking them if anyone had a goal in mind, big or small.
Then, two more girls invited guests to trace their hand on green paper and write their goal or 'dream' on it. This was then glued to a small paper tree to show the school what are the 'dreams of SERniña.'
Over at the Gender Roles station, after a quick presentation about what gender is and what gender roles are. Guests were invited to write on post-it notes their responses to “What it means to be a man?” & “What it means to be a women?”; an activity which raised some debate as some people were writing their own personal opinions on the matter, and others were responding according to what society dictates is ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’. Either way it got people talking and thinking about gender roles and that is a success in itself.
Throughout the day, I regularly visited the girls over at Sexual Health and My Moon Cycle. The girls at these two stations needed the most support as masses of boys would come wandering over and begin acting out and making jokes, completely normal behaviour given the themes. The girls educating on Sexual Health were handing out cards with different parts of both sexual and reproductive systems and visitors/students had to label them correctly. Over at the next table a similar activity focused on the processes of menstruation and fertilization.
The girls at My Moon Cycle were given the responsibility of educating on the importance of not having shame about our periods, as well as the special connection that our own menstrual cycle shares with the cycle of the moon and how we should be proud of our female bodies; our capacity to produce life is thanks to our periods. They also spoke in detail about the 4 different phases of our cycles and what each means for our emotional and physical states. Various adult women that I spoke to during and after the event were so impressed and said they were a little embarrassed by how much they didn’t know about their cycles.
Personally, what touched me most about the day was seeing so many of the girls speak with so much confidence and so articulately, no matter the size of the group they were confronted with. I had special admiration for the girls in charge of sexual health and explaining the menstruation and fertilization processes. It was such a ray of hope, that in this community girls are not only learning about their menstruation cycles and about their bodies in an environment of body-positivity and self-love, but that they are gaining the skills and confidence to be speaking to members of the opposite sex, younger, same age and older, about these topics.
We look forward to continuing to work with the girls of EFTC in 2017 and doing more and more community events to spread the important teachings of the SERniña Program.