How Did I Get Here?
As a foreigner who has only been living in Colombia for one year, how is Ninas Sin Miedo relevant to me? Why is it so important, and why am I fighting for this cause? As the fundraising ambassador for Ninas Sin Miedo, I wanted to introduce myself and explain how I got involved with this incredible organization. It can be difficult and overwhelming to put yourself in the shoes of a distant child or family who lives thousands of miles away. It can also be difficult to decide who or how to help when there are so many organizations fighting for valuable causes and informing you how to help people who are suffering. However, one of the reasons that I loved Ninas Sin Miedo as soon as I learned about it is that although the families and girls we work with face a great deal of hardship, the girls are never treated as “poor” or “incapable.” Instead, they are valued for being strong, capable, and able to overcome any difficulty. Ninas Sin Miedo did not create an alliance with this community or offer educational programs to “help.” Instead, the idea is to facilitate the girls of Soacha to see their potential and to understand their rights and power. NSM works to create a long-term solutions in which the girls participating in the program become leaders in their own community and create the change they want to see. Too often, organizations can belittle their target communities by creating the illusion that those affected by difficulties, whatever those may be, can’t achieve anything without the help of the organization and other outside entities. I love that Ninas Sin Miedo empowers girls and teaches them that they can be who they want to be and make their own positive impact on their community.
Why is NSM’s mission important?
I love Latin American culture. That’s why, when I moved to Ecuador in 2013, I ended up staying for 3 years and later moving to Colombia. Of course, cultural norms differ from community to community, but in the time I have lived in Latin America, I have constantly been drawn in by the genuine kindness and passion of the people I meet. However, one aspect of Latin American culture that has often struck me is the gender inequality. Women are hypersexualized and made to feel that their greatest worth is their appearance. Sexual violence is normalized and its impact minimized, so girls grow up believing that disrespectful comments and actions made by men can be perceived as normal. There is poor sexual education in schools, so many teens don’t have the opportunity to learn about contraception and safe sex when it’s crucial. Once, while riding a bus, I was sitting next to a woman with 3 young children in her lap. She looked a bit overwhelmed, and we began to talk. She asked me about my life, and later whether I had a boyfriend. I responded that I did, and she asked me how it was that I didn’t have children. Misunderstanding and feeling a little uncomfortable at the personal intrusion, I explained that I still felt too young to have children, and I didn’t think I would have time to care for a baby. “No…I mean, how is it POSSIBLE that you are in a relationship and you don’t have a baby? Do you take a pill or something?” the woman re-explained, looking at me like I was a fool. Finally understanding, I realized the weight of what the woman had asked me. She had three small children in her lap, and not being a mother might not have ever been an option for her, because she had never learned about how she might protect herself if she so desired. This conversation, although it happened two years ago, has always stayed with me. I do believe that every girl should be armed with the knowledge to make her own, informed decisions. She should be aware of her rights and abilities. She should know her power to decide her own fate. Ninas Sin Miedo is equipping girls with the knowledge they need to make their own decisions and become leaders. Education and empowerment are necessary and important in communities like the one Ninas Sin Miedo works in, and I am proud to be part of such a worthy mission.