September 7, 2020

The month of August was mostly spent outdoors with different groups of girls from informal settlements in Nairobi. We engaged in various activities like nature walks which the girls found very insightful; they were really at ease outdoors such that opening up to their issues was easier for them. They were indeed very excited and took pictures showing how much they were appreciating the environment. Hiking, and Zumba classes were other activities that got the teen’s adrenalin running. Hiking showed them how tough and resilient they can all be. Zumba was fun; they had an amazing time dancing to the music and keenly following the moves of the Zumba trainer.

Each activity ended up with a talk, and a shared meal. We catered to a total of 50 girls during these sessions. The issues that came forth during the discussions were predominantly based on relationships, family matters, and poverty, amongst others. Relationship issues were discussed in all of the groups.

Grace, picking up on the girls’ confusion surrounding relationships, was quick to point out that depending on other people to feel loved often results in unhealthy relationships, not only with others, but also with themselves. “The more you love yourself,” Grace explained, “the more love you can give to others, and the more love you will attract from ‘the right kind’ of others. Work on loving yourself first,” Grace suggested, “in the way you would want someone in future relationships to love you.”  The majority of the girls Grace spoke with lacked parental love and attention and were looking for both from the opposite sex. As a result, most were engaging in relationships that ended up hurting them and damaging their self-esteem.

The stories Grace listened to were generally the same- the girls’ core questions turning to relationship issues with a significant other. Most of the girls Grace spoke with informed her they went into relationships with high expectations but with a total lack of grounded preparation. Grace tried to explain to the girls the importance of understanding themselves before committing to a relationship. By understanding themselves first, the girls will subliminally come to understand what they are looking for in a significant relationship. The two go hand-in-hand. How a girl treats herself sends out a clear message to those around her as to how she expects to be treated. When a female knows her own self-worth, others will either follow suit or fall away. A person’s relationship with themself sets the tone for every other relationship in their life.

Learning to love oneself well is a matter of much practice, but once on that path, a female can begin to better understand the personality and character traits she values and look for those in a future partner or significant other. Without a firm understanding of self, it is practically a foregone conclusion that the female will enter the relationship with high expectations which are normally not fulfilled. Insecurity and low self-esteem will generally begin to kick-in, as well as issues surrounding trust and self-doubt. When the relationship fails, the female will most likely feel inadequate and lack self-confidence. Typically, she will blame herself wondering what she could have done differently. Or worse, not ask herself this vital question and rebound into another relationship to mask her pain, continuing the downhill cycle of looking externally for love rather than internally from self.

As a result of the insights Grace received by speaking to the groups during the various activities, she decided to turn the focus for September to the topic of self-love.

Grace hopes to help the girls understand that no one can love them more than they can love themselves. These girls are so young/immature that relationships with the opposite sex are generally carried out blindly. The girls are loving the boys more than loving themselves. The September curriculum will hopefully, help empower the girls by educating them on the need to love themselves first and to, thereby, begin to set standards on how they should be treated by the opposite sex.

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