Monday, May 30, 2011

5/28: The image I cannot escape of my all day taxi ride the day before is of a man about my age clearly dying of AIDS. He was too weak to get into the taxi himself and when I pulled him through the doorway, I guided his frail body with ease, his body now merely flesh covered bones. All of his layers of clothing couldn’t hide his ashen pallor or soft gasps at bumps in the road. He mumbled unintelligibly several times to stop on the side of the road to use the toilet before someone could understand him. By that time it was too late. He hung his head in humiliation the rest of the day, only lifting it when another male twenty-something, a young, attractive, charismatic guy who had spent the better part of the trip swapping stories about girls with his new friends in the back seat, reached over and wiped his nose and mouth. He was drooling. The young man left the used tissue in the other’s lap for future use. Nothing was said, no eye contact made. For the fun loving guy knows that that could have been him sitting there and might easily be him. That among his friends he’s subtlely wiped more drool and turned the other way more times when his friends have soiled themselves than he would care to remember or admit. For doing so would acknowledge that more of his friends are dead than alive. That this slow and silent killer, which is discussed solely with memorized figures and regurgitated facts, has decimated an entire generation. The overwhelming fear of this disease’s anonymity and brevity has created a culture of silence. So the young man said nothing when he wiped a stranger’s face. And nobody acknowledged the smell of urine or his whimpers or his shame. It was like he was invisible, like nothing was happening at all.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

3/26 continued: So I seemed to have forgotten a rather large chunk of March 26 that fortunately I wasn’t a big part of. We so graciously offered the taxi drivers dinner and a place to stay last night seeing as though we arrived at night but also knowing full well that they pull all-nighters regularly on crazy cross-country trips with Zulu patrons. We awoke this morning to them refusing to leave and demanding to stay all five days claiming it’s too far to go and come back. We reference the contract they have in their possession that states they will do just that. They again claim ignorance to their previous awareness of the location of the camp and say they would do what was previously agreed upon if the venue was at ‘Drakensburg’ which again is a mountain range spanning two provinces in SA and two countries but they seem to believe is a town not too far away from Nondweni. The idea of us funding their mountain holiday is ridiculous especially after how inappropriate and upsetting their behavior was the day before. They weren’t budging. On the contrary, they threatened us by saying if we force them to leave now not only will they not come back to pick up the girls but they will ensure that no one else does. The situation escalated and we requested that the Camp Director get involved to mediate. A comprise was eventually agreed upon that involved the taxi drivers staying for the duration of the camp but were not allowed to be fraternizing with the girls or even to be seen in close proximity. This was just the beginning of our awareness of the power of the Taxi Association.

3/27: I circled around doing the wake-up call which involved greeting the already bright eyed and bushy-tailed campers. I walked into several cabins where all six campers were moisturizing, dressing or just chatting in the nude. I love their overall comfort level with their bodies; I wish American teens would feel the same.
Today we gathered in the clearing to do yoga. The girls took it very seriously, never laughing at the strange or sometimes awkward positions. One of the GLOW girls visited me several weeks later and when I asked her about her day she said she starts each day now with yoga.

After breakfast, we went into the forest for the high ropes course. The campers started by climbing up and down a 12 foot high net. They scaled it three or four at a time and though there were some tears everyone was cheering on the other girls no matter if they took 30 seconds or 15 minutes. We then walked up to a tire chained about three feet into the air. Each girl fell into the arms of several others and was guided, lying down, through the tire to the girls on the other side.
Those two activities paled in comparison to the main event. For this you started on a six inch ledge about four feet off the ground. You then attempted to time your jump nicely on the first swing so that your foot could catch the next swing without A: doing the splits or B: awkwardly swinging half heartedly back to the starting ledge. After four swings there was another ledge which allowed you to get your bearings before reaching the next vantage point by way of a sequence of tires. Since they weren’t bolted down the tires swung just as badly as the swings did but were more cumbersome. The consensus by the next ledge is undoubtedly to use the top of the tires as opposed to the hole in the middle. Trust me, seeing as though they are all hanging at quite different lengths trying to get to the hole is near impossible at times. And yes, out of stubbornness I stuck out my hole strategy till the next ledge. Next, you have a high balance beam to maneuver with the help of a rope arm rail for the faint of heart. The following ledge involves a rather large gap that is to be circumvented by way of a Tarzan-style rope leap and it’s then hoped that you would latch onto the vertical netting which by the way is quite difficult to manage though somehow everyone did. You then cross the netting parallel with the ground until you reach the final post. The girls loved it and as a spotter I saw quite a few going three or four times.

The last event was one that I demonstrated with Angie. There were two thick cables about three feet off the ground attached to three tree trunks. At one end the two cables were touching each other but gradually separated until they were perhaps five feet apart. I stood on one cable and Angie was on the other and to keep balanced we held each other’s arms first at the shoulders then slowly at the fingertips. Now we’re both shaking like leaves and fortunately for me I have several Nondweni girls behind me basically propping me up and the entire crowd of spectators behind me in case one of them flinches. Angie, on the other hand, has one tiny girl spotting her. I communicate my alarm at her lack of support through clenched teeth while teetering on this cable as 100 girls watched. As the Camp Director tries to soothe Angie’s fears she falls and has a gash from her knee to her ankle. At that point another scrawny girl runs to Angie’s side when we decide we want to give it another go. Three quarters of the way there and I’m essentially at like a 30 degree angle with my ‘spotters’ being the sole reason I don’t smack on my face. After some muttered begging from yours truly the Camp Director agrees to let us stop. Embarrassingly enough, three sets of campers go after us and had a far easier go of it.

Due to a miscommunication, we had a picnic lunch and many of the girls carried their sacks as close to the river as possible. One camper told me later that eating outdoors with her friends was one of her favorite parts of camp.
After lunch I facilitated a session on goal setting and achieving. I asked the girls to define short and long term goals and give examples of each on flip chart paper in small groups. After a few groups shared, I passed out a handout that had a chart with a space for a short term goal on one side and a long term goal on the other. After writing down a specific short and long term goal they had to outline the steps they were going to take to achieve them. The benefits of achieving the goal were discussed along with the stumbling blocks. At the bottom of the chart was a completion date and a lyric from ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’ that says, “Your time has come to shine. All your dreams are on their way.”

One girl’s short term goal was to purchase a backpack. Her plan of action involved setting aside R1 ($0.14) each week out of her school snack money until December. Another girl’s short term goal entailed selling small snack bags and fruit to help support her family. She was worried about her starting capital but she figured she could start small.

Many girls had aspirations to be doctors and though they detailed the steps they would take to get there they also realized there would be quite a few stumbling blocks along the way. Several girls talked about how time-consuming chores like hauling water, cooking and washing clothes were and how those activities severely cut into their study time. Even so, I saw the girls’ faces light up when they read the completion date of their goals aloud.

After my session the campers tie-dyed t-shirts. We were fortunate enough to get thick organic cotton shirts at a heavily discounted price and high quality dye so that the shirts turned out great.

We had no idea of the time it would take for 100 girls to tie-dye shirts and let me tell you it’s longer than you’d think. Three PCVs took ten campers at a time outside to the various rubber banding and tie-dyeing stations while Angie and I entertained the masses. We started by asking them to decorate the outside of their notebooks. Though we had music playing and a very casual atmosphere attention eventually diminished which is when we asked them to decorate the back cover of their journals with a poem. This was a huge hit. Camper after camper volunteered to read theirs aloud and I can’t articulate how powerful they were. Phrases like, ‘I gave you my body/I gave you my heart/I gave you my time/you gave me HIV,’ or ‘I am a woman /I am strong/ I am independent/ I am a woman,’ are just a snippet of that impromptu sharing session.

Next was a session on relationships and sexuality. We asked each girl to write down a question they had concerning sex the day before and Trudell answered them during her session. Questions varied from what is sex, when is a good age to have sex, what if I’m gay to what should I do if I was raped, or what should I do if my teacher is touching me? She led a powerful session on taking a stand and owning your body. Every girl was taking furious notes.

After dinner we had a talent show which was a camp highlight for many including myself. Trudell’s counterpart GuGu was the mc for the night and with her million watt smile coupled with her natural confidence in front of a big crowd you would have thought she was Ryan Seacrest mc-ing for American Idol. And plenty of these girls would have blown the other American Idol contestants out of the water. Not only was there traditional singing and dancing but dramas, dialogues, gospel singing and poems as well. Poems with phrases said with such strength and power they brought the house down. Here are just two examples: You hit me harder and harder/Kick me when I’m down/You want me to cry/I refuse/You won’t break me, or Martin Luther King had a dream and/SO. DO. I. At this last stanza all 100 girls were on their feet, screaming and banging on the tables. Actually there were so many acts that brought the audience to its knees that one of the tables broke after so much banging. I can’t adequately explain the energy of that night but to say that every singer sang as loud and as passionately as she could, every dancer kicked as high and with as much enthusiasm, every word was full of meaning, courage and intensity. Frankly, I was blown away. I was utterly humbled knowing I was in the presence of greatness.

3/28: The talent show went well into the night so because of that we cancelled this morning’s Aerobics session in lieu of a little extra sleep. Little did we know how necessary it would be to fill up our energy coffers.

After breakfast, we set off for a hike in the mountains to see Bushmen paintings. It quickly turned into a death march. Our hike commenced up this steep mountainside that seemed never ending. Girls were stopping for breaks every twenty feet and it wasn’t long before morale waned. I was located in the upper-middle section of the pack so I had the unfortunate vantage point of seeing that the leaders of this operation were a handful of overzealous GLOW girls, not Greg, the facilitator of this session. Not only were there not enough adults but the few that participated had no communication between them. So I wasn’t aware that one PCV climbed down the mountain with a camper who was having an asthma attack until hours into the hike. Once the group I was walking with reached the top of the first mountain (out of 6!) I organized a cheerleading squad to encourage the remaining sixty. We waited for about half the group to catch up then we continued. When we reached our second peak Greg gave us some history on the Bushmen people. Unfortunately we were still missing about a quarter of our girls. (There were adults with them). Since we didn’t wait until the group was together there was no way to tell that nobody was hurt or got lost. Also, we were led by the group of five campers to an incorrect point because Greg was not leading us. At this juncture, the girls were exhausted and hungry and all were apparently convinced we were getting a ride back down once we made it to our elusive destination. When I burst their bubble they refused to go any further. A group of 40 or so GLOW girls stayed at the point they were led to by the other campers. No amount of cheering and enthusiasm on my part could get them to budge. Well, it turns out it was just as well because due to the rains we couldn’t access the Bushmen paintings after all. Greg claimed he knew of another location of Bushmen paintings nearby but after all this hemming and hawing the stragglers caught up and we were now with the 30 or so girls furthest away from camp. Once the girls saw us move west they all headed off. I was with five GLOW girls and I didn’t see anyone in front of me or behind me for an hour and had no idea if I was going in the right direction. I was in charge of these girls’ welfare and didn’t have something as simple as a map or compass to direct us. Greg was near the back. I think. I didn’t see him again till we got back to camp. One of the girls asked me, “Are we climbing a mountain or a Drakensburg?” “It’s a Drakensburg,” I responded. “Cool.”

What was supposed to be a fun morning hike where they learned about their ancestry ended up as a six hour hike to nowhere. The girls were pissed and rightfully so. We were able to frame it as an analogy for life with some success. We scrapped the scheduled scavenger hunt for more swimming which greatly boosted their spirits. Swimming attire meant stripping down to your underpants (who owns a swimming suit?!) but many of the girls in life jackets just wore panties using the life vest as the cover up for their upper body. It was much warmer so many girls jumped in. We also got a bunch of balls out so there were games of keep away and catch all over the place.

When we reeled it back in, the smiles had returned and it was time for Leah’s session on career development. When we read through the applications for Camp GLOW it quickly became clear that there are only a handful of careers these young women aspire to be: social workers, doctors, nurses, teachers and policemen. 95% of applicants listed one of these as their career ambitions with the high majority of those with the goal to be a doctor. That is all well and good but it’s also important to be aware of other career options. You don’t need to choose from five options, in reality there are thousands of careers open to you. Leah also discussed this and scholarships and other schooling opportunities.

Next was a session on values and human rights facilitated by my counterpart Lindiwe. She said something that has stuck with me almost a month later. She said, “If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together.”
After dinner we had an awards ceremony. We first gave a word of thanks to the counterparts and junior counselors and all of them received a nice necklace. Then each PCV and Counterpart called the girls from their village and everyone got a certificate for the hard work they did this week.

After that was the ‘I can’t’ funeral. Katie started by giving her mother’s rags to riches story about how so many people told her she would never go far in life and now she’s a successful businesswoman and mother in Seattle. She wove a beautiful and inspiring story about perseverance and hope. She looked each girl in the eye when she said, “If and when you make mistakes pick yourself back up. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you will fail. You cannot fail. Failure is not trying and I know you all will try and try and try. Don’t ever let anyone blow out the fire that is inside of you. People will see that you are special. You are all intelligent, driven, passionate women. Your charisma is seeping out of you. People will be jealous of you and try to take that spirit away. Don’t let them. Your spirit is all you have.

Who has ever been told you can’t do something? (Everyone raised their hands). Who has ever believed it? (Everyone raised their hands again). Make a decision to end that cycle tonight. I want everyone to write a list of things people have told you you cannot do. We will then go out into the bonfire and burn it. (There were many girls that had such long lists they covered both sides of their papers). When we were finished we gathered outside and each girl threw her paper into the fire and said, “Yes, I can.”

All 100 women then lined the walls of the meeting hall with a candle. Katie started with hers lit. She said, “There is a fire inside each of us. Commit today to never letting anyone snuff it out.” Then one by one each girl said a statement that started with “I will….” and lit her candle from the flame already burning from the girl standing beside her. There were statements like, “I will be a doctor,” “I will be a strong woman,” “I will be an electrician.” Then Katie finished by saying that the room is glowing with GLOW girls. Keep your light shining.”

It was another late night but we played the movie “Freedom Writers” for the campers that were interested. It’s a true story about a group of inner-city students who are taken under the wing of an inspiring teacher and are able to channel their difficult experiences by journaling. I was sitting next to one of my junior counselors that seemed a bit disengaged at times during camp. I glanced at her during the movie and noticed she was crying. When I asked her what was wrong she said she was just so moved by the students’ stories.

3/29: We had yoga and breakfast and announcements. Everyone was sad that this magical time together was coming to an end. Greg asked one of the girls if she was excited to go back home. She said she wasn’t. When he asked why not she said that she has so many chores, so many responsibilities. She has to cook for the family, clean, haul water, wash clothes. It’s never ending she says. Here she is free. She loves to feel free. Like a bird. Rather than minimizing her challenges he said he hopes she can come again. As I overheard that exchange, I was thinking the same thing. How can I recreate this?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Here you will find my thoughts on days 1 and 2 of Camp GLOW! (Girls Leading Our World) Days 3-5 will come shortly.

Seven months of planning, organizing and fundraising all came down to these five days. It goes without saying that I barely slept in the anticipation. Many PCVs asked me during these seven months if I had any advice for someone interested in taking on a similar challenge and the first thing out of my mouth would invariably be, “do it alone.” Working with three other born leaders led to a constant feeling of too many cooks in the kitchen. Long debates ensued at planning meetings over issues that would be so easily decided if every choice was to be made my way! I would hold firmly to this piece of advice up until the day we were to leave but halfway through camp it was quite apparent that I could have never done this alone. Not even close. In fact, it was better than I had ever imagined it to be.

3/25: Adrenaline and caffeinated tea were pumping through my veins as I waited along the path at sunrise for our ride into town. Our driver’s internal clock was running on African time and when I called him to inquire about his tardiness he had no idea of the time (who owns a watch anyway?) but assured me he had only to drink a bit more tea before he headed off. That sounded perfectly reasonable to me, you can’t properly start your day without a good cup of tea to get your thoughts in order. In all honesty I had no need for tea. I was so excited I was jogging in place. Seriously. He finally made it and we squished ten girls and their blankets and luggage into the back of his pickup.

When he dropped us off in town I realized not everyone was sharing in my enthusiasm. Due to a complicated claim to territory, the bush taxis we took to the camp couldn’t come to two out of the four villages, my village being one of the ones off limits. Since I had asked two friends to take us into town I hadn’t yet been exposed to the taxi drivers and their scheming sliminess.

Said taxi drivers took no interest in waiting for late comers or had any empathy towards a PCV’s sick grandmother. When all 100 girls were packed in the bush taxis, doors closed, ready to go, the taxi drivers decided that the payment that was previously agreed upon wasn’t, in fact, sufficient. They claimed that the original amount was for the destination ‘Drakensburg’ (a mountain range spanning two provinces in SA and two countries) and not Underberg a town in the southern portion of the mountains. If they had known this they would have asked for more money which is why they’re doing so now. There are many reasons why their logic didn’t add up principally being they had our agreement in writing in their taxis that states the destination being the town of Underberg. But they wouldn’t budge. They refused to drive us any further without a considerable amount more. It took two hours of tense negotiations before we agreed to concede.

While we were humoring their little stunt, the girls started to get restless. The bathrooms (a gross, fly infested room with standing sewage not fit for humans) were closed so a few of the girls went in the grass. A security guard seized the opportunity of squeezing some extra cash out of the malungus and demanded the White women pay a fine in retribution for the girls’ folly. Now negotiations were being discussed on two fronts with us backed into a corner with no way out but through the money pit. When we finally left, our bridge with the taxi drivers was all but burned and the week had just begun.

As I felt the caffeine waning in my system I pumped in some more so my energy and excitement remained at super-human levels. The first tense hours with the drivers didn’t seem to faze me. Nothing could get me down at this point, I had waited too long and worked too hard for this week to be ruined by some money-hungry scum bags.
We drove all day with house music playing at ear-piercing levels and the girls dancing the whole way. Nobody was quite sure how long the drive would be and the animation started to fade after lunch. We stopped at a small shop on the side of the road where the girls were again asked to think creatively about bushes as bathrooms. It was then that one of the girls came up to Angie and said, “This is the best day of my life.” We were up before dawn, had been driving for hours on end getting an earful from our chauvinistic drivers while enduring permanent hearing loss due to the absurdly loud bass. The best day of your life?! Just you wait girlfriend, we’re about to rock your world.

It starts to rain as patience grows thin and we begin driving in circles. The taxi drivers need to again be talked into continuing with much ego-stroking and carrying on. It’s getting dark and though we know we’re close we’re unable to reach the camp director with directions for the last few miles. Angie convinces everyone that perhaps there are two entrances to the road we’re looking for and we finally find the camp.

Though tensions were high with some of the PCVs, the overall atmosphere was a joyous one as we had arrived at our destination safely (albeit at dark). All the girls were given a name tag that was to be worn throughout the duration of camp that signaled their cabin and village. We chose 12 girls from grade 11 to join the others in grades 8-10 as junior counselors. They were each in charge of a cabin and were thrilled with the extra responsibility. I fielded many questions about how many girls were to sleep per bed. When I responded by saying that every girl gets her own bed there were many cheers.

When everyone was settled we came back to the dining hall where a BBQ was in full swing and music was playing from the loud speakers. When everyone was finished, Greg, the camp director, though of British ancestry, explained in fluent Zulu how to roast a marshmallow. This was met by lots of giggling but many asked for a gooey second.

We then walked to a ten foot high campfire where I sat as several girls braided my hair and 100 voices sang songs that have been sung for hundreds of years. Many took turns kicking their legs to their ears to the beat of the music. Indigenous games were also played around the campfire that were reminiscent of tag with a fun song attached and stories were told of which most girls seemed to know all the words to. My heart was so full at that moment; little did I know I wouldn’t come down from that high until days after the camp was over.

It was lights out for the girls but the day’s debrief and the next day’s planning went well into the night for the planning committee.

3/26: Learning from the disorganization of the day before we decided to implement a ‘Decision Maker’ or one go-to person who would make all final decisions for the day. This resulted in a much more streamlined approach where everyone was able to take a day to lead and was able to support the leader during the other four.
As someone with seemingly endless stores of energy I elected to do the daily wake up call. Every single girl was awake, had showered and was dressed when I came around to their cabin at 6:30. When I circled back around I reminded them about Aerobics which were starting soon led by yours truly.

Since it had been dark when we arrived, it wasn’t until this morning that I was able to take in the full grandeur of our location. Our venue was in a small clearing surrounded by the mountains with a large rushing river running through the camp. The cabins, with log cabin facades, were fairly centrally located with the dining hall being the focal point.

We gathered in the large grassy area separating the dining hall from the river for Aerobics and blasted Rhianna while we got our blood flowing. I spent an absurdly large period of time choreographing a fun routine in the days leading up to the camp and it seemed to be on par with their ability which can be chalked up to luck more than anything else.

After breakfast, Angie facilitated a session on Women’s Health: Nutrition and Body Image and talked a lot about beauty being something inside of each woman and related women’s health to your mind, body and your environment.

Next up was Nozipo’s (Leah’s counterpart) session on Stress and Relaxation. She started with a great energizer and a series of songs. After she defined the terms she would be discussing she led all 100 girls in a relaxation exercise. One of the Nondweni girls ran out of the room crying in the middle of the session. When I went to see what was wrong she said that during the stress-relieving activity she was asked to close her eyes and focus on a calming place. She thought of her home but was immediately reminded of the sexual abuse she regularly endures from her stepdad. She went on to say that she told her mom about it and that she doesn’t believe her. She also hoped that this week would be a time she could escape from her problems and was so sad that she was reminded of her struggles. I hope that I was able to provide some source of comfort and tried not to think about dropping her off at that house in a few days time.

After lunch, Greg, the Camp Director, led the GLOW Olympics. Each village competed against each other in a series of events, the first of which was a low ropes course. Here, a participant from each team dove under a set of tires, jumped over and dropped under five wooden hurdles, leapt across a mud pit Tarzan-style with the help of a rope, scaled an 8 foot high wall with the help of her teammates, climbed up and down an 8 foot high net, clambered along a balance beam, scrambled up and down a teeter totter, Army crawled under a large net and lastly, hopped from wooden stump to wooden stump till you reached the finish line. The last participants were the leaders and I’m proud to admit that though I finished covered in mud and sweat with no shortage of cuts and bruises and frankly, barely breathing, I was victorious!! I had five Nondweni girls on either side of me the entire time helping me and who basically threw me over the 8 foot wall. The other ten Nondweni girls were blue in the face from cheering and jumping up and down, many of whom had scratchy voices by the end of the afternoon, myself included. Not only did I win the leaders’ race but the Nondweni girls won the event! I can’t remember ever screaming so loud, chanting our impromptu Nondweni song with all my girls huddled around me.

The next event was a sequence of relay races. Each team lined up in a row with two representatives from each village facing their team. Four balls were given to each team and each girl had a chance to throw one into the crate on the side with the two girls facing them. Each basket counted as a point and Nondweni continued their domination by winning once again. The two girls raised the stakes by holding the crate above their heads. This obstacle was no match for Nondweni and we won three in a row. The last relay race event of a similar nature was won by another village under highly contested circumstances. : ) All the girls were on their feet yelling and cheering the entire time. The Camp Director was so impressed by their enthusiasm and sportsmanship that he awarded monetary prizes to each team. Since we had won the Olympics we earned the biggest prize. When this was announced and the initial screams had died down, my team started a traditional song to show their excitement. The other villages joined in singing other traditional songs and we all were competing as to who would be the loudest. Then many villages, including mine, started dancing to the songs they were singing at full volume. Nobody was letting up and it was quite awhile before any of the leaders had the heart to end the team spirit.

GLOW Olympics, in all its glory, ran way over its allotted time slot so the following session was all but eliminated and was replaced by a session that we missed yesterday due to our tardiness. Trudell framed the bridge model perfectly along the backdrop of life skills and the choices you make in life. The leaders then shared tips about self-esteem and the girls participated by talking about when they feel confident. Here are some examples: “I tell myself I’m beautiful and I don’t listen to other people,” “If anyone throws a stone at you use it as a stepping stone,” “Believe in yourself.”

The girls were anxious to get out of their mud soaked clothes but were asked to hurry back from the showers to collect their prizes from the snack shop. I should have known that chips and pop would elicit a complete free-for-all with girls climbing on top of each other to get their choice drink and chip flavors.
We scheduled a 45 minute long break where the river was open to swimming with the acquisition of a life vest. Now swimming is a generous term for the reality of the situation was that the girls were wading in six inches of water…with life jackets on just in case. I did not encounter one young woman who had swam before and they were grinning from ear to ear. It was late in the afternoon and since the sun had gone down it was quite cold for a dip in the chilly water. Their shivering, goose-bumped skin didn’t stop the rampant denials from the few dozen girls in the water that they were cold. It was like pulling teeth trying to get them out for dinner.

When everyone had washed up after the meal, we sat down for a relaxing workshop on how to journal and journal decorating. They were taught how to draw self-portraits and drew theirs on the front cover of their new journal. Many of them drew theirs several times, erasing it time and again so that it was perfect. Quite a few decorated the background as well and one of them wrote her name and ‘A GLOW girl’ underneath as a sort of tagline. It was nice to have some free time to listen to good music and write creatively. The idea of writing has a stress reliever, a joy or a comfort was a new concept and many girls connected with this new outlet instantly.