Putting “The Girl Effect” Into Effect

Posted by TERESA

It’s always been a priority of mine to find time to do whatever I can to change the world for the better.  I don’t want to just float through life without interacting with my community.  I don’t want so see problems and let them slide because they’re “too big.”

And yet, they are indeed very big.  And varied.  Where to start?  Poverty?  The environment?  The AIDS crisis?  Corruption in government?  Human rights violations?  It seems so easy in an election year.  I get extremely politically active around a US Presidential election, because what I can do seems concrete.  Get these officials elected, and you’re that much closer to having the world you want.  But what about the rest of the time?

Last year, I came across an amazing website, The Girl Effect, and it allowed me to finally be able to focus my charitable efforts.  Check out this video:

Suddenly, it became clear that, as a feminist who wants to leave the world a little better than it was when I came into it, focusing on charities/initiatives that benefit young women and girls makes the most sense for me. Here are two programs in which I’m currently involved:

iMentor – Don’t have time to mentor a child? Uh…can you send an email once a week? Can you meet up with someone once a month? If the answer to both those questions is “Yes”, then you have time to be a mentor to a high school student in NYC. iMentor is an amazing organization for which I’ve been volunteering since October, mentoring a lovely young woman named Mariah.  You are paired with a student of your gender for either a 1-year or a 2-year commitment, and your only job is to let that student know that they are cared about, and that you are there to help them in any way they need.  Most of the time I feel really ill-prepared to do this!  🙂  I mean, I’m 29 and I still don’t have a lot of my shit together!  But Mariah and I are getting to a place where there’s mutual respect, and she knows that she has someone in her corner.  I’ll be with her for another school year, during which I’ll be helping to prepare her for college.  We’ll see how that goes!  Also, I’m taking a lot away from the relationship, too!  She gave me a pep talk about my writing once, and I was like “Hey!  I thought I was mentoring you!”  It’s an awesome, two-way street.

(NOTE: EVEN THOUGH I’M MENTORING A GIRL, AND THIS POST IS ABOUT FOCUSING ON YOUNG GIRLS, THIS ORGANIZATION ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE HURTING FOR MALE VOLUNTEERS.  SO IF YOU’RE A DUDE, AND YOU THINK YOU CAN BE A ROLE MODEL TO A YOUNGER DUDE, YOU SHOULD CHECK THEM OUT.  THEY REALLY NEED YOUR HELP)

Children’s International – You’ve dodged their blue-smocked representatives in the street, right?  Yeah, well one of them caught me in a philanthropic mood at the end of last year, and I’m currently sponsoring a child.  Her name is April Mae (I’m not making that up), she’s 9, and living in The Phillipines.  She’s adorable, and has already sent me a letter.  It’s $21 a month, which feels like a lot sometimes, but certainly feels better than the more stupid things I’ve spent my money on in the past.

I love dealing with children, and making the world better for young girls in particular is important to me, so these one-on-one ways of volunteering make sense for me.  Rather than biting off more than I can chew, I can focus my attention on one little girl, knowing that that might cause a ripple effect (or a girl effect) of good, either by what she grows up to do, or by telling lovely people like you about what I’m doing in the hopes that you’ll follow suit.  🙂  So, what are you waiting for?

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Published in: on May 6, 2009 at 11:15 PM  Leave a Comment  
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