I went to India for the first time in 2008. I was participating in a ten-day Immersion Experience Program offered by International Partners in Mission (IPM), a humanitarian agency that supports community-based initiatives and promotes social justice and peace.
From the moment I boarded the plane in New York, I inexplicably felt like I was going home. And once I stepped outside the airport in New Delhi and was embraced by the sultry heat and spice-scented air, I knew it.
Everywhere I went, slums and villages alike, I found community as I sat on the ground with the other participants and shared stories with local residents. I was especially humbled by the girls who wanted no more from me than to be looked at, paid attention to.
Deeply moved by my immersion experiences in India, and by subsequent experiences in Nepal and El Salvador, I looked for a way to strengthen my commitment to the women and girls I met during my travels. After prayers for guidance and a powerful dream, I founded Girls for the World and launched my first workshops for adolescent girls in October 2011. They were pure magic!
While I was developing the program curriculum, the following words came to me during meditation and became the foundation of this work:
Teach themselves to know themselves,
To love themselves,
To trust themselves,
And the rest comes.
Therefore, much of the curriculum focuses on awareness of ourselves and others. Self-awareness and self-acceptance awaken self-empowerment. And once this transformation occurs, a natural leader emerges and action in the community becomes a personal imperative. It is the journey that calls each of us. I hope you will join me in the work.