Earlier this year, as part of our 20 Year Profile, we shone a spotlight on Old Scholar, Ruby Fahey and all the amazing work she is doing for girls and young women living in vulnerable communities.
Ruby has continued to make great strides with her charity work whilst inspiring lots of SPW students and staff. We took the opportunity to ask Ruby to share the latest chapter of her journey.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak to the Year 7s to talk with them about my project, GRL PWR. I shared with them my vision, my journey and how they could get involved.
After hearing about the project the students decided that the money raised from the Jumble Sale (an inquiry-based project that requires students to run their own stalls selling goods for other students to purchase) would go towards supporting GRL PWR.
The Project – GRL PWR
The project exists to support and empower young girls living in rural Ugandan communities who do not receive any international aid. In many villages most girls miss up to 12 weeks of school each year due to a lack of sufficient sanitary options. Sadly, this is the leading cause of girls dropping out of school entirely. As a result many girls are often exploited or victims of child marriage.
The GRL PWR project aims to knock down these barriers by providing girls and women with the skills and materials needed to make their own sanitary care products. We hope this project will give girls an opportunity to stay in school longer and provide them with a skill they can use to generate an income.
The Year 7 students worked incredibly hard to create a massive and very successful Jumble Sale and as a result of all their great teamwork, managed to raise a mind blowing $2400 towards GRL PWR.
I am so proud of what they achieved – they broke the record of most money raised from a SPW Jumble Sale, an even more impressive feat considering they had one less class than previous years! It really demonstrated the power of community, and how service at SPW filters through the entire community and inspires students to be citizens of the world.
With this incredible donation, we are able to bring a teacher out from Kampala, the capital of Uganda, to run a workshop and teach 100 girls how to make their own sanitary items. These girls will then go on to teach these skills to other girls and women in their village, with all materials provided and easily accessible.
The significance of this donation has meant that we are able to reach more women and girls than we had initially anticipated and this will have such a huge impact on the community.
These girls are capable of changing their circumstances, they just lack the education and resources. As Nelson Mandala said, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world”.
The Importance of GRL PWR
Speaking with a Ugandan girl, we asked her what she liked most about being born a girl, her response was; “The best thing about being a girl is that we are the mothers of the Nation”. Her response resonated with me a lot. It made me realise that despite the challenges and inequality women face in Uganda, she still recognises girls and women as mothers who nurture the country.
While we have been making positive progress, we recently received heartbreaking news that one of the girls involved in setting up GRL PWR dropped out of school and subsequently became a victim of child marriage. She had dreamt of becoming a nurse and that her parents would be very proud of her. This dream will never be anything more than a dream now, as she will be expected to be a housewife and have children. This is a hard reminder that we do not have time to waste. That this is a reality for girls in Uganda.
Though this news was devastating, it has also kick-started the project to move faster than initially planned. If this project changes the circumstances of even just one girl, then all the hard work will have been worth it.
I want to take this opportunity to recognise the wonderful people at St Peter’s Woodlands who have supported me throughout my journey; Meredith Williams, Alastair Dow, Lynn Lee, Alan Young (a SPW grandparent/volunteer), Amanda Kelly, Jenny Richardson, Tina Day and Bryan Fletcher. Without these people and their generosity with support and donations, I would not have been able to run these projects. I am a 2013 graduate of SPW, but the support I have received from SPW has long surpassed my graduation day. The on-going encouragement to become a ‘citizen of the world’ has truly played such an integral part in the building of these projects and my personal journey.
Lastly, I am so proud of the Year 7 class of 2019 for their awesomeness! I can truly say that their hard work has played a huge part in running this project. I hope to keep in touch with them, sending photos from the workshop and stories of the girls they have impacted. They should be proud of themselves; they have set high standards for the classes that follow them
Often, we forget how lucky we are to live in Australia and receive high quality education. If we had been born in Uganda, our lives would be very different, especially as a girl. What if we used our own privilege to empower others? We are constantly seeking support so we can keep our projects going. No matter where we live, we ALL have a responsibility to empower girls in vulnerable communities as they become the women of tomorrow, and “the mothers of the Nation”.
To follow the project’s progress or get in contact with us, follow us on Instagram, @thegrlpwrproject
Thank you to Ruby Fahey, SPW Old Scholar, for sharing this story.