Thanks to the generosity of the Starbucks Shared Planet Youth Action Grant, Emerge has been able to launch three programs for 25 girls at Haven, a home managed by the Salvation Army in Sri Lanka: our Beads-to-Business, Life Skills, and Mentorship Programs. The girls have already learned about money and budgeting, writing a resume, interviewing for a job, nutrition, protecting the environment, crisis management, leadership and community engagement. Currently, participants are finishing a 10-week reproductive health curriculum funded by International Youth Foundation where they are learning about puberty, reproduction, contraceptives, STIs and HIV/AIDS, as well as many other important topics. The girls have also been visited by Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka to reinforce the lessons as well as to connect them with youth-friendly service providers around Sri Lanka. The Director of Human Resources at Abans, one of Sri Lanka’s leading conglomerates, also visited the home. He spoke to the girls about a variety of potential jobs such as nursing, teaching, and serving tea, and explained the qualifications needed and the process for applying for each of them. He also spoke about his personal experience growing up in poverty and how he had achieved his own goals despite many obstacles. In the Beads-to-Business program, many of the girls are in Stage 3 out of 4. They have learned to create jewelry, do basic math, manage a budget, and organize inventory. They have played “banker” in the Emerge Bank simulation and “shopkeeper” in the Emerge Store simulation. In Stage 3, girls are now designing their own jewelry products and being guided through the process of creating a business plan for their own jewelry design. They are tackling concepts such as logo development, cost evaluation and pricing, and marketing. They will then go on to plan a business unrelated to jewelry design in Stage 4. Through the Emerge Beads-to-Business program, the girls at Haven have collectively generated $4996 in savings in the first six months of the program. They have also helped us launch our new “Girls 4 Girls” program by designing and creating a brand new line of children’s bracelets. Through Girls 4 Girls, girls around the world can now support the girls of Emerge with beautiful party favors at their birthday parties.
Emerge has also launched its first-ever Mentorship Program at Haven with an impressive and dedicated inaugural class of mentors. This has been a long-term goal of Emerge, finally made possible by the support of Starbucks. Mentors visit the home once a month to enable participants to develop safe and healthy relationships with women in the community who offer support and guidance. Mentorship sessions have included a variety of educational and fun activities, including designing clothing out of scrap materials, creating basic business plans, designing bracelets, reading stories, and more. Emerge mentors have also become ambassadors for our programs and have spread important awareness about our work in the Colombo area while also supporting Emerge at jewelry sales and more. One girl (who we will identify by her initials as PMIPR) has left the program. She joined Emerge at our annual reunion where she was able to connect with other program alumna from all the homes Emerge works in. Our Program Coordinator is now supporting her in applying for a job and she embarks on her independent life. We are excited about our upcoming 6 months working in Haven, in which girls will plan and implement their own community project using skills developed through the Life Skills Program and some funds generated through the Beads-to-Business program. After receiving feedback from our first batch of mentors, they are eager to continue working with the girls for the rest of the year. Girls will also continue developing important business skills, with increasing emphasis on applying skills learned to plan and achieve their own business aspirations beyond Emerge.