Angelique and Claudine were the first girls who showed up to our teen girls group last summer. It only seemed right that they name the group they were helping us create. They chose Gukura, which means “to grow” in their native language Kinyarwanda.
Growing is exactly what we’ve been doing since then. We’ve been growing in number, but also growing in the things that matter most: relationships with each other, in knowledge, and our love for the community we live in.
Every month we choose a different theme to focus on. In March, we talked about business and entrepreneurship. Our group met with the founders and owners of Munyagwa and Progressive African Hair Braiding. They heard about the hard work that goes in to creating a business and were able to ask questions.
For February's Art theme, we attended a Ladysmith Black Mambazo concert at Calvin as a group. The Calvin gospel choir opened for them and sang songs from West and East Africa. During one of the Swahili songs, I could hear a Gukura member singing along in her first language. This event was a perfect opportunity to step outside the usual spheres of school and home and also see African culture being celebrated and appreciated in their new city.
In January, we talked about setting goals for ourselves and as a group of how we will grow this year. The girls stuck their name on a sticky note to which theme they were most interested in helping to plan for the year. With the generosity of Passion Planner, we were also able to hand out a planner to each member and go through some exercises of thinking about our personal goals and how to achieve them.
For December’s Service theme, we made baby blankets for a local organization, Safe Haven, that provides shelter and services to survivors of abuse. We talked about the importance of knowing these organizations in our town where we can refer friends who are in trouble.
Because of your gifts and the growth of Gukura, we’re excited to announce another way we’re growing. Clementine Sikiri is the instrumental leader who has volunteered her time and leadership to get this teen girls group off the ground. She’ll now be an employee of Treetops, spending 20 hours each week investing more deeply into the lives of the girls in Gukura and offering support to our cross-cultural Sister Circles program.
All of this is only possible with your help. A gift of $100 allows one young woman to attend a monthly class PLUS receive mentorship from both a non-refugee woman and refugee woman through our Sister Circles program. Thank you from all of us at Treetops for your continued support! We are so grateful for you. Make your gift monthly and help us grow this opportunity for newcomers like Angelique and Claudine.
Do you know someone who might like to join the Gukura group? Email Clementine@treetopscollective.org to refer her.