Observing that Petit Trou's Youth Needed More Options, Darline Got to Work
Darline Nicolas’ dedication to women and girls in Petit Trou was undeniable as she animatedly described to CHP last year the importance of creating supportive opportunities for teenagers in the community. “We have to provide other paths, other options, safe spaces,” she remarked in our previous post introducing her, as she shared how many teenage girls she knows who are too often faced with the impossible decision of whether to accept money for school fees and other education costs from men who approach them in exchange for sex and/or other abusive relationship behaviors.
Darline certainly walks her talk; she just wrapped up a busy August managing Petit Trou’s two-week summer camp at St. Paul’s school. Offered to both girls and boys, the camp focused on girls’ empowerment (and why boys should care about it too), agriculture, and entrepreneurship. (Schneider and Jameson, also featured here on Year in the Life, facilitated agriculture activities at the camp.) Older youth also attended sessions on sexual and reproductive health, covering life skills to navigate challenging situations like the one Darline described to us.
Under Darline’s leadership, the Girls Empowerment and Mentoring (GEM) Program also continues to thrive. She supervises six professional adult mentors who work individually and in groups at both St. Paul’s School and two other high schools in the region. The program supports up more than 100 girls, offering activities like yoga and singing that create connections to a supportive and trustworthy network of peers and adults for girls to turn to when faced with dilemmas.
The GEM Program not only provides meaningful opportunities the the young women participants, but also its adult mentors. Micheline Francois, a former volunteer with GEM, was recently promoted to a professional mentor position in the program. Both Micheline and Darline have grand visions for the future of the program, which we look forward to updating you on in our upcoming entries! In the meantime, join us in cheering on Darline, Micheline, and all involved in GEM!