By Michael Lasalandra
As a volunteer for GTL, I write stories about the girls that we sponsor or are considering sponsoring. The stories are based on the girls’ application forms, their personal letters to us, their grades and the notes provided to us by their teachers or principals. The girls’ stories are always very moving. The girls are very poor, often have lost one or both parents to HIV or another illness and are facing lives of poverty and desperation since their chances of getting a high school education are slim to none without a GTL scholarship. Without at least a high school diploma, they are destined to become housekeepers or peasant farmers or marry someone they don’t really want to marry in order to produce a string of babies. The girls’ letters to us are generally very heartfelt and show they have a strong desire to better themselves, their families and their communities. But until last year, I was working strictly off documents. I didn’t really know the girls. That changed with my trip to Kenya and Uganda last year.
For the most part, our GTL girls proved to be very impressive. They are friendly and appreciative. They study hard. They want to succeed. Some were very shy, others very outgoing. Meeting many of them and interviewing them at their schools made me feel that what we are doing at GTL is truly worthwhile and good for the world. Africa is a magical place and the girls help make it so.
As part of this blog, I intend to give readers a glimpse of what I as a GTL volunteer experienced during my first and so far only trip to Africa in the hope that it helps make what we are doing come alive in a personal way.