Recently I’ve had the honour of crafting a spoken word piece in collaboration with Above & Beyond. Feel free to listen to it wherever you hear your music; below you’ll find the Spotify link to listen. Put on your headphones and get out in Nature if you can; it’s also great for work time.
Practice You Podcast: Episode 26: Eileen Flanigan
On the education and empowerment of adolescent girls as one of the keys to the future of the world.
With results such as improved economic growth, survival rates and health, reductions in population growth, educating and empowering girls and women is now at the forefront of my personal passions. Too often, well-intended charity creates dependence on outside sources. While we cannot solve problems at local levels, we CAN train girls and women in the communities where need is most profound, granting them the opportunity to solve the issues in their regions with integrity.
Girls on Fire Leaders is an organization dedicated to teaching girls to lead innovative social change in their own communities.
The core belief: solving our biggest problems requires educated girls, building communities of action, bonded to one another based on shared values – rather than based on race, ethnicity or tribe. Education is more empowering when gender equality, social emotional learning and the ability to solve complex social problems are emphasized. This is precisely what Girls on Fire Leaders has learned to do, with girls between the ages of six and sixteen years of age.
In East Africa, where corruption, conflict, rape, disease and abuse are rife, Girls on Fire Leaders is taking the initiative and changing lives, one girl at a time. Mentoring, elevating and inspiring the most vulnerable girls to solve such challenges and activating their community for support, this organization is helping these girls build resilience, empathy, leadership skills so they can navigate their transition into adulthood safely, with confidence and purpose.
The education of girls is about the early and focused nurturing of girls as precious resources, within communities of action that will drive the social change needed for human dignity and flourishing for all.
Who is A Girl On Fire?
We believe every girl can learn to be a leader. Our innate truth is love and service. In selecting girls to take part in the program, we ask three questions.
- Is there a spark of self-belief in this girl?
- Does she have a burning desire to see her community thrive?
- Is her vision is able to fuel her for the long term in the fight against corruption, bureaucracy, complacency, and the status quo?
Girls on Fire Leaders are primarily located in Kenya, living in Kibera and Mathare slums in Nairobi. Seventy percent of the girls are orphaned and/or victims of sexual violence, living with the realities of violence, HIV, early pregnancy, substance abuse and extreme poverty. There are also girls from the major ethnic tribes in rural Kenya and Tanzania, whose major challenges for girls are FGM (female genital mutilation), early child marriage, poverty and no access to quality education.
Meet Makesh. Due to her training with Girls on Fire Leaders, Makesh now teaches hundreds of girls weekly using my journal, Practice You, with writing exercises and yoga practices. True leaders like Makesh are emerging through self-study and girl-led education. We are disrupting the status quo, and as you can see with Makesh, the ripple effect is real.
Founder Eileen Flannigan conducts leadership camps for girls in the slums of Kibera. In order for girls to become women who build solutions for social change, our Healing Hands project in collaboration with doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation raised over $35k in September 2019 to cover the costs of educating and providing the girls with adventures and learning opportunities both at home and abroad. This is just the beginning. Girls on Fire is the only program in Kenya teaching leadership and social justice programs to girls as young as six years old.
How are Girls on Fire Creating The Next Generation of Leaders?
Together with community partners since 2014, Girls on Fire has delivered seven camps in four ethnic regions of Kenya and Tanzania, serving over 1,000 girls and 2,000 community members trained to catalyze social change.
The model is one of collaboration and interconnectedness.
The solution is to build a movement of girls, co created, co-designed and co-led by girls, uniting their voices across tribal lines, and amplifying the push for a larger and lasting shift in social dynamics and policy.
Girls on Fire runs year-round programming that works with local partners delivery quality education, such as schools and requires participation from teachers, parents and the entire community, which they do through:
- Comprehensive Camps (2-3x per year)
- Monthly leadership workshops
- Peer mentorship
- Leaders In Action – community projects
- School scholarships
- Innovation workshops
- Boys’ workshops
- Parent/ family workshops + home visits
Girls on Fire Leaders began with 23 small girls, and has become a vibrant network of leaders with the following outcomes:
Higher performance in school
Improved grades overall
Improved leadership skills and actively peer-mentor
Indicators such as confidence, self-expression, teamwork
Advancing skills for community organizing
The organization has unlocked global opportunities for the girls, who have now been:
Keynote speakers at United Nations in Kenya
Ambassadors and speakers for major HIV/AIDS Health Conference
Guests of honor at The Obama Foundation Fellowship Awards
Attending summer camps in United States
Attending high school in the United States
Our network of graduates will:
Actively contribute to local female leadership through community teaching, mentoring and organizing
Serve as talent pipelines for global corporations
Effect change locally or globally
Finish higher education to become a positive participant in global society
Offer jobs or opportunities for vulnerable girls
Increase diversity and inclusion throughout different sectors
Educating a girl in urban slums means she will earn more and invest 90% of earnings in her family, be three times less likely to contract HIV, and have fewer, healthier children who are more likely to reach adulthood (Erulkar, A., & Matheka, J. K. (2007), Adolescence in the Kibera Slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Population Council – The World Bank).
What’s been accomplished thus far?
- Built a library and reading program at an orphanage.
- Worked with World Wildlife Federation on conservationism of elephants.
- Adopted a baby elephant named Kamock, who was injured by poachers.
- Hygiene and wellness program for street kids at risk of disease.
- Community beautification; clean up and planted 100 trees in the slums.
- Brought food and a Girls on Fire Leaders workshop in the children’s hospital in Nairobi.
- Built a school garden out of recycled materials that feeds five needy families per week.
- Community beautification; cleaned up and planted 100 trees in the slums.
- Volunteered and saved sea turtles trapped in fisherman nets.
- Built a dorm for girls to be safe from FGM and early marriage
- Created peer advocacy groups to teach other girls how to fight for their rights.
- Planted trees in the rural village in Sambura with the girls running away from female genital mutilation.
- Community beautification; clean up and planted 100 trees in the slums.
- Community beautification; clean up and planted 100 trees in the slums.
- Led equality workshops with adolescent boys.
- Started a reading (and hugging) program for orphaned kids every Saturday.
- Led equality workshops with teenage boys in Kibera slum.
- Launched sanitary pad project for 123 girls in the schools.
- Launched trauma- informed yoga working with sexual abuse and refugee girls.
- Wellness + Leadership Camp for girls all over Kenya facing HIV, pregnancy and poor health outcomes.
Vision For The Future
By 2030, we will nurture and empower 10,000 Girls On Fire Leaders and build a movement of global girl leaders with a thriving network of change-makers.
As we scale, we have the opportunity to significantly reduce poor health and well-being outcomes and gender-based violence, while simultaneously massively increasing social and economic mobility and community development from within the 1 million people living in Kibera Slum and the 1.5 million people living in the 3 other communities.
We will do this by investing in early-adolescent girls to be the social change leaders in their communities and collaborating with women leaders to ensure we don’t have to wait for a generational turnover to witness a more just and equitable world.
Is Your Heart On Fire?
- DONATE – Donate anytime to our ongoing campaign to cover the costs of the girls’ educations and supplies.
- SPONSORSHIP – Be a Sponsor for our upcoming Wellness + Leadership Camp.
- LEADERSHIP COUNCIL – Be on the Girls On Fire Leadership Council; we’re actively gathering men and women from all different sectors and of all forms of leadership.
- FUNDRAISE WITH US
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com if you feel called to help.
It’s too late. We both know it.
I’ve just made a joke about what a shitty parent I am,
my twelve year old boy appreciates the joke with me.
We remember to think of the kids who unknowingly
live at that nuclear waste dump site in California.
We are lucky, and he is apologizing.
A little while ago he really handed it to me,
inappropriately; he’s sorry for acting like a jerk.
Now that I’m older (and done being ashamed afterwards),
I whispered instead of shouted. So he heard his own irrationality
in the ringing quiet.
I’m no longer there to meet him
in the electrical charge of anger; I’m listening.
And as he apologizes,
I hold his feet.
I make it safe.
and when he asks
“Why are you being nice to me;
I should be holding your feet,”
I say, “Why should you
suffer your mistake
any more than you’re already making yourself suffer?”
May 2019, In Honour of All Who Mother
On the ethos, efficacy and service of doTERRA; as a company, a community and a creative source for so many of us.
Over seven million of us to date have experienced benefit from the use of doTERRA Essential Oils. We didn’t purchase it in a store; we were taught by someone who’d learned about the compounds, and was willing to share with us. The company thrives with this futuristic business model; our success depends on our willingness to learn, teach and most importantly, collaborate.
Would you prefer to compensate the head of a company who’s not been in contact with their products in years? Or would you rather pay your colleague or friend who’s been diligently studying, discovering their own personal results and teaching what works? Would you like to support your friend as they endeavor to grow a team of their own to support their family?
doTERRA leads in the world of network marketing because the business structure lends itself to an evolution we’ve all longed for: in this business model, committed teachers can become accomplished, well-compensated leaders. I wish that were true in our schools.
And what makes the Oils so easy to share? The transparency of quality testing is irrefutable. Every liter must match a specific therapeutic chemical profile; there’s no room for error. The testing is done by outside labs, so consistency and purity are unmatched. Which is why every time you compare a bottle of doTERRA Oil to a bottle you’ve found at the grocery store, you’ll smell the difference instantly. That unmistakably sharp, chemical odor from the grocery store bottle indicates the presence of chemical extenders, fillers, and other machine-made compounds. And your doTERRA bottle smells like plants, like Earth, like protection, like home.
Were you aware that 95% of the oils on the market today contain traces of chemical compounds that are not plant matter? But not doTERRA.
How do we create such high quality, pure plant essences? We source solely from small farmers worldwide who share our vision of purity, ethical growing and harvesting practices, and reciprocity with Mother Earth. Those farmers are paid well, and not just at harvest time but at other times of the year, to support their family and the local economy.
We are designing and generating a future in which all families receive medical care and all children receive an education. In this company, proper healthcare is the ultimate aim, service and science are the means.
Service is one of the primary reasons why I’m using my voice here. After personally taking part in the largest reforestation project in the state of Hawaii, and visiting a local clinic serving children with special needs in Mexico, I realized that service is why doTERRA is so successful, unmatched by any other company of its kind. I will never forget those experiences; both have radically altered my ways of seeing and being in the world. Every year our advocates visit several countries to learn and serve. And every time you order one bottle of Oil, you’re helping countless families – that of the farmer, the harvester, the distiller, the packer, and the teacher who introduced you to the oils, just to name a few.
Science has shown me the unquestionable efficacy of the Oils. From the National Institute of Health comes copious research on the thousands of studies conducted on the effects of the compounds in the Oils – enhancing sleep, mitigating anxious feelings, easing emotional unrest, soothing seasonal discomfort, and more. I dare you to google any discomfort small or large along with “PubMed” for the science – it’s all there online. Aromatic Science is also a great place to learn if you’re so inclined.
doTERRA’s larger dream is coming true – Prime Meridian Healthcare Clinics are opening across the States this year. How magnificent to consider paying a reasonable monthly fee for your family to have access to capable, caring doctors both in person and virtually, who can spend thirty to sixty minutes with you to help you design ways to practice preventive health care, DAILY. What a wonder to experience our doctors offering us the original essences of the plants to explore prior to their chemically-altered cousins known as over-the-counter drugs. This is how we begin caring for ourselves prior to illness, prior to the acute urgency. This is my personal dream, and this is doTERRA’s grander mission.
And the one wish we all share – for friendships and community beyond the screen – this is what we build in our work every day. Both within my own team and beyond, my friends here are formidable, nurturing, generous, and powerful. The work we do together, the materials we generate, the talks, the presence, the community we create – I will be growing old with this crew. You know who you are. I know you’ve got me, and you know I’ve got you.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to learn more.