Quest for Girl Scout Gold Enriches American and Zimbabwe Teens

Years of being a Girl Scout prepared Nyla Mpofu to serve others. When Nyla applied for the annual Girl Scout Gold Award, the organization’s highest and most prestigious prize, she decided to help girls thousands of kilometers away, in Africa.

The idea behind Nyla’s project was providing girls in Zimbabwe with various personal health products, and the ultimate goal is raising awareness about health and hygiene.

With the help of a group of her schoolmates, Nyla made a collection of boxes and distributed them around her neighborhood in Sterling, Virginia. The 16-year-old high school student made those boxes available for people to donate personal health products.

After that, I started receiving donations and mostly getting the word out with my friends. Then, they told their parents and stuff, she says.

Months of generous donations resulted in mountains of daily essentials and feminine hygiene products she needed for the project such as toothbrush and paste, towels, underwear and bras.

The journey

Nyla was not alone. Her friends helped her put the items into small packages. She also received support from Help for Others, a local non-profit run by her mother. I supported her in helping with the flyers, just helping her get the word out and connecting her with individuals in Zimbabwe, Gloria Mpofu says.

Nyla traveled to Zimbabwe and met with teen girls in suburban areas — distributing the donated care packages and holding a seminar on hygiene.

Her mother, who accompanied her, says the idea was encouraging girls to make healthy choices in their daily lives, and that these choices could prevent diseases and help improve the quality of life.

She talked about how it’s important simple things like washing your hands, brushing teeth and just being able to maintain a clean environment can help girls and women in the community just have a healthier life, Mpofu adds.

Nyla also gave printed information to the participants, so they can take the information and teach their young siblings or just for themselves, to have knowledge about hygiene, the menstrual cycle and all that, she said.

Looking forward

A project that began as a way to help girls in Zimbabwe ended up showing Nyla her potential.

I, maybe, realized that I can do so much and not to think lower about any situation I’m in because of taking the lead and this role and planning those events and things like that, Nyla adds. So, it was a great impact.

The sweet memory of the trip, she says, is priceless.

The winners of the Girl Scout Gold Award will be announced in August. The award is given to fewer than 6% of Girl Scouts annually, according to the organization. Since 1916, about one million girls have received the honor or its equivalent, according to the Girl Scouts. The winners spent one to two years on their projects.

Source: Voice of America

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