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Meet Our Girls

by Debra Dawson


Meet Our Girls


It’s easy to put people and things into categories. We do it to break down information, to understand a sub-culture, to address safety and basic needs, and to just help our brains quickly process things. This makes it harder to see the individuals that make up a group. It can be tempting to categorize our ASAH girls as South Sudanese orphaned girls that we help Protect, Educate, and Empower. They have similar stories, but they are unique individuals with a fierce determination. And yet they are still young girls.

I wanted to learn so much about them and who they are as individuals! While Deb was in Uganda last month my intern, Mari, and I came up with a questionnaire for them to help us do just that.

Our idea is to have a Friday blog post a few times a month that features an individual girl and her answers to our questions. It will be a place to share a favorite food, explain about their favorite animal and talk about the people who they find to be the most influential in their life. I want to really show who they are as individuals! They were excited to fill out the questionnaires because want to be known for who they are. I was so happy to read them all when I got them back!

The ASAH girls range from second grade through senior year in school, so they had a variety of answers for us. We wanted to create a platform for their voices to be heard and their individuality to shine. Being that they are young girls from a war-torn country without parents, we wanted to keep the questions light and not upset them further. My mother is still grappling with PTSD from being a teenager in Burundi during the 1972 genocide, so awareness of possible triggers is constantly on my mind. As light as the questions we put forth were, the experiences that these girls have had has colored their world view and continually affects them. While all the girls express hope, some replied with sobering answers to the most basic of questions.

I believe that we shouldn’t conveniently edit out their voices. Their experiences, trauma, hope, and happiness make them who they are. They should be the ones to tell their story and what is important to them, and it’s our job to be unflinching advocates in support of them. I am so proud of these girls! Some of their answers made me cry, some made my heart so happy; I love all of it. You should be proud of them too.

About the Author

Debra DawsonDebra Dawson

Deb Dawson is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, businesswoman, teacher, humanitarian, and philanthropist. She holds a B.S. Ed. in Education and English, and an MFA in Creative Writing. Her role as mother to biological, step, and internationally adopted children led her to write When Love is Not Enough, a memoir about the way mothers and daughters forge relationships in the face of tremendous obstacles.


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