Josephine is a student at Kameji Primary School & a recipient of a GYB uniform. She is currently in the 8th grade (her final year of primary school). Josephine is an exceptionally bright student who not only scores in the top of her school, but has some of the highest scores in the entire location, which consists of 13 primary schools in her hometown of Lwala, Kenya. In a community where girls often don't even complete primary school due to lack of importance placed on girl's education, lack of uniform, and being over burdened by household chores, it is particularly impressive that she is scoring higher than many of the boys in the community.
Josephine not only faces the typical challenges that other girls in the community face, she was also orphaned by her father when he passed from AIDS and often must care for her mother who regularly falls ill. Josephine lives at home with her mother and two younger siblings who she must help out with as well. Despite all of these challenges, she has continued to strive to continue on in her education.
Josephine says that being given a new school uniform has allowed her to continue attending school on a regular basis even though her mother could not afford one for her. She attributes the greater amount of time she is able to spend at school and in class with how she has been able to reach such high scores. At the end of the year, her scores will make her eligible to apply for a high school scholarship in Kenya which will allow her to continue her education even though her family cannot afford the cost of high school. We are proud to support Josephine and help her on her journey to ultimately reach her goal of becoming a lawyer one day.
Would you like to help girls just like Josephine see their dreams become reality? It all starts with a school uniform. Get involved by making a simple donation today.
In July 2011, I travelled to N.W. Haiti on a vision trip for Got Your Back. Typically, these trips are used to gather invaluable information concerning the problems, challenges & any hurdles we may potentially face in any new area we are planning to work in. I’ve been on a bunch of these types of trips before and I’d been to Haiti before, but this was my first time to the N.W. Region.
Now, typically, these trips are pretty straightforward. You visit some schools, meet headmasters & teachers, interview potential tailors, conduct various levels of community assessments, work through some logistics with the on-ground partner, meet a lot of locals, and hug a ton of kids. This trip really wasn’t any different in that regard.
I’ve been on multiple trips to 3rd World Countries and I’ve certainly been exposed to many forms of extreme poverty. There’s not too much I’m shocked by, no matter where I go. But something about this trip was different. Something got me... and no it wasn’t malaria.
As you may know, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. It’s remained in a constant state of arrested development for almost two centuries. The entire country was in shambles long before the now famous earthquake and to this date many are still forced to live in tents. The earthquake not only compounded problems and added additional strain on the already struggling infrastructure, but it also did something very important. It raised the visibility of a struggling country and projected Haiti to the forefront of the public eye… even if only for a few short moments.
The N.W. Region of Haiti is the poorest part of Haiti, which makes it the poorest place this side of the planet. Many would even argue that this area is THE poorest place on earth. It’s difficult to travel throughout this region due to poorly unmarked roads or lack thereof. The whole area is somewhat isolated from access to materials, goods, and common necessities for life. Needless to say, I knew I’d be facing something new, something unique.
During my time there, I bounced all over the area. I visited numerous communities, villages and towns. I interviewed a large number of women for tailoring jobs, visited potential partner schools and never slept in the same town more than once. Our on-ground partner, Help Heal Haiti/NWHCM, has been active in the N.W. for more than 30 years and they themselves have programs in over 35 communities throughout the region. It was vital that I was exposed to a wide range of locations so I could gather as much information as possible to help establish a solid strategy for our expansion into this area.
The Haitian people are resilient and unshaken. They are predominately young, ambitious and determined. 42% are 14 years old or younger. Yet, 50% of all school-aged children are not enrolled in school. 30% of kids will never make it past the 3rd Grade and 60% will never make it past the 6th. 1 out of every 3 girls past the age of 6 years old will NEVER even attend school at all.
Any way that you look at it, those numbers are alarming.
Education is VITAL to Haiti’s economic growth & long-term sustainability. I’m excited that we have the ability to provide a life-changing opportunity for the children of Haiti. Access to school, through the provision of school uniforms, is the pathway towards a hopeful, sustainable future.
The reason this trip was different for me from many others before it, was because, for the first time, I experienced the intangible properties of an attribute I had often only read about and rarely caught mere glimpses of before. I witnessed firsthand the hope that is alive in the youth of Haiti, even amongst those in the most extreme of situations.
In N.W. Haiti, although it’s shrouded in a darkened cloud of poverty, hope lives. Hope transcends problems and lights a pathway through the darkness. Hope silences naysayers and breaks down walls. Hope perseveres in trials and thrives in despair. This hope is the light that will drive the darkness of poverty away from Haiti forever.
Our on-ground partner is the largest N.G.O. (Non-Government Organization) in all of N.W. Haiti. Alongside them, over the upcoming years, we will have the ability to affect tens of thousands of children’s lives and radically change Haiti forever.
I hope that you will join us in the movement to make education possible for every child in N.W. Haiti.
-Will Hill - Executive Director
Hi friends! I am sitting in a Target parking lot in Atlanta, GA and wanted to give you some insight on how the first couple of weeks of tour went for me personally. I’m not going to lie, after we left Nashville for tour, I was thinking “oh crap, what did I get myself into?”. I am one to always stick to what I know, and never really challenge myself to new things. Public speaking is not my thing. If you were to look up the definition of a public speaker, my name would be nowhere to be found. However, I knew this was a major requirement for the internship, so I challenged myself to not think about my own insecurities, but to focus on being the voice that these children greatly deserve. The first couple of speeches were very entertaining, but I think the girls and I are starting to get the hang of things.
I honestly feel like I am actually beginning to make a small difference in the world, and the best part is, it is not for me! I love being apart of something that is for someone else. Getting to know Rachel and Brooke has been amazing. We are quickly becoming a beautiful little family of 3, and are super stoked to see what the end result of the Fall tour will be.
So far, Reggie has faithfully taken us to New Orleans, Florida, and we just got to Atlanta tonight. We have been blessed to speak at a variety of places such as churches, youth groups, high schools, etc. It has been amazing to meet people and hear their excitement about Got Your Back, and how it has impacted them. We would greatly appreciate your prayers as we continue to travel from city to city for the next 6 weeks!
We are excited to introduce you to Lydia & Brooke... our Fall Ground Force Crew.
Hi, my name is Lydia Woodward. I was born and raised in the lovely land of Iowa, and moved to Nashville 2 years ago. I love many things like traveling, dancing, makeup, baking, Fall, sewing...oh, and anything chocolate! I was previously a clothing boutique owner and fashion designer, but I felt God pushing me to search for something bigger. I have always had a passion to help change the world in some way, but never really knew the answer. That answer soon came when I was in Jamaica on a mission trip, and became aware of the fact that children were unable to attend school if they did not have the right school uniforms, therefore never earning an education. So, as you can imagine, I was super stoked to have come across Got Your Back, and knew I had to get involved! I am honored to be able to work along side GYB this fall, and be a voice for such deserving children.
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HEY YALL , I'm Brooke Brown. I'm from Jacksonville,FL. Some quick things about me... I love Disney and sweet tea a WHOLE LOT! I left my wonderful job at MAC Cosmetics to live in a RV for the next 7 weeks. It's my heart's desire to be a voice for these children. I'm so captured by all of the hope that GYB is giving to these beautiful children. Education really is everything. We're just starting the second tour with GYB. We will get to connect with so many awesome people. I'm ready to be challenged and inspired. Knowing that i will be forever changed by this season of my life.
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All right friends, its Rachel here reporting for the Got Your Back Ground Force: Fall edition. Y'all didn't hear from me this summer because...well, to be honest, Elyse and Andrea are sensational bloggers and I was intimidated! We left Nashville on Tuesday and started heading towards New Orleans. It was bitter sweet living back on Reggie. I miss Elyse being my day maker. She always had this overwhelming energy about her that could make anyone and everyone smile. I miss Andrea singing and dancing around all day. I miss my little brother figure, Justin. I actually called him earlier to tell him how my world had been rocked today, since I know he loves hearing about that! All he had to say was "well, I hope you do terrible tonight." That means we are still friends! Lastly, and almost mostly, I miss Daniel! The most intense person I've ever been around but also the most uplifting when needed. I miss his passion and energy when it comes to tour. He told one of the fall interns today "give all of yourself when you meet people and show them your heart and live the tour when you're on it". As simple as that sounds its a powerful piece of advice when you're out here.
This is my second tour with GYB. At the end of this year, Ill have lived on Reggie for 5 months! Dang. Im lucky enough to be on the road with my best friend, Brooke Brown. This has been part of our dream since we met. God has given her a heart that, at times, might be too big for her small measures. Then we have the newest edition to the GYB family, Lydia Woodward. She and I share a similar shy demeanor on public scenarios. She definitely already a little sister. Not that she needs more because she is the youngest of 6 girls.
Tonight we presented a youth group with a 25 minute Got Your Back presentation. Will and I set up a presentation this past week and I've been all but dedicating my time to learning it. The three of us were super nervous and avoiding public speaking (normally, Id have Andrea for this) so we set up a mini theatre in the RV and rehearsed for 2 hours. After finally feeling secure enough to get in front of 30 high school kids, we DTDT (for those of you newbies, thats "did the damn thing")! There is no question that God singlehandedly picked the three of us for this tour. We are being challenged as individuals and activists. We did awesome together. Our first event provided half a classroom with uniforms.
Like I said, today was the first day of our seven week fall tour. Keep us in your prayers as we travel the east coast in Reggie trying to grow our movement and show love to some kids who just want to go to school. Check our our Ground Force page to see if we will be in a city near you!!
We are thrilled to announce our new partnership with Alternative Apparel. Alternative is the industry-leading fashion basics brand known best for its unparalleled comfort and quality craftsmanship. Together we have created a brand new 'Show Love' shirt printed exclusively on Alternative's Eco-Heather 1973 Short Sleeve Crew Shirt.
“Millions of children around the world do not have access to an education, simply because they cannot afford school uniforms,” said Alternative CEO Evan Toporek. “By partnering with the Got Your Back Movement, our goal is to offer a pathway for children to gain an education and a chance at pursuing a better, safer and healthier life.”
Currently this design is offered in Eco-Red & Eco-Blue. As always, with every shirt purchased, we provide a school uniform to a child in need, in turn granting children across the world access to education.
Join us in the movement to make education possible for every child!
We've been to four festivals thus far and we've begun to find a rhythm for how these kinds of festivals tend to go. The landscape changes but the set remains the same. We spent the better part of 10 days hand crafting a stellar booth design before leaving for our tour this summer. (Perhaps you've seen photos: www.facebook.com/gybmovement) Though it can be a beast to unload, it looks great once it's firmly established. Aside from our trusty RV, Reggie, it's one of the only constants in our rogue existence.
But we're getting better at expecting variables and running with them. On the pendulum from rookie to veteran, let's just say we're swinging closer to the veteran side of things these days.
Enter: Warped Tour.
Everything is different. It's a quick and dirty one day event. A drive up, load-in, sell-shirts, load-out, drive-the-heck-out-of-town kind of deal. The bands are different. The available booth space is different. Trying to do our bosses proud, we're trying to be super flexible.
To be honest, much of our team was quite frustrated learning the Warped Tour ways this morning. Like the first day of anything, it can be a bit awkward. One person on staff said they could kick us off for trespassing because we were there too early, only to find out all of the OTHER non-profits were told to come two hours earlier. And it turns out they had a whole non-profit tent that we weren't a part of. Flashbacks to middle school sleepovers come to mind.
We were the odd ones out. Like the first day of school, no one knew who we were. What we did. Why we were there. Why we had shirts that included the word "love" on them. And nobody really wanted to know. Needless to say, it was a tough crowd. In all fairness, LOVE is a 4 letter word. So in that sense, it fit right in perfectly.
So the black sheep known as Got Your Back decided to find pasture on a grassy knoll near the Advent Stage. (Oh the irony.) It wasn't much like Christmas in there. We constructed a mini-version of our display and started telling our story. It was definitely a "make it work" moment; Tim Gunn would be so proud.
OUR plan would've been to have our WHOLE setup pristinely in tact in the non-profit tent. GOD's plan had us feeling a bit sheepish, a little more vulnerable. It was, however, much more visible. Thankfully, our plan did not come to pass. And BECAUSE our plan did not happen, we had the lovely opportunity to meet Pierre Bouvier - our new favorite frenchman.
You may know him as the lead singer of the band SIMPLE PLAN.
He stumbled across our booth and decided to dive in to our GOT YOUR BACK family. He thought he was just buying some cool shirts, only to find out that he had provided children in poverty with the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to get an education. He even stopped by just before going on stage for their set to show us he was repping one of our shirts!
We loved having an excuse to head over to the main stage to take some photos of SIMPLE PLAN's set. They put on an awesome live show! Meeting them today was super encouraging. These guys are the real deal. If you want to show them some love, download some of their music on the iTunes.
We had our plan, God had another. And His plan today included a GYB Movement / Simple Plan collaboration. To borrow a line from Friday Night Lights, we are now driving to Detroit with clear eyes and full hearts (can't lose!)
We were humbled and reminded that God cares about the poor and marginalized kids we are hoping to put in school. They are his children. And he even cares about a rag-tag team of twenty-somethings, as imperfect as they can be, traveling from town to town like gypsies with a cause. We are His kids too. HE is working right alongside us, behind the scenes. He knows what we need.
So bring it on Warped Tour! God is so good. Hope to show you guys some love this week.
“This doesn’t happen in cities,” Andrea Howat.
You know those horror films where a group of young twenty-somethings find themselves stuck in a precarious situation, such as in a dark forest in the middle of nowhere with no place to run?
Well, our GYB family just lived through such an occasion.
Driving through the night to make it to our next destination, the road trip seemed to have been going well. A mini dance party was taking place in the front cabin, while our sleepy team members caught up on some much needed rest in the back.
To avoid having to sleep in Reggie, who is being terribly temperamental at the moment, dear Daniel called up one of his close friends who happened to live nearby. Thrilled by the news that we would be sleeping in civilization, we all looked forward to our impending arrival.
With our eyes glued to our trusty Tom Tom, we all became alert as we began to creep closer to our destination. With each passing mile we started to take in our surroundings. The first sign of entering into a horror-like setting was an eerie bridge where Justin oh so kindly slowed down to further the suspense. From this point on the night became a disarray of terror, laughter and some pretty amazing one-liners.
The driver at the time, Justin, continued to follow the road. But within minutes we found that we had obviously missed our turn, no thanks to Tom Tom. Surrounded by looming trees in the early hours of the morning, we soon became skittish as we realized that there was no easy way of turning our 31-foot home around.
Literally pushing the reluctant Justin and Daniel out of Reggie, Rachel took control as she managed a 60-point turn with direction from the boys who were yelling from the middle of a dark and scary forest.
After many attempts, we were turned back in the correct direction, hallelujah. As we all frantically huddled in the front cabin of Reggie, Daniel was ranting about the whereabouts of a particular red government issued trash bin that would lead us home. Along the way we passed by hair-raising monuments, such as a random ladder chilling in the middle of a thicket, a run-down barn with a visible basement and bars on the windows, a metal farming machine that looked like it could be the end of us all and a spastic dog that sent us all flying out of our seats while screaming as if we had just seen a ghost.
Pulling ourselves together, in the distance we were able to spot that darn red trash bin Daniel kept chattering on and on about. Finally, we found our way to our temporary home, safe and sound.
Our team found its way back into civilization and is now indulging in cell service, wi-fi and an endless supply of electricity and water.
The Alive Festival was definitely an experience. I believe all of us can say that we are now professionals at semi-roughing it; port-o-potties and portable showers have nothing on us.
After a long week of being in mud up to our ankles, it was nice to pull into Columbus, OH for a couple days of rest and relaxation. We had a beautiful time with our host family, cooking out, making s’mores, playing on the tire swing, watching a movie in the great outdoors and building a pretty epic fort in Reggie.
Refreshed and ready to go, we found ourselves on the road once more as we made our way to Bushnell, IL for the Cornerstone Festival. Before driving seven hours in the middle of the night, we made a quick stop at the airport to pick up our new GYB family member, Mr. Daniel Botticelli. We are all super excited to welcome Daniel into our family, and we cannot wait to introduce him to all of you.
Now, at Cornerstone, we are surrounded by cornfields and hard-core music. Our team is looking forward to a week where we have the opportunity to spread passion about the Got Your Back Movement with an entirely new group of people.