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GirlFoward Empowers Refugee Girls

Posted at 7:09 AM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 14:36:48-05

CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) --Twenty-four people are forced to flee their homes every minute. That’s 34,000 people a day. Now, a woman is helping make the transition a little easier for the refugees who end up in the United States.

Citizens of Afghanistan, Syria, Myanmar, Democratic Republic of Congo are fleeing their homes at alarming rates.

“Because of war. It’s a lot of war going on, so my family decided to move,” Eliza Inesse, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said. She came to the U.S. five years ago. Being in a new place, she had to learn things quick. That’s when she found GirlForward.

“All our girls have very different stories and very different experiences, but the things they really identify having in common is being in a completely new place,” Blair Brettschneider, Founder of GirlFoward, said.

She started it in 2011 to provide support to teen refugee girls who are thrown into an unfamiliar environment, face barriers such as language, disrupted education, and trauma. “All of these things make it really challenging to get used to living here, make new friends, to see and follow the dreams that you have for yourself,” Brettschneider told Ivanhoe.

GirlForward offers mentoring, tutoring, and safe spaces where girls can feel comfortable and open the door to new opportunities. But most importantly Brettschneider wants the girls to soar and “Feel confident in being able to pursue the future they want and know that there’s a whole community of women and girls that are behind them.”

Inesse has been coming to GirlForward since 2015 and recently just received her high school diploma. She is now looking forward to her future. “I’m hoping to go into medical field, so maybe like a nurse,” Inesse said.

GirlForward accepts girls into the program who are in the ninth to twelfth grade and they do not have a cut off of how long the girl would have to be in the U.S. to take part.

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