Today as I sat around the brainstorming table with my colleagues in the office, pondering what I could give up for the month of September for our 30 Days for 30 Girls fundraising campaign it dawned on me how lucky I am to be able to choose what I go without.
It wasn’t an easy decision. Do I go without wine? Watching Game of Thrones? Take away lunches? I’d gladly give up my high heels and my hair straightener for a month, but really all that would do is relieve my poor hair and feet from torture for a month. Giving up driving to catch public transport was too impractical with my job. I’d love to go without a phone – if only my team would let me!
Jessica Brown CEO of the Life Changing Experiences Foundation. Image: Mamamia.com.au
So in the end we decided that I would go without buying anything new (for a whole month!). I’m not too proud to say that going without my retail therapy for 30 days was more than a little bit daunting – but I wanted to genuinely challenge myself and experience how it feels to really want something and not be able to buy it for myself. In essence, I wanted to walk a month in another woman’s shoes (just not new ones).
I couldn’t help think where I would be if the stork had dropped me off at another address? Would I have had the opportunities in life that I have now? People who love and care for me? A safe home and a steady job where I can independently provide for my basic needs?
Big and Little Sisters from the SISTER2sister program. Image: Life Changing Experiences Foundation.
What if I had no choice about what I went without? In fact what if I didn’t have the choice about my own personal safety and what if I was so disempowered that I didn’t believe I had the power of choice in life or the power to change my circumstances?
Sadly, this is the reality for many of the marginalised teenage girls the SISTER2sister program, a program I set up specifically to empower vulnerable teenage girls to make positive choices for a better future for themselves. 60% of the girls we support do not feel safe in their own homes. Many live with abuse, neglect and suffer or relive trauma on a daily basis with their basic needs not being met. They are without security, a consistent positive adult in their life and often lack friendship and human connection due to their default lack of trust.