Emily Bronstein started The Seraphine Project, partnering with Global Sojourns Giving Circle in Zambia and Zimbabwe in order to lead and lend a hand in any way she could. Now in ninth grade, Emily has grown her project, writing a blog, and visiting the very communities she partners with. As a Moondance alumni, Emily loves a good adventure and strives to lead in any situation she may find herself.
In January 2017, I was introduced to an amazing organization called Global Sojourns Giving Circle. They have created clubs in southern Africa in order to mentor at-risk girls living in extreme poverty. Many of the girls have limited family or strong support networks in their lives. These girls are extraordinarily bright, yet they face many difficult challenges that could limit their access to a bright future. Strong female role models called “Aunties” lead the clubs. Aunties help the girls navigate the most troubling issues they may face, enforcing the importance of self-esteem, confidence, education, and hygiene.
In honor of my Bat Mitzvah, I started The Seraphine Project to help raise awareness for these incredible girls. Seraphine is my middle name. Figuratively, Seraphine means “angels of light” and literally means “fiery ones.” I wanted to personally make an impact while simultaneously create a way to engage with other girls my age. I felt that The Seraphine Project would be a perfect way to do this. Starting in 2017, I set my goal to fund one club for a year. In lieu of gifts for my Bat Mitzvah, I requested that people make a donation to The Seraphine Project. Thanks to an abundance of support from extended family members and friends, I was able to raise more than my initial goal. In 2018, The Seraphine Project funded two clubs. This was an incredible feeling. Inspired by the generosity of others, I wanted to do more.
Traditionally, following a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, you celebrate with a big party. We chose to celebrate differently. My family and I set out for Africa to meet some of The Seraphine Project girls. While in Zimbabwe, we had the very special opportunity to visit a number of the clubs, enjoying time with the girls and Aunties. I was able to gain an even better understanding of both the lives of the girls, and the meaningful impact the clubs are having on them. After spending time there, I realized a pressing need for a confidential, safe space within the clubs where Aunties can meet one on one with individual girls as serious issues come up.
Currently, the clubs meet in open classrooms at their schools, or in village huts. Although this is better than nothing, a smaller, more private space would allow girls a confidential setting to talk. Therefore, I made the decision that my awareness building and fundraising efforts for this past year (2018) would go towards funding this space. Both Aunties and girls in the community could use it to access educational resources, internet, hygiene supplies, or just meet safely with other strong girls facing similar situations.
As I already mentioned, Seraphine is my middle name. To me, “being a Seraphine girl” applies equally to girls we are supporting AND those who take action to support those in need. “Fiery ones” and “angels of light” proudly stand up for ourselves and deeply care about other girls. We are confident, kind, caring, and, most importantly, we look out for others. I think The Seraphine Project is truly about creating “Seraphine Girls” all around the world who share these qualities.
After visiting Africa just over a year ago, my life has been impacted forever. Before arriving, I tried to picture what the girls’ communities would look like. But, it was so different than anything I imagined. These incredible girls permanently altered my perception of the world. Many of the girls in Africa walk several miles to and from school every day, while I tend to complain if my mom is five minutes late to pick me up. In the areas of Africa where the girls live, the power is often shut off between six and seven at night. I’m so used to constantly having the ability to walk into a room and turn on a light. When our power unexpectedly went out a few nights ago, it felt as if there was nothing to do without wifi or electricity.
There are so many things I take for granted in my life. The Seraphine girls are a constant reminder of what I have and how I can help. Spending time in Africa, and my experience with the girls, has broadened my exposure to the world. The girls are so brave and strong, and proud of where they live. I still have so much to learn from them. The Seraphine Project has made me more thankful for the life I live every single day.
During this season of giving, I would like to challenge everyone to keep in mind the girls in Africa who participate in the clubs. I also challenge you to be mindful of people within your local schools and communities who may be less fortunate. Although financial support is wonderful and goes a long way, sometimes, the simple act of a hug, or a smile goes even further. In this season of giving, I ask you to think about what “being a seraphine girl” means in your life.
– Emily Bronstein, Moondance Alumni