Mission

The Kate Puzey Memorial Fund was established in honor of Catherine “Kate” Puzey to continue her work in Benin and sustain her vision of global understanding. It is dedicated to supporting and encouraging the empowerment of girls and women of Benin, primarily through funding special girl camps that allow rare opportunities for them to expand their horizons, leadership skills, and prospects for a better future.

To help fund these camps you can make a tax-deductible donation to this program on the Peace Corps website here.

The Kate Fund works in conjunction with the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP).

Goals
  • Fund ‘Girl Empowerment Camps’ that help offer Beninese girls a better future
  • Promote the enrollment and retention of Beninese girls in attending school
  • Encourage connections between Beninese girls and local women leaders
  • Develop the self-confidence, self esteem, and self-awareness of school-aged girls
  • Foster opportunities for greater peer-to-peer connections among Beninese girls
  • Link American supporters with the successes and challenges of Beninese girls
Why support the Kate Fund?

The Kate Fund was started in July 2009 by returned Peace Corps Volunteer friends of Kate to honor her commitment the women of Benin and the girl camps she organized in her village. 100% of your donation will support girls’ empowerment camps in Benin – an opportunity for girl leaders to spend a week learning from each other and from successful Beninese women. Sessions cover everything from reproductive health to study skills to career advice. There is also the chance to have fun and be social with other girls – a luxury many girls never experience at home as they balance the demands of school, work and helping out around the house in an area of the world where it is very difficult to be a woman.

The lessons learned and the friendships forged at these events are vital to helping girls stay in school and become active members of their community. Simply being recognized as role models is often enough to turn shy girls into outspoken leaders. The connection that girls make to the Beninese women counselors and leaders is also vital – as part of the program, these older women continue to mentor the girls once the camp is over. Community commitment to the camps is key – community contributions account for an average of 40% of each camp’s budget.

However, Benin is a relatively poor country and community contributions are not alone enough to keep funding these camps. This is where you can make a real difference. Just a few dollars can truly have a powerful impact: It costs just $25 per day to send a girl to a camp in the regional capital, whereas a mere $8 per day covers the cost for a girl to attend a local day camp. This is a drop in the bucket for many of us, but it is more than a Beninese family might invest in a girl’s education for a whole year.

Again, to help fund these camps you can make a tax-deductible donation to this program on the Peace Corps website here.

Thank you for your support! It truly will make a difference in the lives of these girls!

Recent Accomplishments
In 2012 the Kate Fund helped finance nine girls’ camps, benefiting 1530 girls!    To learn more, click here.

Here is also an account of the positive impact these camps are having from PCV Jenny Brown, a Gender & Development coordinator who organized a recent camp:

“I visited my old village (Sori) a few weekends ago and I was shocked by the transformation the school had made since my departure. At first, I wasn’t sure how successful the camp had been in the long run, but I found out that it had a profound affect on the girls who attended and their friends. There has been a head girl established in the school who is in charge of helping other girls report sexual harassment cases in front of the PTA and the headmaster. Also, one of my girls was beaten by the Surveillant General for refusing to have sex with him. Instead of hiding it, she reported it to her mom and they are bringing the case to court in Kandi. Additionally, the girls approached the co-coordinator from my camp, who is a female teacher, and together they started a girls club ON  THEIR OWN!!! Thank you times a million for funding this camp. It truly changed the lives and aspirations of so many girls”.
Past Accomplishments
In 2010 the Kate Fund helped finance four girls’ camps, in which nearly 135 girls participated. Two of these camps were day camps, held locally in towns in Northern Benin, which ran for the first time ever last year. One of the camps was entirely financed by the Kate Fund and local contributions and would not have happened without our support. The largest camp was a regional camp bringing together girls from throughout the Donga region (where Kate served) and was held at a women’s weaving center in Djougou.
“Du Courage Jeune Fille” Girls’ Empowerment Camp – Tchatchou (4 days, 25 girls)

In partnership with a local school, this camp ran for the first time in a small town called Tchatchou. The Kate Fund paid for a trip to the museum in the regional capital – the first time many girls had an opportunity to visit a museum in their lifetimes. Funds also provided supplies for their certificate ceremony, an important recognition of the girls’ hard work. Finally, the Fund paid for nutritional snacks to help sustain the girls through long days of learning sessions, sports, and arts & crafts.

“Camp Success” Girls’ Empowerment Camp – Djougou (6 days, 59 girls)

Nine Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) and seven host community counterparts – six females and one male – organized and directed the camp, which was hosted at a weaving center in Djougou, the capital of the Donga region. Fifty-nine top female students from sixteen different public secondary schools in the Donga region participated. This camp was designed to promote gender equality, girls’ empowerment, and girls’ educational and professional achievement in Benin. During the week, camp organizers engaged the girls in a variety of activities designed to enhance their life skills. Additionally, several speakers came to the camp to address important issues such as careers, arranged marriage, sexual harassment in schools, and reproductive and feminine health. The Kate Funds paid for a nutritious snack for the girls so they could be ready for all this work, as well as certificates acknowledging the girls’ participation in this incredible camp.

“Camp Respect” From Camps to Clubs – Natitingou (4 days, 25 girls)

Camp Respect was a camp for girls from Natitingou and nearby Materi; it was the first such camp held in that region for several years. The Peace Corps Volunteers and their community counterparts knew that they wanted the lessons from this camp to live on in their communities, and decided to hold a workshop session on starting a girls’ club. The Kate Fund financed T-shirts for the girls and their junior counselors. These t-shirts are an important symbol of the community bonds forged during the camp that will live on, as the T-shirts now serve as the uniform for two girl clubs.

Camp GLOW “Empowering Girls through HIV/AIDS Education” – Pehunco (4 days, 25 girls)

The goal of the camp was to give young girls a safe environment to ask questions and to express opinions on topics concerning them and their community. The overall theme of the camp was sexual health and healthy living choices. Activities included information sessions (ABCs of HIV/AIDS prevention, proper nutrition, study skills, etc.), ice-breakers, sports (nature walks, Frisbee, soccer), games, and arts & crafts. More than ten local Beninese women were involved in the setting up of the camp (soliciting donations, planning the schedule of the camp, etc.) The camp also featured a variety of local guest speakers, who served as successful women role models during and after the camp.

 

2011-2012 Updates:

Over the past year, the Kate Puzey Memorial Fund has been able to fund several more projects, which have served to benefit over 130 young Beninese girls. Beginning in the winter of last year, the Kate Puzey Memorial Fund was able to support the implementation of two projects, both unique in the aspect that they were the first to utilize the Fund to promote women and girls’ development beyond the traditional camps. With summer came the funding of two girls’ empowerment camps – the two largest in the country – and one of which occurs annually in the region where Kate served during her time in Benin. With these projects, the legacy of Kate’s vision and work continues to live on, and with your continued support we look forward to what this upcoming year will bring.

World AIDS Day Youth Event (funded November 2011)
In partnership with a local radio station and young Beninese students, the aim of this project was to increase the knowledge of both the larger community and the local youth regarding concepts related to sexual education including, but not limited to, condom-use, STIs, unwanted pregnancies, and of course, HIV/AIDS. Using a two-fold approach, this project worked with a local radio station to broadcast brief radio PSAs over the air in both French and the local language. Concurrently, after attending a training session on healthy relationships and HIV/AIDS, local students worked together to create culturally relevant skits, songs, and dances to be performed during the annual International HIV/AIDS Day event. Funds specifically allowed for the transmission of the French and local language broadcasts, which carried vast potential to reach large numbers of people across the region.

 “Rising Stars” Girls Scholarship Program (funded December 2011)
The “Rising Stars” Girls Scholarship Program was designed as an afternoon of celebration and community formations for an already established Girls Scholarship Program (the “Rising Stars”). The program selected 5 girls (out of 38 who qualified with the selected grade average) to receive a scholarship of 25,000 FCFA towards their tuition and school materials. As part of this honor, selected girls were also required to attend personal and professional development seminars in order to maintain their scholarship. In a culture where girls are so often left behind, this event was important as it not only celebrated the achievement of these young girls, but it also served as a forum to lead formations related to girls and education for the community. The underlying hope of this project was to illustrate to the community the importance of supporting and motivating young girls to remain in school. During this special day, the Fund helped to cover the costs of food, sodas, notebooks, and tee-shirts for all of the honored girls, making them feel truly special on their celebratory day.

Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World)—Porto Novo
Bringing together adolescent girls and drawing on the local leadership and volunteerism of influential women within the community, Camp GLOW has become a staple during the summer weeks in Benin. First established in 2003, Camp GLOW—Porto Novo aims to equip young girls with a variety of life skills to help them become better leaders and students in their communities. Over the course of a week, participants learn about personal financial planning, sexual health, computer and internet literacy, goal-setting, HIV/AIDS awareness, study and leadership skills, malaria prevention techniques, arts and crafts, and sports and games. Girls also take excursions to national government institutions and museums, as well as meet Beninese women in various professional roles. The camp’s primary objective is to encourage girls to stay in school.

Camp Success—Donga
Collaborating with schools from across the Donga region, including Badjoudé where Kate served as a volunteer, Camp Success has grown rapidly over the past three years with continued support from the Fund to become the largest girls’ empowerment camp in Benin. Aiming to combat the discouragingly low enrollment and retention rates of female students in secondary schools, the week long summer camp to is designed to educate, motivate, and reward high-achieving female students. Over the course of the week, participants learn about reproductive health and family planning, positive relationships, nutrition and exercise, career opportunities, information technology, and environmental stewardship in addition to goal-setting, decision-making, and leadership skills. The overall goal of this camp is to encourage the girls to maintain their exemplary academic performance, make healthy lifestyle choices, and share the lessons they learn with classmates, friends and family upon returning to their communities. With the new funding and donation system, the Kate Puzey Memorial Fund was able to support nearly the entire camp—a week all the participants will never forget.