These past few weeks have been incredibly busy and so rewarding. October 11 was the first annual international Day of the Girl. It's a day to recognize the girls around the World and celebrate their lives, their passions, abilities and achievements. We celebrated in a big way here with the Mariposas (and Estrellas) with Pinatas, ice cream, parties, mural painting, artwork and paper dolls! For me, it is most important to recognize the society the girls live in Nicaragua and how women are viewed here. First off, my experience being a women here in Nicaragua has been interesting. I cannot walk down the street without be yelled at, cat called or asked who is going to be my Nicaraguan boyfriend (haha). At first it was annoying, then funny and now often infuriating. I've only been here 3 1/2 months and I'm already pretty exhausted from the consistent harassment, I can't imagine growing up in it. I've also noticed the amount of men out and about in the streets versus women, a TON of men. When I go on my house visits many of the mother and grandmothers work in the home or do "domestica" for work. Milagro, one of my girls next store, I've met her mother once in their home and have never seen her again, out on the porch, nothing. Girls are not encouraged here, in the home or in school, so it is such an important aspect of being a leader in this community to be a person who encourages these girls. We took tons of photos, video taped the girls expressing why they love to play soccer and why other girls should pay too. The Mariposas spent time drawing their interpretation of what it means to be a girl or why they love being one. Some of the girls wrote profound things for 9 year olds. One of my girls, I think it was Natalia's, wrote how she believes that women are strong and smart, how in some aspects women are stronger than men, in the sense that they endure so much. We celebrated by going to get ice cream, dancing, singing, playing soccer, coloring. It has been a beautiful couple of weeks and it's awesome to see the girls grow and even though I have been here for sometime, some of the girls are just now confiding in me and it warms my heart that they seek encouragement from me. We had mid-season evaluations for the girls and it was great to be able to honestly say to each of them that they have each grown in some aspect whether it is respect for others, in friendship, in teamwork, in listening, etc. In many ways I have begin to realize that even though this organization focus on the sport of soccer, what we do often has nothing to do with soccer. It's more what sports offer to growth in a person, what teamwork does for a child, friendship, guidance, encouragement, love, all of these things is what this about. To provide what is lacking in these girls that may help them to made good choices, to be successful, to become leaders. I pray everyday that the girls gain from this program, that God gives me guidance in loving these girls. I don't know what is more powerful than the love of children, their laughs, their smiles, their brilliance...so much is to be celebrated everyday in all the Mariposas and all the girls of the World.