Girl Determined is running weekly Circles and sports programs for 250 girls in Kachin State, at the far north of the country. All the girls in our programs live in 6 of the 36 camps for the internally-displaced. Fighting between the ethnic national Kachin Army and the Myanmar forces started up in 2010 after more than a decade-long ceasefire. Since, over 100,000 have been forced to flee their homes due to ongoing violence and have taken up residence in temporary camps managed by various social and religious groups. Though negotiations between the government and non-state groups continue, a resolution seems distant. Adolescent girls in the camps, in addition to the trauma of displacement and the violence that some have witnessed, continue to face on-going fears of rape and sexual assault, the risk of trafficking, parental beatings, and the daily chores demanded of them as girls that deprives them from education and leisure. Though Girl Determined has only been working with these girls since early 2014, they have grown into a tight-knit group of girls that support one another, and are asserting their basic rights to safety and security. With the possibility of returning to their home villages becoming increasingly dim, Girl Determined is helping the girls to gain in confidence, camaraderie and decision-making skills to navigate the complex changes in their lives.

Photographs by Andrew Stanbridge

Just like everyone else in the camp, each family, no matter how many members get a small bamboo shelter, roughly 15 by 25 feet. Belongings include those things families were able to grab at the time of flight and whatever contributions have been made since arriving there.
The adolescent girls in the family are often given significant responsibilities to care for their younger siblings throughout the day, often depriving them the chance to attend school.
Mai Awng and her grandmother were separated from the rest of their family while running. They have yet to be reunited. She cares for her elderly grandmother.
Attending weekly Circles not only builds life and leadership skills. It brings joy to the girls who have little other diversion.
The various IDP camps have different levels of external assistance and infrastructure. Generally water and sanitation are very limited. Girls end up carrying water and often are responsible for cleaning the shared toilets.
Thanks to Standard Chartered Bank and Women Win International, we have brought sports to the girls in our Kachin State programs. In addition to weekly circles, a structured sports program compounds the impacts of our regular leadership programming. And, the girls have a great time.
Most girls have come from different villages and because of their participation in Girl Determined Circles have developed strong and supportive friendships.
Volleyball is a hit
Fortunately, at this camp there is lots of space to run and play.
This particular circle of girls organizes themselves to hold an extra sports session during the week.