Born in a struggling San Diu ethnic family where her parents often fought over their financial situation, Nhu Quynh grew up with low self-esteem and a fear of men and conflict. Not only did Quynh have trouble making friends and communicating with others, but she was also bullied from a young age. Quynh grew into a confused and reserved teenager who did not understand her own culture nor well-versed in the outside world. She was oblivious to her discontent about her own upbringing and the culture she was raised up in. 

As one of the 60 girls that were selected for our Brighter Path Girls’ Club pilot in Thai Nguyen from September to December 2020, Quynh quickly learned what it meant to be surrounded and loved by her new Girls’ Club friends and mentors. The program taught her to listen and realize that many girls were suffering. By learning to open up to others, Quynh was introduced to a whole new arena of knowledge and purpose that she never experienced before. 

Quynh and her Girls’ Club colleagues were properly introduced to sexual and reproductive health education, leadership skills, legal rights, and financial literacy. After 3 months in the club, Quynh and 97% of the club’s members have had significant improvement in self-awareness, self-esteem, and personal development. In addition to the universal goal of encouraging female students to remain in school and postpone marriage, the Girls’ Club is designed to facilitate a safe and comfortable environment that empowers female students to share their difficulties and learn from each other. During after-school sessions, the girls had the chance to discuss important topics and express themselves freely through group discussion and other creative learning methods.

This new knowledge and self-confidence gave Quynh the courage to discuss with her parents “taboo” topics such as domestic violence, anger management, and their financial problems. Quynh is now the “game-changer” by helping her parents to work together, respect each other, and listen to each other’s points of view – many of which have left considerable improvements in their family life. 

Before participating in the Girls’ Club, Quynh and her peers were unbeknownst to their rights to education, free speech, and the power to pursue their dreams. Now that she is realizing her goals, and understands how to tackle problems and communicate, Quynh is able to love herself more, avoid behaviors that foster negative emotions, and apply her new useful knowledge to bring about a much brighter future for herself and others. The Brighter Path Girls’ Club was an avid testament that it can improve our participants’ lives, change old cultural norms, and empower a new generation of ethnic minority girls to bypass their hurdles and build their own futures.

“Through the club, I see that I have made transformations both within myself and the way in which I perceive my surroundings. I have become more sociable and dared to embrace an ardent love and appreciation for myself. I have gained the courage and confidence to boldly channel my mind, voice personal opinions, and confidently express my own interests and forte.” 

“Studying law and adolescent reproductive health helped me to better understand the legal marriage age, and how early marriage affects a girl’s future. The lessons taught us how to take good care of our health and give us a better understanding to refrain from engaging in actions that could instigate harmful consequences, like an unwanted pregnancy.”

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