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Castle View graduate hopes to capture portraits of ‘brave women’ in Africa

CASTLE ROCK – Most college students home for summer break spend most their time hanging out with old friends or working at a summer job. 2012 Castle View graduate Hanna Tenerowicz, however, is traveling to Africa to capture the story of the girls who attend Muanjadi High School in Mbuji-Mayi, located in south-central Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Wellesley College sophomore learned about Muanjadi High School in one of her French classes at Castle View.  As a president of the school’s French Honor Society, she led students to fundraise for the non-profit Muanjadi Organization, which helps young girls to complete their high school education, and therefore, help them avoid an early-arranged marriage.
Muanjadi means ‘A Brave Woman’ in Tshiluba, one of the languages spoken in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  For many parents in the Congo, marrying off their daughters constitutes a source of revenue, in a country where people generally live off of less than one dollar a day.
Inspired last summer by the book Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, which is about turning oppression into opportunity for women in developing countries, Tenerowicz decided to take action. She looked into ways to get involved with the Muanjadi Organization. Eventually, Tenerowicz determined that creating a series of short documentaries about the young women at the school, nicked named “brave women,” was the best way to help. 
During her trip this summer, Tenerowicz hopes to interview several of the students, asking them to address a problem they would like to solve in the community. Through the documentaries, she hopes to not only share their stories, but also to help them raise money so they can stay in school and solve their chosen community issue.
“For example, a girl could say that she wants to lower the infant mortality rate and we can do that by training some people in the community to be midwives and to know some of the more modern techniques so less children die in childbirth,” explained Tenerowicz.
She is quick to note that her focus is empowering the women.
“While they are impoverished and have a lot more struggle in their day-to-day lives than we do here, I do not think of them as victims of poverty,” Tenerowicz said. “Really, I see them as people just like you and me. They have great ideas, but maybe they don’t have the means to accomplish them. [I want] to give them all of the opportunity I can to help them reach their potential and to do what they can for their community.”
She believes that investing in the dreams of these individual women could create much larger change in that community.
“I think that would create empowerment for women in the community,” Tenerowicz said.
Despite a busy schedule as a college freshman, Tenerowicz found time to make the necessary connections and to work out the details for this summer’s trip.
“Sometimes it was difficult, especially during the school year, but I had to give this a lot of priority, because it’s something I’ve been dreaming about and planning for such a long time,” Tenerowicz said.
In order to help raise awareness about the Muanjadi community and her project, she created artwork, which is being featured this month at the Roxborough Art Gallery, located at 8357 N. Rampart Range Road in Littleton. The art show continues through June 30 and proceeds will go towards the trip and establishing a yearly trip for Douglas County students, who are studying French to learn about the community.
After she returns, Tenerowicz plans on producing the short documentaries and will present them to students and teachers at Castle View in August. She also expects to set up a website for the project soon and sees herself continuing to establish her vision for several years to come. Furthermore, she plans on creating a sister organization to the Muanjadi Organization called, “A Portrait of a Brave Woman.”
“I definitely see myself involved in this for a very long time and I definitely want to get it’s on it’s feet and make it real,” Tenerowicz said.
Learn more about her project at the following links:
Blog Spot: Maunjadi Art Show
June 27, 2013 | By Anonymous | Category: Communications

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