Hope for Haiti

Paige Young, Overland Park, Kansas

Taking action to make a difference is what I like most about being a Girl Scout! My name is Paige Young, and I have been a Girl Scout since I was in Kindergarten.

As I prepare for the next chapter of my life – heading off to college, I have 12 amazing years as a Girl Scout to reflect upon. Of course, I take with me the friendships, the time I had with mom my as our troop’s leader, outdoor adventures, mentoring younger Girl Scouts and learning skills that I can take with me into the future. The most memorable moment has to be earning my Gold Award, the highest award a girl can earn requiring a sustainable project impacting the community and beyond.

A mission trip to Haiti changed my life and gave me inspiration for my Gold Award project. My idea was to design an inexpensive, but durable backpack using material called blue sterile wrap. I knew I had to partner with a medical facility to get the amount of material I needed. I made the pitch to Shawnee Medical Center, and they answered with an enthusiastic yes.
With plenty of blue sterile wrap, the help of a local sewing professional and four sewing days later, 80 backpacks for the orphans in Haiti were produced and filled with school supplies, many donated by other Girl Scout troops. The project was great, but I wanted to make a larger impact. Why not teach women and girls in Haiti to sew?
I traveled to Haiti with other volunteers, a couple of donated sewing machines and plenty of blue sterile wrap to set up a sewing learning center in a village. We taught the women how to make the bags, so they can donate them to other villages.

One of the most impactful moments of the whole trip was when one woman I had been sewing with, Rosemine, finished her backpack. There was such pride on her face and she was almost in tears as she said, “Thank You, I love you.”

My vision for this project has been realized as every Monday the women open the sewing center for business. On the first Monday, they not only made backpacks, but designed their own bag and started fixing the children’s clothes. Today, these women are “paying it forward” as they teach other women and girls to sew.

I love being a Girl Scout! I have had opportunities to do things that I never would have without being a part of this organization. I am an example of what our mission says – I know I have made a difference in the lives of others. I look forward to continuing to find ways to change the world taking all I have learned as a Girl Scout with me.