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“Yes, We Can”

BY DHAMAYANTHY PADMANATHAN

October 1, 2022

This is a verse from a very popular Girl Scout song ‘Yes, We Can’:

“Can a woman be a doctor?
Yes, she can. YES!  She CAN!

Can a woman drive a tractor?
Yes, she can.  YES!  She CAN!

Can a woman lead a nation?
Can she run a TV station?
Can she head a corporation?
Yes, she can. YES!  She CAN!

From the time I first became a Girl Guide in Sri Lanka, I believed that Girl Guiding gave me the tools to feel that: “Yes, I can”!  I felt I could do anything, whether it be cooking, plumbing or even rock climbing, if I tried hard enough.  This feeling of empowerment made me want to pass on that feeling to girls and young adults all over the world.  The desire to do all I can to empower the future generation of young women is what motivates me to volunteer a lot of my time to the Girl Scouts of the USA and to other members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).   I have also been involved with the World Bank Family Network (WBFN) and the Margaret McNamara Education Grants (MMEG) Fair for many years, as they have the identical vision for women from all over the globe.

I am currently an Adult Educator for the ‘Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital,’ and I primarily focus on outdoor skills (Cookout/Campout) and the World Association.   Though COVID-19 was a terrible thing that happened to the world, there were some good things to come out of it.  Being able to connect with people everywhere is definitely one of the pluses.  I am now able to reach many more girls/adults via Zoom, than I could do in my in-person classes.  So, during this time, one of the things I have focused on is educating Girl Scouts in the USA and other parts of the world about the lives of girls in other member countries and encouraging them to go to one of the WAGGGS World Centres for leadership seminars.  The experiences of girls who have gone to these seminars are invaluable.  Older girls from many different countries get together to learn about each other’s cultures and do volunteer work in their local communities.  This brings about understanding and acceptance of different cultures, helping to make the world a better place, which is one of the Girl Guide/Scout laws.

These past couple of years I have made several presentations on the World Association, with interactive videos of songs, dances, games, food, dress, etc. from different cultures, and have had online events with young adults presenting the experiences they have had in new and unfamiliar places.   It has been extremely rewarding for me to be able to introduce world cultures to many girls/adults who have not been as fortunate as I have been, to travel to other countries.

Sending girls overseas on leadership opportunities requires a lot of fundraising.  I am not good at asking people for money, so I have had to come up with creative ways to collect funds.  This year I asked an Odissi Dance school, the Mayur Dance Academy in Potomac, to showcase one of their performances, ‘Maya – the Illusionist’, as an online fundraising event for ‘Sangam’, the WAGGGS World Centre in Pune, India.  This was well received by many people, some of whom had not even heard of the Odissi dance form. I was able to raise funds while also introducing the audience not only to the art form, but also to the work we/I do to empower girls.  I also auctioned a 3’ x 4 ½’ cross stitch wall hanging (or rug) that I made by hand.  The proceeds from these endeavors will be used for scholarships to fund the girls’ participation in leadership seminars.

I have been privileged to live in different parts of the world.  As a member of WAGGGS I have been able to move from Sri Lanka to England, Kenya, India and the USA, with relative ease, as I have always found like-minded people who are just as passionate as I am, about empowering girls and women.  In addition, WAGGGS like the World Bank Group, enables us to make lifelong friendships.  We do not live in an isolated world and the more friends we have, the happier we are.  As we all know, the person ‘giving’ their time for volunteer work often gets more joy out of it than the person who ‘receives’ the so-called benefit.

I encourage all of you to volunteer your time to follow/fulfill your passion.  You will never regret it!  It makes us happier, healthier people.

YES we can!


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COMMENTS

  1. Brigid Holleran

    Love this and your work for all of the girls of the world, whether we’re grown up or not!

  2. Santiago Sandoval Valencia

    Remarkable the summary note presented hereby. It is placed as an encouragement cheer to ALL PEOPLE committed to pitch in into the society in which we ALL live; and not withstanding the lack of participation of the many, the good HAS TO REACH the most possible number of individuals; in our case, ALL OF US part of this big family of Active, as well as Retired Employees of the WB COMMUNITY. We ALL have to have the heart to PARTICIPATE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE⚠️in the WB Affairs😃❤️


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