How 100 Girls are Recognizing — and Using — Their Power

by Lorraine Shea

Studio Samuel celebrates International Women’s Day

Armed with life skills, students at Studio Samuel’s Training for Tomorrow program open new doors every day

Once you recognize your own power, you can step into the future with full confidence, despite the obstacles. That’s what Studio Samuel, a charity based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, teaches its young female students in its two-year after-school and weekend Training for Tomorrow program. Just as 25 girls are graduating, Studio Samuel has enrolled its 100th girl — with many more on the waiting list. And already these girls are making a difference.

In an area where families live on less than two dollars per day and children are losing parents to AIDS, two Studio Samuel girls have won four-year scholarships to university, and four girls are semi-finalists in the esteemed MCW Global Young Leaders Program here in the U.S. And not only are the girls performing academically better in school, some are showing their entrepreneurial spirit and using their skills to earn money part-time within their community.

Founder Tamara Horton, with Studio Samuel students

From day one, Studio Samuel founder Tamara Horton instilled the principle of the ancient quote: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Young girls in Ethiopia face such obstacles as child marriage, trafficking, and lack of access to education. By teaching the girls life skills with classes in computer coding, needlework, karate, and drama, Studio Samuel helps them build solid roots of confidence, critical thinking, and social aptitude, all of which expand their opportunities.

One student, from a family of four independent sisters whose parents died from AIDS, excelled in karate competitions around the country but could not pay the steep $150 application fee for her black belt. Studio Samuel supporters stepped in to help, and she not only proudly wears her black belt, she’s a martial arts instructor at the center.

Another student spent lots of time at the center’s library, diligently studying for the challenging National Exam. The result? She won a four-year scholarship to a local university, where she’ll study to be a teacher. And yet another student recently traveled to South Korea, where she scoped out universities for her four-year scholarship. Chosen as one of three winners out of 1,000 Ethiopian entries, she is now planning her college-prep curriculum before she begins university in 2018.

As the girls are growing, so is Studio Samuel. Thanks to generous funding from Julian Lennon’s The White Feather Foundation and from the GO Campaign, the newly opened computer lab now offers more advanced classes in app creation and gaming. And in the sewing center, the girls recently created — and then distributed — 250 feminine hygiene kits for their peers, who, without such necessary items, sometimes have to drop out of school.

Next on the agenda, Training for Tomorrow students will be creating even more hygiene kits and gearing up for their third year participating in Africa Code Week in October. And as the girls continue to step into their power, even more doors begin to open for them.

For more information, visit Studio Samuel.