Guiding gave me the space to learn and develop

Maria Laura Navarro is a member of the Guides and Scouts of Costa Rica, and part of the team bringing Voices against Violence to the country. She wrote about what the Girl Guide and Girl Scout Movement means to her, and the opportunities she's had as a Guide.

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Maria LauraWhen I joined the Girl Guides in college at 14, I could never have imagined the adventure that was guaranteed and all the learning that this would bring to my life.

I was an incredibly shy and quiet girl, but when I joined the group I started to discover through the various games and activities that I could do so much more. My confidence and self-esteem grew bit by bit and I started to develop skills and face my fears.

I never used to like public speaking; I was terrified by it. But when I joined the group, this changed; firstly, when I became Patrol Leader as I had to speak and coordinate things in my team, then with the whole group, where I began to more actively join in with campfires and group activities, and started to lead dances and sing-alongs.  

When I was 17 I joined the National Youth Council, where my responsibilities increased and my duties included planning and leading forums for other young people. My role here gave me the opportunity to lead discussions in groups of various sizes and all of a sudden I had to take the microphone at a National Assembly in order to express my views and the opinions of the young people.

After a lot of practise, a huge challenge and opportunity presented itself: in 2010, I was a representative for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) at the 55th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), where I learnt about the lives of girls, young people and women around the world. I met some extraordinary women and I was even able to give my first speech in English in a UN hall at a WAGGGS event.

After CSW, I had the honour of being a youth delegate representative at the 34th WAGGGS World Conference. This time, the hall and the audience were much larger and I was given the opportunity to take part in the global launch of the Voices against Violence campaign. This was an unforgettable experience; I remember that I was quite nervous as it was such a big challenge, but I had an excellent team supporting me to make sure I performed at my best. I had no idea my voice and ideas could reach that far!

This is only a small part of what I’ve done, as the Movement has offered me the space to develop my skills and knowledge through unforgettable experiences. It’s just a small example of what a big impact the movement has had on my life. For me, Guiding has been a mainstay of my education, my identity and my life in general. Thanks to the space and the experiences I’ve had, I have managed to learn a lot about myself, society, current issues such as self-esteem, serving others, rights, values, impact, poverty, youth empowerment, gender equality and current affairs.

Thanks to the Movement I’ve managed to develop my skills and abilities, to overcome my fears, take on new challenges and get out of my comfort zone to start doing some amazing things. The best thing about it is I’ve done it all alongside experienced people, volunteers of both genders, who bring their knowledge, time and effort. At the same time, they are role models and form part of a support network that’s always available to chat, offer advice and support you in anything you might need. 

- Maria Laura Navarro

Help Stop the Violence against women and girls in Costa Rica

We are working with the Asociación de Guías y Scouts de Costa Rica to raise £15,000 to help Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in Costa Rica kick-start a national campaign to end violence against women and girls.

£15,000 will allow them to hold three Voices against Violence training events, which will be attended by a total of 144 Leaders from across the country, and with your support we can make this happen!

A group of generous donors in the USA have also promised to add 40% to all donations given to this campaign, so your pledge, large or small, will go even further.

Donate to the Stop the Violence Crowdfunder

End violence against women and girls in Costa Rica

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