Nakita Naik is a Community Economic Development (CED) volunteer serving in a pueblo in Bolívar, Colombia
Peace Corps Colombia’s Volunteer Advisory Council (VAC) offers a mini-grant worth 50 thousand Colombian Pesos (~15 USD) each month to which any Volunteer can apply to support a project. September’s winning applicant was CED volunteer Nakita Naik. Her story is presented below.
I have found art to be an incredible way to connect with people of all different ages, backgrounds, and stories during my service. One of my favorite activities to do with the young girls in my neighborhood is color. However, I found myself guilty of using coloring books I had brought back with me from the US, coloring books with heavy western influence (often portraying scenes of archetypical “gringa” princesses and fairies.) While this exposure to new cultures was important, it was equally, if not more important, that these young females saw themselves represented in the media that they interact with.
In response to this need, members of my community and I worked to create a simple coloring book tailored to young girls on the coast. The book contains images of strong Colombian females celebrating their culture, but not necessarily conforming to the roles expected of them. We wanted to challenge stereotypes and show these girls that they can do anything they set their minds to and are willing to work towards.
The images were drawn primarily using photographs I had taken of women in my community: women fishing, boxing, managing their own tiendas etc. To make the book more personal, numerous women of my community included their own words of advice for the future generation of girls which were printed alongside the images.
Copies were distributed to the local library and PCVs continue to use the coloring book as a catalyst to spark important, empowering dialogue with young women at their sites. Women in my own town were empowered seeing their words printed out and have continued reinforcing positive messages to youth here.
“Que se capaciten, que estudien, que salgan adelante. Usar el conocimiento que han aprendido y después enseñar” – Noris, Pescadora, Soplaviento, Bolívar