After 18 years, Island Girl Power Organization of Guam’s positive results are spilling over to other islands of Micronesia. Carlotta Leon Guerrero, a founder of Island Girl Power and current Chief Advisor of Military and Regional Affairs under the Office of the Governor of Guam, shared with Palau women during Palau International Women 2020 Conference what their local organization is doing and how they can partner to help women and girls in need.
Ms. Guerrero started Island Girl Power in 2002 to help empower young girls and to fight against domestic violence. The organization’s motto is to “decrease the occurrence of teen pregnancy, suicide, substance, and sexual abuse. Empowering our young ladies to make healthy lifestyle choices, Encouraging Positive self-esteem with Mentors and Role Models, while Inspiring Cultural and Community Pride.”
In the beginning, the organization sought grants and obtained an old building from GovGuam that it repaired and refurbished to provide a facility for their programs and activities for young girls. They held rummage sale as fundraising but due to the success of the rummage sale and donations from many businesses and individuals to the rummage, they opened a thrift store. Since then, they had to acquire another building to store excess items.
“We have been sending boxes and boxes of stuff to the women in Chuuk, Kosrae, and Yap for them to use in their programs of helping families in need,” stated Ms. Guerrero. “We’ve sent a 40 footer container to Chuuk with loads of items. We work with many women’s organizations there that have programs aimed at those most in need.”
Island Girl Power is based in Dededo village in Guam and they say they have various programs that meet the needs of girls and young women. “We bring women FBI agents, pilots, military officers, and others to come and talk with the girls. They would encourage them to stay in school, hang on and when they reach 18, they can be whoever they chose to be,” explained Guerrero. This is one of the programs that give young girls role models but also those in difficult situations, a light at the end of the tunnel.
“We tell them, just hang on and in five years you will be able to make the choice for yourself and be anything you want to be.”
Hundreds of young girls have gone through the program since its inception and some have returned with inspirational stories for the newer generation.
The organization’s vision statement states “Our vision is to create an environment where girls ages 7 to 14 can feel safe and confident in their ability to make healthy lifestyle choices and create positive change in her life and others. We want girls to know just how special they are here at Island Girl Power! We also emphasize the importance of Positive Role Models and Volunteering in our community.”