Raising awareness about mental health: Leave No Girl Behind International Girl’s Empowerment Testimonials

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This blog post is dedicated to the testimonials of the wonderful group of young ladies in Africa that I had the honor of speaking with a few weeks ago. If you have not had a chance to read the previous blog, please do check it out by clicking here before reading the testimonials. https://feejohnson.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/leave-no-girl-behind-international-girls-empowerment/

Felicia Johnson Speaking-article

Leave No Girl Behindhttp://www.leavenogirlbehind.org

Testimonials:

“I found the Skype enlightening because there were many things I was uncertain of like my career and writing.  Thank you because if it weren’t for the Skype I wouldn’t have started writing again.  I have started writing a play which I am at Act 2 already.  Besides that it was my first time Skyping so I found that interesting.  I really did enjoy it.”
 ~ Mpumelelo Ngcobo (M.P.), 15yrs old
“What I really liked about the Skype session was that you motivated me about how to not let anyone put me down or make me feel ashamed of myself”
~ Buhle Zondo, 12yrs old
“I thoroughly enjoyed the Skype session as I learned a lot from it.  I now have more clarity about things which were once ‘blurred’.  I liked the way we were able to ask questions freely, and there were no limitations.  You woke up at like 6 – 7 am in the morning just to Skype with us, greatly appreciated.”
~ Asande Vilane, 12yrs old
“I thoroughly enjoyed our Skype session and I really liked how you told your story and it really impacted me, especially how you said that even though you’ve been through a lot, you coped with it by writing and I myself write a lot and I think that you really inspired me in that way, especially how you said to follow your dreams.  You really touched me a lot, so thank you.”
~  Laiya Mahomed, 13yrs old
“As a young lady I had taken away with me that each person has a story, a background of some kind.  It may be painful but others use where they ahve come from and change it to something beautiful and happier in turn they help inspire others to do the same with their lives.  Thank you Miss Johnson.”
~ Phindile Ndlovu, 16 yrs old
“I thought your life story was very interesting!  I also learnt a lot from things like how you coped with your struggles by writing about it.  For me I also write a diary every now and again, and it really does help to write about your feelings when you have a problem or issue.  I really did enjoy the things you talked to us about. =)
If I ever get a chance to I hope we will be able to talk again.  Thank you. =)”
~ Aphelele Ndlovu, 14 yrs old
“I was very touched by your life story and was inspired by your perseverance.  The passion in which you portrayed when speaking about journaling somewhat re-ignited my love for literature.  I stopped writing because my life got too busy and I realised that this might possibly be why I’m stressed.  I no longer have an outlet so I bottle everything up and I think its affecting me academically.  You might not of meant to, but you awakened a passion in me which I thought I had buried long ago. Stay beautiful!!”
~  Samukelisiwe Mthembu, 17yrs old
“Your story growing up was very touching.  I started reading books.  I also went and told my mum, a good reader makes a good writer.  I will never forget those words.”
~ Ayesha Dawjee, 13 yrs old
“I enjoyed the Skyping session with Felicia Johnson because I learned a lot of new things like keeping journals.  I was very touched by the way she wrote a journal for her late best friend so that she could remember her by and that she wrote based on her friend.  I loved her kind heart and the joy and smile that she had when she was talking about her writing and how passionate she is about writing and journal keeping makes me want to be passionate about my activities.”
~ Mathu Mnisi, 14 yrs old
“What I liked about the Skype was when Felicia Johnson talked about how she started writing and the sad story of how she lost her best friend because she never wrote her feelings down.”
~ Nokuthula Simelane, 12 yrs old
“I had fun and really learnt a lot because keeping something on a piece of paper is better than keeping it in your heart and what I mean by that is its better to write about the things that hurt you than to leave it to carry on hurting you.”
~ Nokukhanya Makhanya, 13 yrs old
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Leave No Girl Behind International Girls’ Empowerment

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Can I just say how much I adore Haseena Patel! Please check out her organization called Leave No Girl Behind. Their mission is “to empower girls worldwide through our Leave No Girl Behind International programs and radio show. To raise awareness of why doing this is essential”.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege and honor of speaking with a group of girls at their school in Africa about the importance of journaling, setting goals, reaching them, and writing. There is about a 8 hour difference between where I live and where Leave No Girl Behind is in Africa. Therefore, I was on Skype at 6:30am EST to meet with the girls and begin our discussion. It was a delightful and enlightening conversation about life, journaling, and empowerment. It was a deep discussion as I shared with them how I grew up in an abusive home and suffered from depression and the suicide of my best friend. It was important to share with them how I overcame these challenges and was empowered and inspired to get better and help others.

I found the girls to be very bright and engaging in our discussion. They asked me the most brilliant questions after I spoke to them for about a half hour, sharing my story with them and how I came to be where I am today. One of the questions that stood out the most to me was when one of the girls asked, “How do you tell your parents that you want to go into things like writing and theatre when they expect you to go into something else?”

The reason that question stood out the most, was because it’s common for children to want to please their parents. Most children want to choose a career that their parents would be proud of, but would allow them to be true to what they are passionate about. If what their passionate about conflicts with what their parents want for them, then it makes it hard for that child to talk their parents. I encouraged the young lady who asked this question to speak up to her parents. I said, “Speaking aloud and clearly is the best thing to do. Honesty is always the best route, no matter if it makes them upset. You avoid the complications that would come up later. In the long run, your parents will see how happy you are in choosing a career path that doesn’t make you miserable or feel like you’re wasting your life. And if your parents truly love you, which I’m sure they do, they’ll eventually come around, or they may even hear you out right away and support you without opposition. You never know! Therefore, don’t put aside your hopes and dreams. ”

Thanks to Haseena Patel, Shameema Patel, and Jenita Raghoo for putting this wonderful event together! As a thank you for having me as a guest speaker, I’m sending journals to the group of school girls and to the three amazing women who made it all possible. Each journal will have a personal note written inside for all of them. I truly hope that they will enjoy their new journals! I look forward to Skyping with them again in the future to see how they are coming along with their journaling.

Testimonials will be posted soon. Stay tuned!

Leave No Girl Behind can be found on FB https://www.facebook.com/LeaveNoGirlBehind
They also have a website: http://www.leavenogirlbehind.org/

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The Women’s Festival and Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Awards 2014

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Seated, Deborah Hutchison. From left to right, standing: Patty DeDominic, Dana Ochoa, Sally Smeed, Kim Castle, Sonia Marsh, Lee Langley, Dr. Jennifer Conrad, “Twinkle” Marie Manning, Deepa Willingham, Linda Newlin, Felicia Johnson, Razia Jan, Janet Ault.

Let me start off by saying thank you to all of you who helped me get to California for the Santa Barbara Women’s Festival 2014. Thanks to you, I was there to accept an honoree award for my nomination for the Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Award. My award is in recognition of overcoming childhood abuse and psychological adversity to become and author and inspirational role model as a Gutsy Gal. It truly meant the world to me to know that I have so many supporters among friends, family, and fans.

I’d like to recognize those family, friends, and fans who helped me with their love and support. Special thanks to: Writer and fellow nominee Sonia Marsh of Gutsy Living, Dr. Virginia Felder of Roots & Branches, Dustin Johnson, LPC, Jacqueline Lo’Leta Vick, Stand-up Comedian Darkim Marshall, Donzella Fibleuil, Joyce Savage of Make BPD Stigma Free, Writer and Humanitarian Perto Herrera, my wonderful publicist Lauren Stiles of PDAN.org, Barry Johnson, Singer/Songwriter Anon aka Barry Blackson, Fashionista and best sister in the whole world Laura Vick, and Highland Institute therapist Candice Osborn.

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Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Honoree Award

I had such a wonderful time at the Women’s Festivals Santa Barbara thanks to all of the inspiring and incredible women who were there. What I enjoyed most were the stories that everyone who participated shared. Wisdom, courage, bravery, and honor shined from each and every person who had a story to share.

It’s refreshing to know that there are strong, courageous, and beautiful women who are not afraid to be gutsy. It was a great pleasure and deep honor to share the stage with all of the nominees. The Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Awards were a huge success thanks to Deborah Hutchison, founder of Gutsy Gals Inspire Me® and Patty DeDominic, founder of the Santa Barbara Women’s Festival. They are the original Gutsy Gals!

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From left to right: Patty DeDominc, Fee Johnson and Deborah Hutchinson

The Women’s Festival was held at the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara, California from March 7th to the March 8th. On Sunday, March 9th, I had the honorable privilege to attend a VIP brunch for sponsors and the Gutsy Gal Awards nominees and winners at the house of our host, Patty DeDominic.

I finally was able to meet one of my role models! Sonia Marsh of Gutsy Living. I came in 2nd place in her Gutsy Writing Contest earlier this year.

The nominees for the Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Awards 2014 were: Dana Ochoa, Sally Smeed, Kim Castle, Sonia Marsh, Lee Langley, Dr. Jennifer Conrad, “Twinkle” Marie Manning, Deepa Willingham, Linda Newlin, Felicia Johnson, Razia Jan, Janet Ault, Christina Aguirre-Kolb, Barbara Liss, and Maria Alyokhinam, Yekatrerina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, members of Pussy Riot.

The winners of the Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Awards 2014 are: Razia Jan for the International Award, Deepa Willingham for the National Domestic Award, and Lee Langley for the Lifetime Achievement Award. Actress Kelly LeBrock was The Gutsy Gals Inspire Me 2014 Celebrity Honoree. She gave a wonderful talk about her DUI Arrest and overcoming her problems.

Razia Jan won The International Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Award for starting a girls’ school in Afghanistan where education for girls is frowned upon.

Deepa Willingham won The National Domestic Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Awards because she has advocates to educate children and she fights against sex trafficking.

Lee Langley won the Lifetime Achievement Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Awards because she had the vision at 23 years of age to co-found a school for delinquent boys.

There is no doubt in my mind that these women are the gutsiest and most deserving of such a high honor. Every woman who I was blessed to share the honor of being nominated with are deserving of recognition for their hard work and courage. No one can be compared because we all are great and gutsy women!