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Refugee Youth Outreach - Changing Lives, One Girl at a Time


donor news 8.18.1

When you donate $25 to Girl Scouts, you may not know just how much that impacts a life. What could be spent on lunch three times this week instead helps a girl register for a year-long program of leadership development, strength-building and adventure-making. Girls across Iowa are given the gift of Girl Scouts each year through generous scholarship donations each year. You, our donors, change lives – it’s as simple as that.

Paw is one of those lives. Born and raised in a refugee camp along the Thai-Burma border, Paw's family arrived in the U.S. just over five years ago. She was struggling to catch up in school, so her mother enrolled her in a Saturday morning reading and math program for refugee youth in Des Moines. There, she met Ngan Hoang, GSGI’s Assistant Director of Mission Outreach, who was the facilitator of the refugee program at the time.

“Paw was learning English and was timid and barely spoke to anyone,” said Hoang.

Last fall, Paw started sixth grade. She reached out to Hoang and said she wanted to join Girl Scouts.

“I figured she wanted to join because I now work for Girl Scouts and she wanted to be in my programming just like before," said Hoang. "I met with her and she said she wanted to join Girl Scouts because she wanted to try new things and be confident.” 

Before Hoang could find Paw a troop, she brought home a registration flyer home to her mom. She was able to sign up for Girl Scouts at no cost through the financial assistance program.

“I took Paw to the first few troop meetings. She was nervous and had her head down for the majority of the first meeting. She mumbled her answers, and was too shy to interact with the other girls,” said Hoang.

At the end of her first year, Hoang attended Paw’s end of year celebration. Hoang couldn’t believe the transformation in Paw.

“She was the most confident I’ve ever seen her. She was chatty and excited to tell me about what she’d done throughout the troop year,” said Hoang.

Paw sold two boxes of cookies to her teachers. She completed eight badges and a couple of fun patches in her first year of Girl Scouts, her favorite being the Pets badge.

“She wasted no time in asking me to show her how to put on her badges, and she asked if I could help her renew her membership for next year,” said Hoang.

To help other girls like Paw become a Girl Scout, consider donating a $25 membership scholarship today.