Creating safe spaces for girls on the move: Reflecting on six years of the GEM initiative

By Blondie Ndebele | December 14, 2023 | The Americas | Freedom from Violence & Exploitation, Youth Empowerment

Global Fund for Children and its Girls Experiencing Migration (GEM) initiative partner Otros Dreams en Acción recently co-designed a magazine, or zine, in the form of a children’s activity book that shares activities and reflections from the past six years of the initiative.

The GEM initiative supports a cohort of 12 civil society organizations that are committed to protecting the safety and rights of adolescent migrant girls in Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States. This initiative, a partnership between Tides FoundationComic Relief US, and Global Fund for Children, provides comprehensive support to migrant girls along the migration path.

By partnering with grassroots organizations, the initiative offers a wide range of programs and services aimed at addressing the unique challenges faced by migrant girls including the physical and emotional tolls of migration, detention, and reintegration. The grassroots organizations in this initiative offer support at different stages of the migration process, ensuring migrant girls receive the assistance they need regardless of their circumstances.

In total, 30,000 migrant children and young people have benefited from the GEM initiative. It has also sparked 117 new activities, advocacy actions, and substantial programmatic changes that incorporate gender-transformative approaches or focus on migrant girls.



The recently developed zine, titled “Unlearning by playing: Self-reflection exercises to weave dignified spaces” (“Desaprender jugando: Ejercicios de autorreflexión para tejer espacios dignos” in Spanish), explores various activities undertaken with the grassroots organizations that are part of this initiative and reflects on their experiences. The zine includes fun activities to question adult-centered perspectives and promote dignified storytelling, and it encourages the recovery of childhood games and dreams. It also includes activities that prompt readers to reflect on migration processes and invite participants to rethink wellbeing and self-care using art.

“This zine is for us to reflect, learn, imagine, and have fun together from our respective territories,” Otros Dreams en Acción, which is based in Mexico, wrote in the zine. “You will find activities that may remind you of your primary school activity books, but don’t hesitate, they are for you! Considering our work with children, we thought that allowing us that exploration and wonder without the constraints of adulthood and formality would be a good learning space.”

Otros Dreams en Acción and GFC launched the zine in May 2023 at Pocha House, a community center run by Otros Dreams en Acción, at an event called “Inner Child Festival” (“Festivalito del Niño Interno” in Spanish).

Activity at the Inner child festival

Playing games and learning about migration during the launch of the zine. © GFC

The impact of the zine goes beyond the creative activities included in its pages. It has been shared with many civil society organizations in the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, and they are using it as a way to foster conversations with the migrant children and youth they support and to strengthen their programs and activities serving this population.

Through the zine, GFC and its grassroots partners in the GEM initiative are promoting new ways of understanding the monitoring and evaluation of initiatives. We aim to promote participatory and dignified evaluation and reporting processes, and the zine is a powerful example that monitoring and evaluation can be participatory, creative, and fun.

The zine also defends play and art as powerful and transformative processes that enable the sharing of experiences and learning, promoting new dialogues and creating new spaces for collaboration.

Header photo: The Migrant Museum, which was started by GEM initiative partner Voces Mesoamericanas Acción con Pueblos Migrantes in Mexico, showcases the artistic expressions of migrant children and young people. © GFC

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Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.

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