CONTENT WARNING: Suicide
When Amira Shousha signed up for Daughters of the Vote (DOV) in 2019, she never expected it to have such an impact afterwards.
“I had this drive that I couldn’t possibly explain. I wanted to do so many projects in so many different directions,” she said. “I was so excited about it (DOV). The whole entire process was very emotional and very empowering as well. Even to this day, I’m still looking for different opportunities to get that thrill again so I can keep doing more.”
Amira represented Edmonton West in the Daughters of the Vote program. She is currently a third year student at the University of Alberta studying Psychology with a minor in Sociology. Of Egyptian descent, Amira has lived in Canada her whole life and moved around numerous times when she was younger. She has travelled to many places and loves meeting new people to gain new experiences.
“I have a huge drive to tap into different people, people I wasn’t raised with. I like to make myself uncomfortable. That’s how I grow and develop.”
After DOV in April of 2019, delegates had the opportunity to apply for the Rosemary Speirs Community Grant and gain $1000 towards a project. Amira took that opportunity to enhance a project she had already created, Girl Talk.
Girl Talk involves girls who are primarily Muslim, ages 13-17 years old, who meet with Amira on a weekly basis to have an outlet to talk about different topics, including identity and mental health, struggles, and issues as well as opportunities that they are facing
“I wanted a positive outlet for them to get what I got at DOV, to have positive energy around them with mentorship and advice from one another, and provide a space and platform to really connect with who they are as individuals,” said Amira. “It’s primarily Muslim women and girls from different cultures, and revamping their identity as Muslim women and allowing them to actually have pride in that. I think at that age, it’s hard to stand out for what makes you different, you want to blend into the crowd. So I am giving them the opportunity and space to be proud of who they are.”
Amira used the grant money to host an open house for Girl Talk and make a video featuring participants to promote the project to others. Girl Talk now has 21 to 22 young girls involved. With the leftover money, Amira made mental health kits for each girl with bath bombs, face kits and accessories - something she thought was simple, but had a huge impact.
“In terms of mental health, there was a young girl in our community and there was a bit of confusion as to whether or not she was attempting suicide. She was the same age as them and she wanted to join the group. It was an emotional time for me and them,” said the delegate. “We lost the girl in our community, she passed away in September and we are not all over that yet. I think mental health became a huge focus because of that incident, because they are more likely to be in tune with how they feel and how to express it to other people and to know they are allowed.”
The discussions at Girl Talk are not restricted and Amira wants them to talk about what is important to them while keeping it fun. Though the conversation is not restricted, there are different events for engagement. Amira had an event for mothers and daughters to cater to those who have a hard time understanding one another. The event allowed daughters to explain what they might be experiencing and at the same time give the daughters feedback about why their mother is reacting in such a way.
“Since then I got them to communicate with their siblings, and strengthen their family and moms, which I think is really important relationship, if not the biggest one. It creates stability and I think that gives time to figure out the things that are challenging, like what you want to do with the rest of your life and you need support.”
Amira said DOV was the opportunity that helped strengthen the drive she already had and motivated her to continue helping others on a higher level.
“I needed something to push it out of me and I attribute that to DOV because as soon as that took place, my life went in a completely different direction. Part of that discovery was self-reflection and growth. As I grow as an individual, I help them grow and it’s positive. When I saw that I had an impact, it made me more resilient and stronger as an individual. I am in a place to mentor people and being a role model to them, it makes me a better individual and I am eternally grateful” said Amira. “I really hope DOV continues way passed the next few years. It’s an important part of society, primarily for this age group”.
If you would like to contribute to your community like Amira is, and you were a Daughters of the Vote delegate in 2017 or 2019, you have until January 15 to apply for the Rosemary Speirs Leadership Grant!