Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Features
Village of Hope
by Katie Hustad
by Sandra Torres


 MILWAUKEE --  Village of Hope is a group in Milwaukee that helps young girls from the inner city stay out of trouble and pursue higher education.

For Wansheba Barnes reading with these girls during her free time is more than just a hobby.

"I am a former middle school teacher, and so I worked with middle school girls and I realized there were so many things I wanted to teach them but you don't really have the time to teach them because you have 8 other subjects."

That's why she decided to start the organization called "Village of Hope"

"I came up with the name because I believe in the African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child, and I wanted to give the girls hope."

The organization serves as a mentoring program for girls in 6th through 12th grade. It is a way for them to stay out of trouble and reach their potential.

"Even if it kept one girl from getting pregnant or getting involved in drugs, or dropping out of high school, or from committing suicide I knew that it would make a difference."

And so far she has, more than four years after starting the group one of her girls got accepted into college.

19 year old Dallas Turner is now the first in her family to go to college. She says there was no better feeling than getting the acceptance letter into the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee.

"I just thought I was going to finish high school and I wasn't really thinking about college until I started this program."

That's something that brings Wansheba to tears.

"It does something to you because we don't always get girls who started with a 3.0 GPA or have had so many challenges that you wonder how did they even make it?"

In order to keep the college momentum going "Village of Hope" decided to do something different this year. They're going to take the girls on a college tour.

"We're going to go to several colleges in the south."

Four states- eight schools - all in six days.

"The college tour is a great experience for the girls to get out of town, take a look at the colleges, stay on the college campus, and get a change to look at college life.

"Growing up in poverty you really don't know... you want to go to college but you don't know if it's really able to do it so when I was given the opportunity to go on a college tour, it changed my life."

She hopes to change their lives too, just like she did with Dallas.

"You can't give up. That's my motivation.. I can't stop, I can't give up, I gotta do this."

The college tour for the girls and "Village of Hope" are still in need of donations to make this trip possible for all of the girls.

If you would like to make a donation head to this website www.thevillageofhopeinc.com/