Girls’ Voices in Gu Vo

As Girls’ Voices workshops begin, our team visited the 2019 cohort from the Tohono O’odham Reservation in Gu Vo, Arizona. Through our partnership with the Native American Advancement Foundation, young women on the reservation are taking a stand for their education and sharing their journey with us through video.

In an effort to inspire this year’s participants to create digital stories about their lives, their triumphs, and their goals, we invited Girls’ Voices alumn and now-intern, Evelyn Casas, to co-facilitate this video workshop.

“What I most enjoyed about this experience was being able to support three girls who were eager to share their story to the world. Getting to know their struggles, such as having to wake up before the sun to get to school has made me grateful. The experience has inspired me to continue to help young people reach their education goals,” shared Evelyn.

Tia and her mom

Shani and her son

Girls’ Voices returning scholars, Tia and Shani, wanted their video this year to show the progress they had made since the last workshop, two years ago. Tia is moving on from middle school and getting ready to go to boarding school in Oklahoma. Shani has graduated from high school and her son is now four years old. A lot happens in two years!


Jaeney, a first-time participant, wanted to tell the story of her life—the importance of graduating high school, attending college, and being a community leader.

It was a joy to create with the girls, in the beautiful, hot desert landscape of Gu Vo.

“Despite the raging dry heat, I could honestly say this experience was unforgettable! Everything from the food to learning about a new culture and language was amazing. I got to go back home knowing some O’odham, a language I didn’t even know existed,” Evelyn said.

The young filmmakers each communicated a strong theme about the importance of honoring their Tohono O’odham culture, their traditions, and showing their deep pride in their homeland. Their moms beamed with pride about their goals to not only finish school, but their desires to inspire other girls to persevere, pursue their goals and complete their education.

Selina, from the Native American Advancement Foundation, said, “Everybody had a good time sharing our world through these videos. There are people living all over the world and part of the point of Girls’ Voices is to share your world. This is where you live. And this is where we live! We live very far from the city, so that is the beauty of creating and sharing our stories this way.”

“It was hard and awkward at times to be on camera, but it was actually really, really fun,” said Jaeney.

We can’t wait to see the final videos from Shani, Jaeney, and Tia!