This year, I stepped out on faith and and launched my own NGO (non-governmental organization) called Bell Global Justice Institute. I spent a lot of 2015 thinking about how to create my own pathways in the human rights and international law and policy field and at the beginning of 2016 I decided that this was the year to manifest my ideas and dreams into action. I decided to name my NGO in honor of my brother Ssgt. Vincent J. Bell, of the U.S. Marines because of his loyal and brave service to our nation, and because of his love of children and his skill of mentoring children and young Marines. He has a strong legacy and he is loved deeply by his brothers and sisters of the U.S. Marine Corps., and I want to continue to honor his legacy through the work of Bell Global Justice Institute.
So what is Bell Global Justice Institute? It is an NGO based out of Detroit, Michigan focused on advancing and promoting the international human right to education for girls in the Detroit area and worldwide. Our work is guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals) and international treaties and mechanisms outlining the right to education. We believe that every girl has the potential to change the world and we will accomplish our work through four basic strategies:
- Raising awareness
- Zealous Advocacy
This year so far has been a year of information gathering, meeting people to tell them about Bell Global, and raising awareness about girls' access to education worldwide.
I am proud to list some of the things we accomplished this year.
On March 16, 2016, I launched Bell Global Justice Institute to the community via social media and our website. In June, we had our very first event in Detroit for the community. It was a film viewing and discussion of the beautiful and riveting documentary "He Named Me Malala." In October, we held a community discussion in commemoration of the United Nations International Day of the Girl. During this event, we were privileged to have Detroit Police Officer Dani Woods speak about the empowerment of women and girls in Detroit and her own story of growing up in Detroit and discovering her powerful voice for advocacy. We also had dynamic internationally known poet Deidre "D.S.Sense" Smith of Detroit write and perform a poem in honor of International Day of the Girl and for Bell Global Justice Institute. The piece "Ruby - A Poem for Women" is on our website and I highly encourage all of you to read it. It is so powerful. In addition to our special speakers, we also screened the documentary "Girl Rising." It is a film about 9 girls from different parts of the world and the barriers they face while trying to go to school. Our vision for Day of the Girl in Detroit was to have a community discussion to connect the global and local issues that girls face in accessing their right to education. In November, I also had the opportunity to partner with Detroit-based NGO Alternatives for Girls to screen and dsicuss "Girl Rising" with about 15 middle school girls.
There is so much more to come with Bell Global Justice Institute. I will continue to work to make Bell Global a true global organization -- and I will take Vincent with me on every step and every milestone.
Here is an important fact: Did you know that according to UNICEF, there are about 62 million girls worldwide not attending school in primary and secondary education. These are 62 million lives, dreams and potential change agents that we need to advocate for -- and this must continue to be a global priority.
This is why I started Bell Global Justice Institute.
I look forward to 2017 and all of the opportunities it will bring.
Below are a few photos of our International Day of the Girl Event in Detroit on Saturday, October 15, 2016.
See you in 2017 and I hope you will join our global movement to empower girls and young women!