MIAMI – In March 2005, Shamele Jenkins founded a support group for single mothers. Three years later, the organization has evolved into a group for women from all walks of life.
The Nubian Sisterhood (TNS) is a “women’s empowerment group” aimed at individual and communal upliftment. Through charity services and self-help workshops, this female fellowship works both internally and externally, helping to improve the lives of its members who, in turn, help improve their community.
Workshops cater holistically to the mental, physical, spiritual and financial being — from Tai Chi self-defense, wellness and nutrition, to financial and estate planning and economic empowerment.
The Sisterhood meets twice a month, on the second and fourth Saturdays.
This Saturday, April 19, the group will host its second annual Sistah’s Day Out event, featuring health screenings, a women’s financial seminar, hair care tips and even a fashion show case of the latest trends for Nubian women, among other activities.
In addition to local events like Sistah’s Day Out, the group also extends its mission overseas to Africa.
From November 6 to 16, group members will go on a good will mission to Cameroon, a country in western Africa that is east of Nigeria and southwest of Chad.
The group plans to visit six schools and four orphanages there, seeing more than 2,000 children, to which they will donate school and medical supplies.
The group plans to stop in Kumba, a city of about 125,000 in the southwestern portion of Cameroon.
In addition to visiting the children, TNS will also meet with several women’s groups in Cameroon.
George Fonyam, president of the Cameroon-American Chamber of Commerce, is closely affiliated with TNS. His work here in the United States, he said, is to “help link businesses and organizations here in the U.S. with similar ones in Africa.”
He told the South Florida Times how much the children in Cameroon would benefit from the good will mission.
“For a child in a village in Africa, this is a dream come true,” he said.
He commended TNS for all they do here and for their aspirations to reach out to women and children in Africa.
“[TNS] is necessary,” he said. “It’s really good giving; not just money. They teach, talk and share their experiences.”
Fonyam encourages other women to join the group and take part in the mission.
“When these women come back, their lives will be changed completely,” he said.
At a recent meeting, several “sisters” shared their vision of TNS with the South Florida Times.
“It’s an organization that allows you to be the best you can be,” said Shirley Gardener. “We’re [women] coming together to make a difference.”
Michelle Johnson, who has been a member for the past three years, said it gave her “an opportunity to grow.”
After experiencing “serious turmoil” in her life, Johnson said the continuous support she received from the group has been the most beneficial.
“I am part of something,” she said. “This is a group of women who understand what you’re going through.”
Other women, like Theresa Clark and Rosalyn Kelly, said they appreciate the camaraderie and social atmosphere of the sisterhood.
Kelly said she likes the “friendly interaction” with other women. “It’s an outreach organization. And I like having women friends to hang out with.”
The women are very close with one another, and encourage ongoing communication.
“We can all use another ear — on good and bad days,” said Rosetta Peterkin, a member since last year.
“This is a retreat where you can come let your fears down and be honest,” said Jenkins. “Talking about your problem is half the remedy.”
To strengthen the bond of the Sisterhood, the group schedules regular “social nights” where they all go out to dinner, or to see a play. Sometimes they have weekend getaways.
TNS also encourages strong family ties.
“We are nothing without our family,” said Jenkins. “They define our character.”
As a mother, Jenkins is mindful of the everyday stress of being a woman and running a household.
“Women of color have always been the backbone of the family,” she said. “But sometimes we forget that mothers are flesh and bone too. TNS helps us all become a little more stress-less. We have to take care of us so we can take care of the rest of the family.”
Taking care of others is part of TNS’ greater mission.
“I appreciate being able to impact someone else’s life,” said Holly “Sunshine” Dixon-Harris.
Jenkins extends an open invitation for women who are interested in joining The Nubian Sisterhood family.
“All you have to do [to become a member] is come to the meetings,” she said.
In regard to the good will mission, Jenkins said they are looking for any and all sponsors and professionals who want to take part.
“This is not just a looksy-looksy,” she said. “We are family going to help make a difference.”
Photo by Sumner Hutcheson II. George Fonyam, left, president of the Cameroon-American Chamber of Commerce, joined Shamele Jenkins, right, founder of The Nubian Sisterhood, at a recent meeting of the women’s group.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: “A Sistah’s Day Out’’
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 19
WHERE: Florida International Academy, 7630 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami.
COST: $25 per person in advance, $30 at the door (includes massage and lunch).
CONTACT: For more information on The Nubian Sisterhood, Sistah’s Day Out, and/or the good will mission, please contact Shamele Jenkins at 305-469-1157, 786-356-1207.