A year ago, I was preparing for a trip to India to tell stories of World Vision’s aid work there. I met a lot of people, I saw a lot of things and one girl stayed in my mind. I don’t even know her name.
I saw this girl on the day I visited a rag picking slum in Delhi. What I saw that day was devastating. Our visit caused a lot of excitement: people peeked out of the concrete rooms; plastic chairs were dragged out into the open hurriedly; children peered into my camera for just-one-more picture.
Amidst the noise there was this girl. I couldn’t pick her age but my guess is somewhere between 15 and 18. It was like she was frozen within the hustle around her. A stunning sari wrapped elegantly around her in an imaginary swirl. Her face was so very beautiful, yet I could see a deep echo of sadness there. This girl held herself with a quiet dignity, though there was a weight about her, as if there were many burdens on her shoulders. I wondered about her then. I wonder still. Her face is etched in my mind and I would love to know the story of the quiet girl in the red and green sari. I would ask her what her hopes and dreams are.
That brings me to my own three girls and my hopes and dreams for them. My dream for them is simple: I long to see them shine with strength, confidence and joy. I desire them to grow surrounded by people who value them; to give them as many opportunities as I can so they can be all they can be; to foster strength, and compassion and true beauty. All this for my girls.
As a mother of three daughters, the welfare of girls around the world is especially close to my heart. The face of the girl quiet girl in the red and green sari came to me very strongly last week because I recognised her, not her in person, but I saw this girl embodied in the stories told from around the world. Friday night saw me in the city with a friend for the World Vision Premiere of the Girl Rising documentary. Both my friend and I were incredibly moved by this beautifully shot and inspiring film, starring narrators Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett, Selena Gomez, Anne Hathaway, Salma Hayek, Alicia Keys, Freida Pinto, Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington and Priyanka Chopra.
The film tells the stories of nine girls from around the world who face hardships and injustices like poverty, natural disaster, arranged marriage and slavery, yet these girls overcome through education, fostering change. The film brings to light sobering facts like 66 million girls around the world are not in school and 14 million girls, that’s 38,000 TODAY, will be married under 18 years of age. Countering statistics show education leads to opportunity, leads to change. Did you know a child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to live past the age of 5 and a girl with one year extra education can earn up to 20% more as adult?
The thrust of the message is educating girls, is a key to change. BIG change.
If you have daughters, see Girl Rising. If you have sons, see Girl Rising.
Image credit: 10 x 10 films
Note: The documentary does have adult themes but may be suitable for older children with parental guidance (if I have the opportunity, I will watch it with my two older girls, 10 and 12 ).
About a girl
This post is about a girl. A girl I saw in India. It’s about my girls. It’s about girls around the world. It’s about girls rising — empowering them — so they can be all they can be. I’ve seen with my own eyes the change girls and women can make in a community. I believe it. Be part of the #girlrising movement by sharing on social media, sponsoring a child, sharing your own dreams with Dreamshare, donating to Girl Rising or apply to get the film screened in your school or community.