Ten years ago, my wife and I had our first child. We were thrilled with our beautiful, healthy baby girl. Anyone who has had a child knows the feeling you get that moment the baby comes – what an amazing experience (says the guy who did not birth the child or carry her for nine months).
From day one, I dreamed of what my daughter would become.
Her arm swings at three months of age convinced me she would become a great volleyball player, crushing the ball over the net. We put her in preschool at 18 months old, where she learned all kind of new things. At fours years old, she had taught herself to read from all of the books we digested. I thought, great she is a genius – scholarships here we come. When she turned five, I knew she would be running around the other girls scoring goals, but it turned out that soccer seemed more of a social activity for her.
One important lesson I have learned from my daughter is to take time and smell the roses. I have a bit of an achiever personality, so she is such a great reminder to me to slow down and enjoy my family and the things that I might otherwise pass by. She began piano lessons when she was seven, and I thought to myself how beautifully she would be able to master the instrument. Three years later I am shocked at how good she has become. I always thought my daughter would be smart and successful, but I had no idea how stunning she would become at 10 years of age.
Educating Girls Ends Poverty
Living here in the U.S., one thing I never thought was how I would prepare my precious daughter to become a prostitute at age 12 to help support the family. It happens in many places around the world, including a community where Food for the Hungry works, and this is not OK!
In a village in Asia, we have begun work with a community that has supported themselves through prostitution. They are low caste people who have no other way to make money and have served at the pleasure of the upper caste for 500 years.
Shalu was a young girl in this community who witnessed her older sister’s suffering as a sex worker. She faced much trauma in her home when customers would harass her sister. Fortunately, Shalu met a lady who introduced her to the House of Palms where she could continue education and avoid the vicious, dangerous trap of becoming a sex worker. Shalu is now 19 and studying in twelth grade.
It‘s not OK that today 31 million girls of primary school age are still excluded from learning and 493 million women are illiterate – 64 percent of the world total. Food for the Hungry, like the UN, is committed to adolescent girls having the right to a safe, educated and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women.
- Education reduces poverty
- In low-income countries, an additional year of education adds about 10% to a person’s income on average
- Maternal education improves children’s nutrition and chances of survival
- Education helps fight HIV/AIDS and other diseases
- Education promotes gender equality
Being a parent of a stunning 10-year-old daughter, I could not imagine her encountering some of the trials that girls and women face around the globe. Through our work in Asia, Food for the Hungry is able to help girls who are facing terrifying futures. In our ongoing work around the world, we are able to protect and extend the education of children through programs funded through child sponsorship.
Currently, 72,594 female children are currently registered in our child sponsorship program between Kindergarten and thirteenth grade, as young as four years old. Just think about the impact that those girls can make in the next generation. Most of the girls are sponsored currently, but there are some in that number that aren’t. Would you consider investing in ending poverty through educating a girl?