Sunday, April 26, 2015

Girl Rising

I watched the documentary "Girl Rising" with Matt and Maly the other day.  It's one of those movies that lingers with you and won't let you forget.  "Girl Rising" is the story of nine girls from all over the world who suffer injustices from poverty, to arranged marriages, to child slavery.  I was sure it would be a depressing movie and was a little hesitant to watch it, but I have to say that it is also a very hopeful movie.  It's amazing the difference education can make for the quality of life for girls worldwide who are currently denied an education. 

The youngest and most endearing and adorable of the girls is Wadley who lives in Haiti.  Her family, who already suffered from poverty, was devastated by the earthquakes of a few years ago.  She is seven years old and her happiest memories are from the time before the earthquake when her family was financially able to send her to school - at least intermittently.  She loved school and has big plans for her life, but they are now out of the question since her family can't afford to send her.  There is an outdoor classroom not far from her home.  It's outdoors since the school building was destroyed in the earthquake and hasn't been rebuilt since then.  Wadley shows up one morning and takes her seat with the other students, hoping she won't be noticed.  The teacher immediately sees her and reminds her that her parents haven't paid for her to go to school so she can't stay.  This same scenario continues day after day.  Finally, Wadley tells the teacher, "I will come back everyday until you let me stay."  The teacher relents and allows Wadley to stay.  I'm not sure where Wadley is today, but I know that she isn't going to sit back and let her circumstances determine her life.

Another girl I found remarkable was Suma who lives in Nepal.  She was sold into servitude at age 6 while her brothers went to school.  She was moved from master to master, some kinder and some who were so horrible she couldn't even speak of the things they did to her.  One day, after many years of this life, a social worker/activist comes by and tries to convince her master that what he is doing is wrong and that he should free Suma.  She overhears this conversation and is amazed that someone is speaking to him in such a way on her behalf.  The master tells the woman to get lost, but the woman persists and continues to come back and plead for Suma's freedom.  Eventually he gives in and Suma is given a chance to get an education.  Now she is a crusader for other girls who are in the same situation.  We watched this movie Friday night and I read about the horrible earthquake in Nepal the next morning.  My first thought was for Suma.  I'm praying she's safe.

 It seems there is a way to help girls like Suma and Wadley.  It's certainly not easy - requires a great deal of people who are willing to put their lives aside to go do what they can and a great deal of money.  Certainly dauting, but It's possible to envision it happening.  I even found a website created by the people who made "Girl Rising" letting people know how they can help.  But the girl from the movie who had the biggest impact on me was Amina who lives in Afghanistan.  Amina was forced to marry at the age of 11 and had children while she was still a child.  When she goes in public she has to be completely covered and silent.  She has a lot to say but feels invisible and unheard.  Women who speak out are burned, beaten, or killed.  But Amina has had enough and is ready to fight back.  I'm not sure how she'll do that.  And I'm not sure what we can possibly do to help her.  She left me feeling the most helpless.  How can we change a whole society?  And, particularly, one who feels so strongly that they are right and that we are a threat.  Prayer seems to be all we can do.  I almost want to say that it doesn't seem enough, but I'm praying that God sends the right people to touch the hearts and minds of the people of Afghanistan. 

All nine girls were inspiring and had unbelievable stories.  I recommend that you check out the movie and go to the website below to see how you can help.


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