Friday, November 26, 2010

The Girl Effect

  This Thanksgiving, I have so much to be thankful for.  In preschool, everyday, we have something that is called circle time.  In my opinion, it is probably the most important aspect of the day, as it is when we practice vocabulary, questions and answers.  This week, I have chosen the topic of Thanksgiving despite the fact that this is once again uniquely a North American thing. (Canadians have their Thanksgiving in October) The question of the week, therefore is, "What are you thankful for?"  The children give a myriad of answers ranging from dolls, moms, sisters, TV to individual friends in the class.  I sometimes get a shout out of appreciation as well.  But it has made me reflect quite a bit on what am I thankful for in my life , as I have had to answer this question twice everyday this week.  I have come to realize  that people as blessed as we are, as Americans are, as the industrialized world is, that we don't really appreciate the gifts we have until they have been taken away.  It's difficult to express my gratitude, as just about every aspect of my life is a blessing.

 I am thankful for my parents (and rest of my family for that matter) who have always, and I mean always supported me.  The basic purpose of a parent is to make sure their child survives, lives to adulthood.  To many parents, this can mean different things, this can mean providing financially, it can be in the form of food in the gullet and a roof overhead.  If my parents had provided nothing more than this, they would have been doing their required duty, but they didn't stop there.  They loved me.  They loved me unconditionally even when I threw screaming impassioned temper-tantrums (and you better believe that someone as dramatic as I am could throw a proper temper-tantrum), even when I barked like a dog as a two year old in a restaurant and embarrassed them beyond measure, and even when I made decisions they disapproved of, they loved me for being me, for just being their daughter.  And I haven't just had the support of my parents but my amazingly supportive family, and friends who I consider as important as family.  When I first suggested living abroad, my family didn't say, "no, that isn't possible." Instead they said, "When can we come visit you?" But I haven't just been emotionally blessed beyond measure, but in every other aspect of my life as well.  I have never gone without food.  I have never slept outside unless it was intentional.  I have had electricity and running water for almost every single moment of my life.  But you know what hadn't occurred to me to be thankful for until just a few days ago with thanks to the attention-deprived action of our insane neighbor, was peace.  Although our country has been technically "at war" for almost ten years, I have never seen war. I have never lost someone to a landmine or a car bomb.   I have never been afraid for my life.  I have never not known peace.  I have never felt hopeless about my future because as an American we are told that dreams are possible.  Now we can debate over the veracity of the latter statement, but the truth is that being American automatically puts us strides ahead of other human beings in other parts of the world.  We are born with possibilities beyond what so many in this world are able to achieve.  But a future of love and laughter is available to us with commitment.  If we only lasso our future with sheer strength and determination and refuse to let go anything is really possible for us.  I could go on and on about my many blessings, but what I want to talk about at this moment are those who on this Thanksgiving day are hungry or ailing.  Those individuals, in parts of the world, who are born into cyclical poverty and see no outreaching hand to pull them out.  Those who don't have the possibility of education.  Those who don't have hope, don't even understand the concept of the word as it has never applied to their lives. Without possibility these people, whom are our brothers and sisters of the Earth live a life I can't even begin to pretend to fathom.
My aunt recently introduced me to nonprofit  called "The Girl Effect."   This nonprofit is throwing its support behind girls.  They believe that if they can help girls in poverty become educated, they can break the cycle for the next generation. The video below is their campaign.  I urge you to watch it and when you are going around the table numbering off your many blessings in front of the turkey feast, you can consider ways to help these girls better their lives and communities to become as blessed as we are.
 Click here to see on Youtube

Why so much support for the female and not the male?  An unconnected non-profit group, called the Hunger Project, who gives women microloans explains much better than I ever could.
Women bear almost all responsibility for meeting basic needs of the family, yet are systematically denied the resources, information and freedom of action they need to fulfill this responsibility.
The vast majority of the world's poor are women. Two-thirds of the world's illiterates are female. Of the millions of school age children not in school, the majority are girls. And today, HIV/AIDS is rapidly becoming a woman's disease. In several southern African countries, more than three-quarters of all young people living with HIV are women.
The current world food price crisis is having a severe impact on women. Around the world, millions of people eat two or three times a day, but a significant percentage of women eat only once. And, now, many women are denying themselves even that one meal to ensure that their children are fed. These women are already suffering the effects of even more severe malnutrition, which inevitably will be their children's fate as well. The impact of this crisis will be with us for many years.
Studies show that when women are supported and empowered, all of society benefits. Their families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves and incomes increase. In short, communities become more resilient.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!  We can't wait to see you for CHRISTMAS!!!


Susie said...

What an awesome ogranization!

Anita said...

I think it's great that you are letting your readers know about the girleffect web site. I watched the video, and while the info is not new to me, it never fails to stir up my emotions when I see and hear these things.
I sometimes think that my future will include working with girls somewhere in the world.

Listing the things that you are thankful for show that you are indeed blessed.

Average Girl said...

I posted another version of this video 2 months ago on my blog... It is so heart wrenching and awe inspiring and imagine what we all could do... thanks for reminding me how much this affected me!