One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is our only solution.
– Malala Yousafzai
Her name was Francia. She was the sweetest but most incredibly shy young girl who preferred to speak with her infectious smile rather than her words. I met her my senior year of college during an alternative spring break trip with my university to a small, rural town in the Dominican Republic.
She was no more than eight years old and I often saw her during the day on her trek to or from school. There was one school in the town and students only attended for half days since there weren’t enough teachers, books, or desks to accommodate all the kids at once. Despite this, it was clear that Francia was smart, blooming with potential, and had a natural craving and love for learning.
It’s been four years since I took that trip and I often wonder about Francia and where she is now. Since upward mobility on any level was difficult for families like hers, I imagine she still lives in the same town, in the same house with no running water or electricity—and sadly yet realistically, that could be where she lives for the rest of her life.
But what if she went to a different school? One that had better resources so that she could learn for the entire day?
Or what if she had the opportunity to attend school here in the United States? How much different would her life be?
Questions like these make me passionate about education. The truth is, there are so many girls like Francia—globally and right in the neighborhoods we call home—who don’t reach their full potential simply because of the lack of educational opportunity. With education being one of the most significant factors that determines the direction of a young girl’s life, it’s up to women like you and me to do our part in making sure that all roads lead to positive social, economic, and overall well-being.
Though it may seem like a tall order, we must not underestimate our ability to make a difference, even as just one person. Young girls like Francia need people to advocate for them. They need women like us to support them, encourage them, and inspire them to achieve success on their own terms and strive relentlessly towards their dreams, even when they’re the only ones who believe in the vision they have for themselves.
What’s amazing is that there are so many ways to take action beyond a classroom. Consider making a pledge to be an advocate or giving a donation to help sponsor a young girl’s education. Even something as simple as sharing what you know on social media can have a huge impact. The more we act and speak up, the better paths we create for the young women coming up behind us.
Access to education is the powerful key that unlocks the door to a better future, a better society. Francia and other girls like her deserve to hold that key. Our world depends on it.
Kiara Hall is a proud millennial and a firm believer in the power of storytelling to share knowledge, inspire ideas, and foster change. Passionate about the discussion of social, economic, and political issues on a national and global scale—especially those relating to women and girls—she’s a blossoming writer that aspires to create meaningful content to contribute to that space.