You Can Fix This Picture: The Girl Effect
One of the happiest girls I’ve ever met doesn’t own a pair of shoes. She is less than ten years old, but she has more responsibility on her small shoulders than I had at 15, or 20, or even today. Her name is Mercy, and I met her in a rural community in the Maasai Mara region of Kenya, where I was building a school. This little girl had no shoes, and carried her younger sibling on her back, but she had a family and friends, clean water to drink, and she was going to school. She pulled me away from the work site and across the grassy field to her classroom. She sat down with me at her desk, and with the proudest smile I’ve ever seen, she read to me.
I grew up in a part of the world where girls are empowered and educated, but it wasn’t until I met Mercy that I realized how lucky I was. I realized something else that day, too. Something more important, something bigger than me and my small life. Sitting in that classroom listening to Mercy read, I knew just from the determined look on her face that I was looking at a little girl who would grow up to be a leader in her community. I couldn’t have felt more sure that these girls—if given the opportunity—will lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.