MoneyGram Foundation Launch Celebration
Oct 11, 2012 — Susan Cox, Holt’s vice president of policy and external affairs, is currently in India visiting Holt’s programs and partner agencies. Yesterday she helped with a special event in celebration of a $100,000 grant recently awarded to one of our partners. MoneyGram awarded the grant to help 300 girls from underprivileged families who are at risk of dropping out of school. Holt began an educational sponsorship program in India in 2008 to empower girls and promote gender equality. The MoneyGram grant will effectively double the number of girls sponsored through our partner in Bangalore, providing assistance with school tuition as well as books and school uniforms.
The Following is Susan’s account of the joyful MoneyGram celebration:
Bangalore, India — The first girls to arrive for the special event wore blue school uniforms, their hair in long braids, tied with blue ribbons. The teachers led them to their chairs, and they filed in quietly and sat patiently, waiting for the program to begin. Another school arrived later. These girls wore white uniforms with red ties in their hair. Behind the girls, their mothers sat quietly. Behind the mothers were several rows of fathers.
As the program began, Harsh Lambah, regional director for MoneyGram, spoke to the girls and expressed MoneyGram’s commitment to their education, urging them to study hard and make the most of their opportunities. He then presented a check for $100,000 to our partner agency for a 3-year project sponsoring the education of 300 girls in India. The girls and their families are all part of Holt’s family preservation program in India. Each girl also received a 10-dollar voucher for school books.
MoneyGram had produced a video highlighting several of the girls and their mothers talking about what it means to them to have the opportunity to attend school. As the girls appeared on screen, the girls in the audience giggled as each of their classmates appeared.
As I sat on the stage, looking out at all of the girls, I couldn’t help but think of the others girls I had seen during my time in Bangalore. Girls working beside their mothers and fathers on the street, selling fruits and vegetables, sorting garbage or watching their younger brothers and sisters play in the dirt by the side of the road. The girls in the audience with bright blue and crisp white uniforms will have the opportunity to elevate their lives through education. The parents sitting proudly behind their girls were clearly pleased for this future – a future filled with endless possibilities for their daughters.
This joyful occasion, by coincidence, occurred the day before the international Day of the Girl Child.
The official program ended and the girls shook hands with Harsh Lambah and the dignitaries attending the event. Following the program, the girls and their families enjoyed a light lunch outside on the school grounds. The colorful saris of the women and the bright uniforms and shiny dark hair of the girls presented a beautiful mosaic in the sunlight.
Later in the afternoon, when everything had been cleaned up and put away, I walked outside and looked across at the schoolyard. The girls were on the playground under the trees. You could hear laughter and animated voices as the girls played together. I walked over and asked if I could take their picture. The quiet girls of the morning became excited. Giggling, they asked me my name and where I lived. We took several group pictures together, taking turns with the camera. It was clear that these girls were enthusiastic — full of life and possibilities. I asked if they were going to study hard. “Oh yes, ma’am,” they replied.
As we drove away, the girls stood in the bright sunlight waving and smiling. I will remember this day, and these girls, for a very long time.