“Why do they want to let the children to study?” says Payal, her dark brown eyes perplexed.
“Especially girls…?” Mayvis adds hesitantly — the addition to Payal’s statement that makes all four girls nod in mutual questioning. Payal, Sanjana, Manixa and Mayvis are recording a message for their Holt sponsors. And this, their biggest question, marks a drastic shift in tone.
Just five minutes ago they sat upstairs in their classroom — proudly performing an American pop song in front of their classmates. Their friend group, all between the ages of 11 and 13, calls themselves the “Planet Chicks.” They like to talk on the school bus, dance and sing, and encourage one another to do the right thing.
They are happy, carefree girls. But, as their biggest question lets on, they know things could be drastically different. The conversation becomes serious.
“They don’t like girls,” Sanjana says, “they only like boys.”
“People in the village,” Payal clarifies.
These girls all come from families that have migrated from the villages to the booming, southern city of Bengaluru. The villages they speak of are actually cities of several hundred thousand people, where people still adhere more strictly to the rules of traditional patriarchal society. Where they come from, it is common to educate boys, but not educate girls. Where they come from, young girls get married.
This is an excerpt from a longer story that originally appeared on the Holt Stories blog in July 2018.
Around the world, many girls are denied a basic right… an education.
In countries where women do not have a voice in society, they are more vulnerable to early marriage, trafficking and child labor. Around the world, school is often the greatest line of defense for vulnerable women and girls.
When a girl goes to school, she spends the day safe and protected in a classroom, and walks out empowered to make her own choices in life.
In India, and in developing countries around the world, the COVID-19 crisis has significantly increased the risk of child marriage. But there’s one way to protect the future of girls everywhere: an education.
Across the globe, girls who marry young are more likely to experience domestic violence. They are at increased risk of early and unplanned pregnancy. They can become isolated from family and friends. And as the demands of housework and motherhood take up their time, they are less likely to stay in school.
The global COVID crisis may set back decades of progress even in communities where our partners had effectively ended the practice of child marriage. But one key factor continues to make a dramatic difference in the lives of girls and women. And that’s keeping girls in school.
In India, and in developing countries around the world, the COVID-19 crisis has significantly increased the risk of child marriage. But one key factor continues to make a dramatic difference in the lives of vulnerable girls and young women: child sponsorship.
Rani* was just 17. She did not want to get married. She argued and pleaded with her mom. She asked her social worker to convince her mom to delay her marriage. Rani knew her mom was struggling to support her and her two little sisters. If she got married, it would ease the burden on her family.
“My mom has always been under stress due to conservative traditions at home,” Kiran says of her mom, who cries today when she thinks of all that Kiran has achieved. “She could not take education or choose her partner on her own, and had to live life on other’s terms and conditions.” Continue reading “The Life She Dreamed Of”
The story of the Red Stone School in Mongolia — a sponsor-supported school for children who live and work in a garbage dump. A longer version of this story appeared in Holt’s fall 2017 sponsorship magazine.
You smell, says the teacher. You can’t wear dirty clothes to school. You can’t learn anything. You don’t belong here.
You belong to the garbage.
On the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, high above the city at the crest of a hill, a land of discarded waste sprawls over miles and miles, shrouded by a heavy cloud of toxic dust. This wasteland, this dumping ground for a million people’s garbage, is a living place, teeming with animals and people who pick through the refuse to gather whatever they can find to survive. A rotten loaf of bread. A bone with some meat on it. Plastic or glass or metal that can be recycled for money.
To get first pick at the discarded food in the trucks that arrive at dawn, some people sleep here, using cardboard and old tires to block the icy night wind. To stay warm, they burn tires and trash, breathing noxious smoke into their lungs. In winter, when they climb up on the trucks, some of them slip and fall to their deaths. In summer, when it is hot and damp, some of them get life-threatening infections. Continue reading “A School for Kids in the Garbage Dump”
For generations of children with special needs in Vietnam, school has been something only other children get to do. But now, in one rural community, over one hundred sponsored children are shattering stereotypes, exceeding expectations — and loving every minute of it.
In her early teens, Devi thought she’d never be able to attend school. But then, Holt sponsors began supporting her family — lifting them out of the darkness.
“Can I say something?” Devi asks, shyly. Devi has a thin face and large, deep eyes, just like her mom. She looks less tired than her mom — although her eyes hold more suffering than most teenage girls.
“Of course,” we tell her. She had been mostly quiet during our time talking with the family, so what she says next surprises us all.
Immediately, tears cascade down her cheeks.
“I’m not speaking in English nicely, but [I want to] so thank you. It is God’s grace and mercy that you help us. I want to say, God is helping me through you. God is working, and you are His engine for good,” she says, becoming more choked up and passionate as she goes. “My mom is working and I’m working, but really, you are helping in my education and studies and all things. I am very thankful for you. Nobody sees me, but you do. You help give us medicine, milk and food. All my family was in darkness, but now there is light.”