Today, I’m thinking about my girls in Kenya. My girls are amazing, talented, beautiful, intelligent, creative, determined and inspiring. They all have a light to share, and I feel completely humbled and privileged to know them, and to help their light shine in this world.
Their childhoods have not been idyllic. They’ve had to grow up too fast. Many of my girls have been sexually assaulted. Many of them were abandoned or watched their parents succumb to the poverty and disease which enveloped them from birth. Many had to leave school to care for younger siblings, and some even fled their homes to avoid an early child marriage. They have every reason to give up, but they won’t, because they know they’ve been given an opportunity to live again at Rapha Community Center.
A girl’s light should never be dimmed because of circumstance. Every girl in this world should have the opportunity to shine, and her light will become brighter if she has access to quality education. When I was in Kenya this summer, the girls in class 8 were preparing for a school debate. They had to argue whether it was more important to educate girls or boys. When I found this out, I jumped at the opportunity to help, and decided this would be a perfect chance to share more about some of the great work that is being done to raise awareness of this issue. Huddled around my laptop in their dorm room, we started by looking at the Let Girls Learn initiative. We learned that there are 62 million girls around the world who are not in school. We looked at statistics, read success stories, and watched videos. We watched The Girl Effect, which illustrates what can happen when a girl receives an education. They asked questions, we found answers, and through it all they were completely engaged.
Then we watched Malala Yousafzai accept the Nobel Peace Prize. During her speech, I stepped back so more girls could get closer to the screen. They were riveted, and I could see in their eyes how inspired they were by Malala’s story. It was a moving experience to watch them take in all of this new information, and I couldn’t help but wonder if one my girls would go on to encourage other girls to go to school too.
One of my girls at Rapha wrote this to me in a letter, “We thank you Jennifer for the far that you have brought us. My life is how it is because of your purpose from God. I could be a street girl now, but God used you to mold my life, and now my future is much better. I love you. You have been a blessing to my life.”
Each of my girls has a great purpose too, and on this International Day of the Girl Child, I am thankful to God for enabling me to help my girls discover their purpose so their light can shine!