Two of my favorite places as a child were school and the library. Yeah I was a nerd and proud of it. Actually, I'm still a bit nerdy. The library and school were my heavens because I loved learning. I grew up in East Oakland and I may not have traveled to Europe or Asia like some of the wealthy kids in the Oakland Hills or Piedmont area. But I could tell you about these places thanks to a book I checked out or my social studies class. Some girls in other countries don't have the privilege of waking up in the morning and going to school. In some places, learning how to read could cost a girl her life. Today's "Fly Lady of the Day" are actually groups of girls. Young women in Afghanistan and parts of Africa literally risk their lives to get an education. In Afghanistan the Taliban doesn't believe women should be educated. Above is a photo from the New York Times taken in January. The girl with the scar on her face is 15-year-old Shamsia Husseini. She and her sister were walking to school when a man pulled up in a motorcycle, asked them if they were going to school and sprayed their faces with acid. There have been other cases like this, but according the Times, the Taliban denies responsibility. These girls have endured acid burning their skin, school bombings and other forms of violence, but they they want to learn so bad, even if they are killed as a result. I'm tearing up just thinking about them.
In some African countries women are also forbidden to learn. When civil war breaks out school buildings are often destroyed. Maryam and Aminata, are eight year old girls from Cote d'Ivoire or the Ivory Coast. UNICEF repaired the school in their community after it was damaged during civil conflict in 2002. And there are other obstacles African girls face. Remember Oprah's special about her South Africa school for girls? I still remember listening to the students talk about how they travel hours by foot and bus to get to their schools. Their journey to the schoolhouse was dangerous because of sexual predators. Girls are getting raped on their way to school. Some have even been raped by their teachers and classmates on campus. But there desire for learning fuels their courage to keep going.
We in America are going through really hard times. Trust me, I know personally. But if these young girls and women can have the strength to get up everyday and go to school, not knowing if they'll be killed or raped--we can keep going. And we can be thankful for what we have. These young girls have incredible drive and spirit. It angers me that we live in a world where they can't learn to read or write in peace. Literally, in peace. It frustrates the heck out of me that some parents here in the U.S. haven't taught their kids to value education.
Being a woman isn't easy. Sometimes it amazes me how much stuff we endure. But I'm even more amazed by how strong we are.
"If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation."
1.New York Times/Danfung Dennis