There was a time when people thought it was not important to educate girls.
The story of Malala Yousafzai (born 12 July 1997), who fought hard for the education of girls in the Swat Valley in Northwest Pakistan under the Taliban rule brought world attention to the fact that though it is eschewed in the constitution of many countries, girls still have to fight for the right to be educated equally as boys. Rural girls in developing countries are still not getting the opportunities.
Last year, a man visited the British International School Phuket and brought a message of change and empowerment. The school, set amongst the hills of Phuket, is home to some 850 students, ranging in age from four to 18.
The visitor's aim was to encourage privileged girls to help those who are less fortunate than them. Several girls visited an orphanage in India last April, and during their visit, they got to know one little girl who stood out amongst the rest. They wanted to give this little girl a chance to study at their school.
Together the girls took their idea to the Headmaster and to their great delight the management were willing to offer a scholarship place the school. However, the school could not also support travel costs or the cost of laptop and uniform. This left the girls with a major challenge, but they refused to be put off.
And so, the project began, under the International Women's Association (IWA) Phuket with the school. Cosima Der Roche De La Baume, Emily Varley, Emiri Matsui and Sophie Duncan, all aged 15, threw themselves wholeheartedly into raising the necessary finances. Their target was to raise THB100,000 (approximately £2,255) by the New Year. So far, they have achieved 85% of their target via a series of well-planned fundraisers.
Of course, there were the traditional bake sales. These were sold alongside tiny boxes of 'love', namely beautifully wrapped little keepsakes with a hearT-warming message. A tennis tournament and a boot sale added to the girls' coffers. The Christmas hamper raffle was a big contributor to the finances, as the hampers were filled with irresistible luxuries such as a Christmas cake, mincemeat and chocolates, to name but a few. An innovative project to make a quilt from donated secondhand uniforms is currently taking place, and the quilt will be auctioned off to help the girls meet their target.
All in all, it had been a really hardworking few months for Cosima, Emily, Emiri and Sophie as these hectic activities were happening in the midst of their IGCSEs.
"I think this experience has made us realise just how much time, effort and money has to go into changing the life of one individual. We all feel so proud to have been able to give a young girl the same opportunity that we take for granted. It has taken a long time to bring her to our school and it feels amazing to know we are making significant progress. We have gained much from this. This project has definitely developed our organisation and time management skills as well as educate us on the difficulty of changing the life of a young girl for the better.
"Our next steps are getting the girl settled into our school as well as provide her with everything she will need for her new life at BISP. This girl will then become our "adopted little sister" and the four of us will take on the role of making sure she settles into the school and her new life as quickly as possible. After that we will come up with a new project or find another girl or group of girls to help, although we have not thought this far ahead just yet."
The gift of education, empowerment and lifelong friendships - what better gifts for Christmas than this modern trinity of incense, frankincense and myrrh.
Related article: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/hard-girls-rural-india-stay-school/
First published in www.RaisingHappyStrongKids.com
Photographs: The British International School Phuket