For a summer, I was a part of something really amazing that allowed me to meet inspiring people, see some incredible things, but more importantly to make a difference to the lives of young people. I felt completely passionate about something I was doing, and that's a feeling I'm trying really hard not to lose now I'm back in the Uk.
I never really understood the power of education until i saw people who didn't have it. We are given education here, it's an expectation in the Uk and one that I, and all my friends fully take for granted. Working in a school in a rural third world country, the reality of education is slightly different, although one of the best things i found was that the nature of childhood doesn't change depending on income. What does change is the way you are treated depending on your gender.
Yesterday, someone told me an old African proverb, 'When you educate a Woman, you educate the whole family.' Another translation is, 'educate a woman, educate a nation.' Women and children are the backbone of developing countries, the amazing thing is, with time, it is their education that leads to an advancing society. Women perform two thirds of the world's working hours, yet receive only ten percent of the wages; educating the young women is the first steps to a country moving forward. For example, putting contraception into the hands of women will not only reduce infant mortality, but also reduce the spread of AIDS, reduce unsafe abortions and risks to the mother, slow population growth in developing countries and empower women to become part of business cooperatives to raise themselves, and their families out of poverty. I was sitting in a lecture on the possibility of ending extreme poverty within our generation which is an amazing idea, and surprisingly possible. There are real cures to the world's biggest health problems, Smallpox has been eradicated, polio is down 99%, and malaria 75%. Education, equality and maternal health are now incredibly important in really seeing the end of extreme poverty, a problem predominantly plaguing women.
One of the most amazing things i found working at the Rosie May Home, an all girls orphanage, was the way in which women connect over universally shared experiences; poverty, loss, discrimination and most importantly, sharing education. The experiences that I shared with the girls I worked with. We're looking at a world after the Millenium Development Goals, and this is a world in which women still face the dilemma of having to sell their children, prostitute themselves or face gender based violence and prejudice. Working on the road, and hoping one day to find their children again simply because they don't have any other option. I am incredibly proud of the girls i have worked with and witnessed firsthand how intelligent they are, and how capable they are of changing the face of a third world country plagued with poverty, alcoholism and homelessness. Educating these young women is the first step to create a brighter future for the entire country, and empowering a generation to see the end of extreme poverty.