Growing up in a still developing country, I consider myself one of the lucky ones who had access to a good education and a comfortable life. My parents made sure of that and I will be eternally grateful to them. They taught us the importance of hard work, struggle, and always believing that as women, in a male-dominated and biased society, we could achieve anything. But looking around, things became much clearer. Not everyone was as fortunate as I was.
I remember on a hot summer day, when I was twelve, my mother sent me to the local store to buy milk and bread. As I stood in line waiting, I noticed a boy, almost my age, and his younger sister digging through the huge pile of garbage nearby scavenging for food. Covered in mud and battered clothes, they didn’t seem to care about the filth, cows, pigs, or heat around them. It was then that I realized how fortunate I was. I felt guilty of the life I was living and thought how unfair it was that not everyone had equal opportunities for a good education and life. I did not understand how someone my own age, who should be in school and carrying a backpack, was spending his days looking for food in a dump. I was confused and did not know how to feel about it.
To this day, I believe that EVERY child, no matter where they come from, has a right to a good education. Teaching them to Read, Write, and about Science and Math, gives them the platform to change their society and right the wrongs. Education is not just about learning random facts, but gathering knowledge to become aware of our social and moral rights.
We all have heard of Malala Yousafzai and her courageous actions against the Taliban, as she stood up to fight for education and women’s rights in Afghanistan ((https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2014/yousafzai-bio.html). Recently I came across a few similar spectacular stories about children who decided to take charge and make a difference. The courage and determination they have shown is beyond measure. I share some of these stories below in the hope that it might inspire you as well –
In the 21st century and in a world with a population of 30 billion (and growing), it breaks my heart to know that there are still communities where children do not have access to schools, books, pencils or even paper. But it is stories like these which give hope that change is in your hands and the coming generation will consist of individuals who are instilled with qualities of courage, justice, love and hope.