I just got a facelift (for my blog of course). This facelift makes me wander back, thinking about the first time I blogged in 2006. It’s hard to believe it was 8 years ago. So much in technology and social media have changed since then and a new look and feel was long overdue. There is so much more to say and so many amazing images to see and to post. With all of the changes in technology, so much in our world has not changed, which saddens me greatly.
The world I work in is still full of contradictions. We see our producers with a cell phone network that reaches the deserts of Kenya or India and the mountains of Afghanistan, but 10 year old girls are still being forced to marry much older men. I don’t even understand why we call it child marriage and not the real word, pedophilia, but that is a separate post. My company is making a huge difference in creating jobs in the villages we work in, and we are seeing our young girls growing up into beautiful teenagers.
However I must admit that each time I visit, I hold my breath and wonder who will be gone, given away as a first or even second wife to an older villager or even a cousin. I wonder: have we talked enough, trained enough, and empowered their voices enough for them to resist? I know a teenager’s best hope for resisting an early marriage is either staying in school or earning her own income. If they are working in the workshop there is power in numbers, and within that space they can continue with vocational training.
We know how staying in school is not always an option as schools are not always open in outlying villages. And, the forces that resist a girl’s education can make access to education quite unsafe. We know that well as we recently saw the girls in Nigeria taken out of a school house. This situation is so horrific. These parents, unlike so many in the world, did all of the right things– they kept a school going and had most of the village girls in school. These parents should have been commended, but instead their beautiful daughters were stolen. 273 educated Nigerian girls, gone. Today marks day 123 of their disappearance and we owe it to them not to forget.
My heart grieves for the parents of each one of those beautiful faces. I grieve for their innocence and everything else that the evil ones have stolen from them. Let us be reminded that when one of us is enslaved, no one is truly free. Together, let us make this a safer place for girls everywhere.