Education

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Water is essential to life. And yet it could have kept Susan out of school for good.

 

“I remember feeling sick often. Stomach pains and diarrhea made it quite difficult to concentrate in class. [I]n one instance, I was so sick that my parents had to take me to the hospital,” says Susan, age 14.

Illness not only made her miss class, but put a financial strain on her family when they had to pay hospital fees.

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She was a top student. Now, violence and bullying keep her from school.

 

Raghad, age 11, should be in 5th grade, but hasn’t been to school in two-and-a-half years because she and her family have had to move so many times during the Syrian conflict.

A refugee in Jordan now, Raghad’s face lights up and her words come quick when she talks about her old life in Syria. What it was like to walk home from school with friends and gossip about their teachers, do homework and chores after school, and then play with her cousins, who lived nearby.

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This ‘Disposable’ Girl Became The Most Educated Person in Her Village.

 

Seen as disposable in their own homes, the destiny of girls in poor rural villages like Schti in northern India is to marry early and move out to live with another family, continuing the cycle of girls’ illiteracy — and poverty — for the next generation.

“My brothers had gone to school, but I thought I’d never experience it,” Pinki recalls. “It was out of the question.”

This ‘burden’ said no to child marriage, and demanded an education instead.

 

It was all arranged, even the dowry.

After she completed her primary education, Lutfa, now 17, had to drop out of school to help her family with the housework. And yet, they still saw her as a burden -- just another mouth to feed, a girl who couldn’t bring value to the family.

“I was broken inside, as my dream to educate myself remained unfulfilled, and on top of that, I started to doubt my abilities to change my life.”

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They expected her to stay home until she got married. She chose school instead.

 

As the oldest daughter of a poor family in a rural Indian farming community, Laxmi, age 12, was destined to do housework, watch after her four younger siblings and marry at age 14.

But she knew she was worth more than that.

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She just became the most educated person in her family.

 

Orphaned at age 13, Jenifer was raised by her aunts, whom she affectionately calls her “other mothers.” They’re subsistence farmers who live in a tiny mud-brick home with Jenifer and her sister.  

But Jenifer, now 19, just passed her university entrance exams, one of 1,909 students selected from 11,539 applicants. University is expensive, but this smart and resourceful student is hopeful that she’ll find a way to pay the $800 annual tuition.

For a girl with untapped potential, child marriage could end her life before it starts.

 

Angie is 13 and lives in a one-bedroom house with her family in Honduras.

Her mother works long hours as the family’s sole breadwinner. Her father, her mother’s third of four husbands, was murdered. Her step-sisters got pregnant at a young age and they and their children live with Angie and her mother. Angie is in charge of all the cooking and cleaning.

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