Education

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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.

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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In a country overwhelmed by refugee children, the schools had no room for her.

 

Hanan, age 8, lives in a Jordanian slum with her mother and four siblings.

They’re refugees from Syria’s brutal civil war, forced to leave their home after a bomb killed their father as he sold vegetables in the street, and debris from another blast injured one of their younger brothers.

I work for the Atlanta-headquartered humanitarian organization CARE. My job title is “Staff Writer” but, in reality, I’m as much of a finder as I am a writer. I find CARE program participants who want to talk about their experience with CARE, and connect these individuals with the people who support our work, or will support our work when they learn about what we do.

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One of hunger’s cruelest tricks is that it reinforces and replicates itself. Yanka says that when forced to choose between school for her children and food, she chose food. In that circumstance there is no good choice.

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In developed countries like the United States your earning potential is often based on the number of diplomas you have. But in rural Malawi, completing even a primary education is one of the most precious things anyone can achieve. For most girls there, getting even that single diploma is a rarity.

With a higher value placed on working in the fields, fetching water and helping take care of younger siblings, education lags behind for girls.

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