Then I thought, what about women in countries all over the world helping their communities? I decided I would write about one of them.
Last summer, I traveled to a village named Malakati in Fiji where I spent three weeks with local families, teaching at schools and working to develop solutions to help the village manage their drinking water.
The bures (Fijian word for wood-and-straw huts) the people live in are the size of an average bedroom, but accommodate families of at least five. My suitcase for three weeks contained more than the belongings of a family of five.
One of my first observations was that a small number of children from the village went to school because there was not enough room on the boat that took them there. Only a couple girls attend because by the time boys get on the boat, there is barely any space left.
It is rare for the girls to receive anything higher than an elementary school education.
While there, I met a young woman named Mary who is doing all she can to change that.
Every day, the girls of the village come over to her bure and she teaches them English, gives them math problems, and has them write in journals. She also has them play sports and participate as active members of their community.
Although Mary herself did not attend school past 9th grade, she has taught herself much of what she knows and reads every day.
I asked Mary what inspires her to do this, and her answer was clear and simple, “Because I want each girl to be someone I only dream of being.”
When asked what they want to be when they are older, most of the girls say they want to be flight attendants so that they can see the world they hear so much about. Mary believes in them and encourages them to be more than a caretaker for their younger siblings.
She told me about one of the girls she worked with who earned a scholarship to a high school on the main island of Fiji.
She going to study medicine because she wants to come back to Malakati and be a doctor the village so desperately needs.
Because this young girl was encouraged to attend school, she has now chosen to give back to her village and help saves lives.
I have learned that you do not have to be powerful, famous, or wealthy to make a difference in the world, you just have to be empowered to be the change of one girl.
Mary is proof that the Girl Effect is a worldwide movement.