The World’s Best Invesment
I’ve been all over the world to work with groups doing everything from getting girls out of brothels to repatriating refugees; from getting young men out of gangs to serving imprisoned women; from building slum houses to advocating for land rights to feeding the homeless.
Having witnessed all of that and more, I strongly believe that the best investment you can make to serve the poor and fight injustice is to educate and empower girls in poverty. Various mistreatments of girls in poverty — child marriage, sexual exploitation, discrimination, denial of food and education, and a thousand other indignities — lie at the root of many of our global problems. When a large portion of the world treats half of its people as burdens or sex objects, a thousand social ills result.
But when we empower girls in poverty, miracles happen. Families begin seeing their daughters as valuable. Girls begin to believe in their dreams and their future. Young men begin to treat girls differently. And wise old men and women see what they have long desired for their communities, but perhaps been unable to articulate, come true: families are happier, girls are safer, incomes are higher, boys are nobler, and a million untold dreams are finally able to be realized. It should be no surprise that when we unshackle half the population from the chains of injustice that everything suddenly seems new and possible again. Somehow, empowering girls in poverty changes everything, for boys and girls and families alike.
That is why I work for Speak Up, because I have witnessed the terrible exploitation of girls in brothels and child marriages and sweatshops. And because I have seen the beauty of girls unleashed from these chains, seen entire communities begin to be transformed by the simplest of actions: treating their daughters well.
There is nothing I would rather have my friends here do than seriously consider supporting one or more of the girls in Speak Up’s Girls Education Program. It’s $30 a month. I oversee our project here in Bangladesh, and can assure you that we carefully invest every dollar we receive to catalyze change for well over 1100 girls, a number that will grow significantly again in 2017.
Empowering my young friends here in Bangladesh — and one day in many other countries — is the best long-term investment I can make with my life. It will one day result in thousands and thousands of girls, previously destined for poverty and exploitation, becoming educated young women who serve others just like them. And it’s one of the best investments you can make with your money as well.
Sometimes it feels like I’m sitting on a time-bomb here in Bangladesh, either for bad or for good. For bad when I realize that many hundreds of girls I know will be forced into child marriage or worse if we cannot raise the funds to help them, an explosion of frustration among girls who are so close to rising out of poverty. For good when I realize that if we can pull this off, the ripple effect on Bangladesh could be incredible as thousands of villages could see new potential in their sisters and daughters. We could change a hundred-thousand lives. Or many more. Those numbers aren’t idle boasting or careless exaggeration; I’m watching the roots of this miracle take place day by day.
Many other problems — commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, spousal abuse, maternal mortality, gender discrimination, infant mortality, and more — can be avoided if we invest in girls in poverty. Of course I’m biased because this is the program I helped to start and these thousands of girls are my friends. But educating and empowering girls in poverty is not important to me because I work for the Girls Education Program. I work for the Girls Education Program because empowering girls in poverty is the way to change the world.
I’m biased because I know that it works; and I want you to join us.
If you like what we are doing here in Bangladesh to serve girls in poverty, please take 10 minutes to go through the stories and pictures on our Facebook site linked below and seriously consider sponsoring one of the girls in our GEP. Nothing would mean more to me, and I believe that nothing you could do with a relatively modest investment could be more significant in changing the world.