The Girl Effect One Spoon at a Time

1.  A Girl

Anita grew up in India’s caste system, poor and with limited options. So it seemed. Her parents wanted her to do what any “respectable” girl should do: Get married. Serve her man. The unspoken assumption: Perpetuate her family’s poverty.

Anita saw another way. Maybe she spoke with a girl from Bombay who had her own business. Maybe she read a book about opportunities. Maybe she saw on one of the few televisions in the village a program that showed a girl embracing life.

Regardless, Anita had an idea: Go to college. Get more from life. Offer more to her loved ones. No girl in her caste had ever been to college. Her parents balked. Hungry for more, she went on a hunger strike. They complied. She worked her way through college and today she has her own business. She repairs her parents’ home and pays their medical bills.

Now she has choices.

Now she feels power kindle inside.

Now she has freedoms she can pass on.

Now other girls in her village want to go to college.

Now she’s part of The Girl Effect.

2.  A Prison
Maybe you were the first person in your family to attend college. Maybe you faced great odds to be where you are today.

But imagine you’re a girl, and no girl in your high school and no girl in your town had ever been to college. Imagine several hundred million girls in your country are expected to or forced to get married by 14 or 15 or 16 or are forced into prostitution and likely will contract AIDS within the next ten years.

Well, guess what? That’s the situation around the globe and right at home. Girls’ prisons of cultural limitations exist in India and Bangladesh and China. And on some level they exist in England and Mexico and the United States.

Those prisons are built by

  • parents’ expectations and impositions
  • teachers’ expectations and assumptions
  • friends’ influence
  • limited access to alternative ideas
  • discouragement from thinking and imagining
  • an imagination and spirit impoverished by the above

There are at least a hundred ways to break out. And The Girl Effect offers options.

3. Another Girl & a Spoon
At dinner, my two-year-old daughter often looks at my plate of home cooked nut loaf or pilaf and greens and at my wife’s plate, too, to be sure we’re eating enough. Sometimes, she scoops food onto her plastic spoon and holds it up to my mouth and says, “Here, Papa.”  And then she does the same for Mama.

After dinner each evening, she walks over to the music box placed in her play corner, puts in a CD of Jai Uttal’s music, and dances.

She is squeals and giggles and hugs. She has sunshine for hair and blue skies for eyes and salves for hands.

I write this for her and not just for the freedoms she has but also for the freedoms she will create and pass on for others.

I write this for the 39-year-old woman in a small upstate New York town – who, at 18, insisted she travel to India on her own and after working with a man who operated a clinic that served dozens of people a day – returned home with a dream to help heal the poor.

I write this for the 52-year-old woman in Texas who, while reading Tara Sophia Mohr’s blog and with little money in the bank and no sure plan, left her deadbeat, heartless husband.  I write this not only for her freedoms but for the freedoms she will create and pass on for others.

I write this for the girl I will never meet in a village whose name I will never know raised in a way hard for me to fathom who will take a spoon and dig her way out and so make a path for other girls to follow.

I write this for any girl or boy hungry for more and who needs to know there is more to this world than the walls imposed around and within.

Ideas spread. When they include good decisions, smart actions and skills, and compassionate support, ideas change lives.

And The Girl Effect is all of that.

4. Your Spoon
Words are spoons. Spread the word. Write your own.

Pick up a spoon and help dig a hole through a wall.

Pick up a spoon and feed someone else.

And then feed yourself.

Become part of The Girl Effect and part of Tara Mohr’s Girl Effect Blogging Campaign.

Let me know if you post.

See you in the woods,
Jeffrey