I’m starting to learn that when it comes down to it, girls are girls, no matter where you are.
My name is Bailey Frost and I am a member of the class of 2012 at the Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, Tennessee, an independent girls’ school deeply committed to making education accessible to women and girls all over the world. We recently created a partnership with the Lwala Community Alliance, a non-profit organization helping the people of Lwala, Kenya through girls’ education initiatives.
Marculate Akinyi lives in Lwala, and she wants to be a highly educated woman. She cooks and cleans for five younger siblings, but always manages to finish the homework she is assigned. At the end of her 7th grade year, Marculate’s uniform was too small and torn for her to continue attending school, so she began to sell vegetables by the road to earn money to purchase a new uniform. Fortunately, she was able to get help from an organization called Got Your Back, and continue on to the 8th grade. Marculate plans to go to high school and university in order to become a lawyer. When asked why she wants to be a lawyer, she replied, “So I can judge people fairly and help them have better lives.” Her comments reveal not only a remarkable maturity and wisdom, but also the perseverance and courage that keep her from dropping out of school.
Marculate is a great example for young women all over the world. She, and girls just like her are making a difference in the Lwala community. However, their education risks being compromised by illness, lack of sanitary towels, chores, early marriage, and countless other obstacles. But despite all, she holds tight to her ambition.
Harpeth Hall students are trying to help by hosting two fundraisers raising more than $3,000 to fund mentoring programs and provide scholarships for girls to attend Lwala High School. I was fortunate to travel to Lwala this past January to distribute new school uniforms to 6th- 8th grade girls. On one particular day, I was assigned to interview a group of girls from Kadianga Primary School. As I sat on the grass, hands folded, trying to think of what to say, 15 girls stared back at me, watching my every move and waiting for me to speak. Interviewing the girls about their lives and hardships seemed so simple, but I didn’t realize they would end up shifting my views.
Looking around, I asked who would like to go first. All the girls were silent for a moment, but then simultaneously raised their arms to point at the girl sitting directly across from me. Another student nudged her and said, “She is the brave one.” “The Brave One” was Marculate.
As I said, I’ve learned that when it comes down to it, girls are girls, no matter where you are. Our ethnicities, cultures, and economic backgrounds don’t make us different from one another.
What makes one stand out from the rest is that some girls like Marculate are courageous enough to pursue their education and better their lives, even when they face great odds. We’re doing what we can to help, and I think you should too.