The Girl Effect…

I am not really one for these kind of posts, but last night I heard about “The Girl Effect” while reading Twitter and I learned about the campaign by Tara Mohr. It seems fairly simple. Bloggers get together and campaign to get the word of The Girl Effect out there, by posting on the topic and talking about the videos.

“THERE IS SOMETHING POWERFUL YOU CAN DO. JOIN THE GIRL EFFECT BLOGGING CAMPAIGN AND WRITE ABOUT THE GIRL EFFECT ON OCTOBER 4TH, AT YOUR BLOG.

The Girl Effect Blogging Campaign is not affiliated with any organization – it’s a grassroots effort of individual bloggers.
The Girl Effect is the radical, hopeful idea that the most effective solution to global poverty is investing in the education and safety of girls in the developing world. Why? Because educated girls, research shows, grow up to be women who pull their entire families – and often entire villages – out of poverty.”

I am having a problem embedding video from Youtube on my blog here, so if you do not see the video above, please click on the link. I have no idea what I am doing wrong-enlighten me if you do! Anyway, the plight of young women in other countries is fairly obvious if you travel even a little bit to the third world. I think I was first really smacked in the face with this issue in Cambodia, when we met Gia, a hilarious little girl selling books on the streets of Pnomh Penh. You can read about her story, written by my husband, here.

Then when we went to India, we met many young girls on the street, but it was the girls in Goa that I remember the most, who travelled from Karnataka to sell jewelery on the beach for money they didn’t get to keep. When I tried to give them money, not for jewelery but for a bed or some food, (they sleep under a tree outside at night), they told me they couldn’t accept it because they get searched when they get home, and anything extra would be taken from them, and they would get beaten for hiding it.

The video above really spoke to me because quite a while ago, I learned about microlending and Kiva. Here was something I could do, as a lone individual that I could actually afford. I have, unfortunately, always been a person of limited means, although that is a relative term, particularly given this topic, but I have never had very much money to give out. Kiva offers microloans, financed by you, at a minimum of $25. You can choose from Kiva’s list, who you would like to donate your money to, and you can choose to have the money you donate paid back to you, in monthly increments, or to forgive the loan entirely. If you choose to have the money paid back to you, you can reinvest it in another person or family.

My first Kiva loan was to a group of women in Pakistan who, much like the girl in the video above, wanted to buy another buffalo for a dairy business. Now this loan is 63% repaid and I will be fully repaid by March of next year.

In honour of the girl effect, I will be making another Kiva loan today. I’ll be posting later to let you know who I chose to give my money to. Since I already have almost $16 in my Kiva account, repaid to me by the Pakistani group of women, it’s a small contribution to make in order to meet that $25 minimum. I think the point is, that no matter our means, no matter how limited or ineffectual we feel, we can all donate something, whether it’s time in our own neighbourhood or abroad, money, or just hearing someone talk about their story. Thank you to The Girl Effect and to Tara Mohr for reminding me that the next journey I am about to take puts me in a position of insane privilege but also gives me the ability to learn more about the people around me while I am travelling. I am to interact with them more, and learn as much as I can about them while I am out there. As tourists we are often disconnected from the worlds we descend upon. We show up, we sit in the restaurants, hang out on the beaches and get annoyed when they try to sell us stuff. The Girl Effect reminds us that these are “real people” out there. They have goals, and desires and want for something better, just like me. If you think this sounds super cheesy and lame, investigate your own reasons for putting up that wall. It’s hard to think about, especially if you don’t do anything about it. I have a long way to go, myself. Thanks for reading!