Laxmi Pal, 12 years old (at the time of this photo), sits on her bed in the Udaan Girls School in Hardoi, India. She was a featured girl in CARE’s “International Day of the Girl” art exhibition in Atlanta, GA.
The Udaan Girls School provides girls with a core curriculum in language, math, and environmental science subjects. Udaan teachers also interweave activities such as morning assembly, sports (volleyball, soccer), bicycle riding and computer usage. Photo by Josh Estey.
It’s back to school season, and while 50.1 million children across the United States will be heading back to school this fall, there are some children who won’t have that chance — specifically girls.
Globally, 31 million primary school aged girls won’t have the opportunity to go to school according to research provided to us by CARE.org. Girls, often from poorer countries, face daunting barriers including the high price of school uniforms, gender discrimination, distance, language barriers, hunger, war, and child marriage. It’s been found that one-third of girls from the developing world are married before the age of 18. To help more girls who are hungry to learn, CARE.org is asking for your help.
The overall issue may seem overwhelming for just one person but collectively we can make the education dreams for girls across the globe a reality. CARE is a global humanitarian organization that fights poverty by empowering girls and women, and they want you to know that as little as $10 can make a difference.
Something as major as school uniforms for two girls is only $38, while three bookbags is simply $30. Find out how you can get involved and help by visiting the #HungryToLearn website and selecting a gift that invests in a girl’s future.
Who will you be helping? Girls like Laxmi Pal (pictured above) who attended the Udaan Girls School in Harodi, India. As the eldest of five children, she had the responsibility of caring for her siblings and helping around the house. Girls from her local farming village often do this until they’re married off at around age 14. But lucky for Pal, her circumstances allowed her to break that tradition and ultimately become the first in her family to ever go to school.
“If I didn’t go to Udaan I would have been cleaning houses with my mom and soon married off,” she says. “Being here has allowed me to dream about my future for the first time.”
The CARE-supported school is located 15 miles from her village and each year typically welcomes a class of 100 girls aged 11-14 who complete an accelerated program that allows them to graduate at a fifth grade level in 11 months.
Women earn 10-20 percent more for every year of school completed and children of educated mothers are twice as likely to go to school. Pal’s family knows this and supports her pursuit of education.
What started out as a tragedy for Laxmi Pal and her family, after a wall caused her home to collapse, trapping her under a wall and rendering her unconscious turned out to be a blessing in disguise. After that incident, Pal’s family relocated and she is now under the care of her uncle Raj Rumar who enrolled her in school.
In an interview with CARE.org, her uncle shared his thoughts on the importance of educating girls.
“If girls are in school, they only study until they marry. No one here wants to marry an uneducated girl,” he says. “But in my family we want girls to get good jobs [instead of staying at home]. I’ll make sure Laxmi stays in school and waits to marry.”
Watch Laximi Pal’s incredible story below: