How One Day of Rain Can Change Everything

There are some places in this world that are difficult places to live. The desert of Northern Somalia (Somaliland) is one of those places. The only thing interrupting the endless view of sand, rocks, and tumbleweeds is an occasional range of low mountains along the horizon. In the middle of the desert, clusters of homes comprise tiny villages. Once a week, the women from these towns walk for an entire day to the hills to get water—the only source of clean water for miles.

“It is so far,” explained Shamse, a young mom who lives here in the desert. “I walk from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and still only return with a few jerry cans – whatever I can manage to carry.”

Moms in Somalia must walk long distances through the desert to collect water.

Moms in Somalia must walk long distances through the desert to collect water.

The water she manages to bring home last only a few days. When the jerry cans run out, Shamse and her children are forced to drink salty, contaminated water from a nearby hole in the ground. “It makes us sick,” she said.

Many children in this community have died from diarrhea and other water-borne diseases. “As a mother, I feel so sad,” she said. “But there is no doctor here when the children get sick.”

Shamse’s conflict depicts the life-or-death dilemma that many others in the community face every day. The nearest access to clean water is a long and arduous day’s journey away, but local water sources are contaminated and unsuitable for human consumption. It’s a threat that fills Shamse with dread and exhausts her even before she rises from her sleeping mat.

But there is a solution, and it starts with a gift from above — rainwater.

In this region, it rains as little as two or three days a year. But when it does, it rains hard—often causing flooding, as the dry desert ground cannot absorb so much water all at once. Check out this video clip of a flash flood in Somaliland.

We help communities build large underground water storage tanks called berkads. These berkads collect, channel, and filter torrents of rainwater, capturing it for use between rains. The result of just one day of rain: enough clean, fresh drinking water for an entire community for months. In fact, one berkad can hold up to 80,000 gallons of water – that’s enough water not just for drinking, but also for growing crops and keeping livestock healthy and alive.

Berkads like this one channel and filter rainwater, storing it for months of use.

Women draw water from a berkad.

Women draw water from a berkad.

With berkads, moms like Shamse have access to clean drinking water that is safe for their children and close to home. Some women are even able to earn income from selling the water if a berkad is built near their home.

Along with this life-saving source of  water, we provide hygiene training and improved sanitation (latrines and toilets), leading to better health for families in need.

You can help mothers provide clean water to their children.

You can help mothers provide clean water to their children.

We’ve seen this system work in other communities in the region, but there are many more families waiting for clean water. You can be a part of this and help needy communities build berkads and other sources of water — bringing help and hope to Shamse and others.

Providing clean water for families is the first step to move beyond barely surviving, and toward lasting change. Your gift saves lives and transforms communities long-term. In addition, your year-end gift by Dec. 31 will be matched, dollar for dollar, providing clean, life-saving water to twice as many children and families.

IDPs arrive at a camp in Warrap State, South Sudan, in February 2014.

One Year Later, South Sudan Remains in Turmoil

In December 2013, the world’s newest nation, only two years into a season without war, plunged back into crisis-mode. Though the explanation for this eruption of conflict is far from definitive, one thing is clear – South Sudan is still hurting.

As we approach the one year anniversary of this newest conflict in South Sudan – a land that has suffered almost continuous war for over two decades – we (the world) need to remember that this war persists and tensions are only growing. And, as we so strongly believe at World Concern, we remind ourselves that war is about so much more than politics and land and resources. It is about the thousands, if not millions, of people whose lives are torn apart.

According to the UNHCR, South Sudan now has more than 1.4 million internally displaced people who have been forced to flee their homes. Additionally, tens of thousands of people (at this point an exact number is difficult to track) have lost their lives.

Though there has always been community tension and a scarcity of resources, we have never ceased to see the country for its potential to transform. When South Sudan gained independence in 2011, we celebrated with them. Unfortunately, the celebration was short-lived. South Sudan has faced immense challenges over the past three years. The recent conflict is bringing the nation to the brink of famine and starvation continues to be a very real risk.

Since the country’s independence, World Concern has focused on empowering South Sudanese communities to move beyond a state of relief and toward long-term development. Eager to farm their own land, feed their own children, and be educated, people have been more than willing to take part in their community’s development. In fact, many of the communities we partner with now have their own gardens, banks, savings groups, job opportunities, and thriving markets.

But many others were displaced from their homes and land when violence came dangerously close to their communities. As a result, hundreds of thousands were unable to plant crops before South Sudan’s annual rainy season. Because of this, many will go hungry this year. And too many are still homeless, living in squalid camps, waiting for peace.

Mary (right) and her newborn son sit inside a vacated school they now call home.

Last February I traveled to South Sudan to visit Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps, sit with people, and listen to their stories. Among the many painful narratives shared, I will never forget Mary YarTur’s. Nine months pregnant when violence broke out in her village, Mary had no choice but to run.

“Both of my neighbors were killed when we were running,” she solemnly explained. “My uncle was also killed.”

After days on the run, Mary and others settled outside of a closed school building. Two days later, she went into labor.

Women sit outside of the school where Mary gave birth.

Women sit outside of the school where Mary gave birth.

“At the time I delivered I was feeling bad. My body was in pain and it was not well,” she shared. “During the time I came from my home in Unity State, I was running with little food. Then I delivered right away when I arrived here.”

In the three days I spent visiting camps, Mary was one of five women I met with newborn babies – a small representation of the thousands of children that have already been born without medical assistance beneath trees, outside of buildings, and underneath haphazard shelters.

A silhouetted pregnant woman rests at an IDP site.

A silhouetted pregnant woman rests at an IDP site.

“My child was delivered outside, now they have problems,” Mary told me. “I’m not feeling better now. The food we have to eat takes a very long time to cook – and when I eat it it gives me stomach pains. So, I don’t eat much – I feel weak and faint. I live in fear because I don’t know where my husband is and I sleep in the open, many days without food and no income.”

Sick, taking care of a newborn, husband-less, without food, homeless – it’s no wonder so many people feel hopeless.

A Bleak Future Without Development

Because of the recent crisis, funding for development projects has reduced. Life-saving disaster response efforts are vital, but without the ability to fund long-term projects, the country’s development comes to a halt.

Hundreds of thousands of displaced families have fled northern South Sudan to Warrap State, where we work. With no choice but to build makeshift shelters on land that was once someone else’s farms, their presence is a cause for tension and puts a strain on local resources.

The majority of the people we serve know at least one person who has been killed. Thus, a large portion of a family’s resources and time have been spent on hosting and traveling to burial services.

Additionally, the South Sudanese pound continues to lose value against the American dollar, skyrocketing import costs and consequently making many resources unbearably expensive.

“Foreign exchange is low. Prices of commodities are rising every day. Many markets are in short supply of essential commodities,” said a World Concern staff member in Warrap State. “The chamber of commerce has attributed this to lack of dollar in the market. Given that he country heavily relies on import of food, fuel, and almost all essential commodities, shortage of dollar in the market spells doom for ordinary citizens of the country.”

Much of South Sudan’s younger generation was born into war, thus all they know is war. When asked, many say they would love to live in a world without war, yet most of them have no idea what that would look like. Because of this, instilling the notion of hope and the possibility of change can be a very complex process.

We believe that we have been called to South Sudan for a reason. And we believe that reconciliation, peace, and healing are possible. We know that the One who created us all, can surely bring hope and peace to the seemingly hopeless circumstances in South Sudan. And despite the horrible things we, as humans, do, He is still holding out for us, waiting patiently and moving us toward a world renewed.

So today, this morning, this evening, whenever you read this, though you may feel bombarded by a world of painful things, we ask that you remember South Sudan and pray for peace.

And please continue to pray for South Sudan’s leaders – that they would lead with integrity. South Sudan was recently ranked the 5th most corrupt nation in the world. Also, pray for safety, healthy, and strength for our field staff – they are the hands and feet of world Concern.

Please consider giving a gift to bring hope and life to the people of South Sudan.

In the midst of pain, in the depths of suffering, under the tarps of IDP camps and tin roofs of refugee shelters, we know that there exists a surpassing peace and hope for a world transformed.

 

What do you get a dying person for Christmas?

Every year, Reneé Smith’s family draws names for their Christmas gift exchange. It just so happened that in 2012, it was Reneé’s turn to buy a gift for her sister-in-law Patti.

Patti was battling a recurrence of breast cancer that had spread to her bones and liver. Christmas would be different for everyone that year.

“The news was devastating for all of us,” recalled Reneé.

Patti’s loving and generous spirit was evident in her family relationships. She was a wonderful mom and aunt to her nieces and nephews, and a former preschool teacher who loved children. But she was also an introvert—a quiet person who struggled to come to terms with the fact she was dying.

“She was terrified of dying and leaving her kids and her husband,” said Reneé.

Reneé Smith (right) and her mom, Rosalie Miller (left) surrounded Patti with love and support during chemotherapy treatments.

Reneé Smith (right) and her mom, Rosalie Miller (left) surrounded Patti with love and support during chemotherapy treatments.

Reneé felt led to help Patti, but their personalities where so different, and she felt unsure of how best to help. She started by just showing up. They lived three hours apart, but Reneé made the trek to Ridgefield, Wash., from her home in Gig Harbor every other weekend to help take care of Patti.

Over time, Reneé’s calling became clearer through three words she constantly felt impressed on her heart: “Love her extravagantly.” With each chemo visit, the bond between the sisters-in-law grew. Eventually, Patti allowed Reneé to bathe her and care for her in intimate ways.

Reneé started a Facebook page called “Pray for Patti Peace” (Patti’s last name is Peace) where friends and loved ones could stay updated on Patti’s condition. The group had about 100 members who posted regular messages for Patti. It became a great source of encouragement during the dark days of cancer treatment.

As Christmas drew near, Reneé often thought about Patti’s gift. “What do you get a dying person for Christmas?” she wondered.

One day, they were out shopping, surrounded by Christmas displays. They stopped at a table stacked with toys and Patti said to Reneé, “I don’t want any presents this year. I’d rather just help kids.”

That moment, Reneé had an idea. Rather than trying to find a gift that Patti wouldn’t be able to use, Reneé decided to fulfill her sister-in-law’s wish to help children.

World Concern’s Global Gift Guide had arrived in the mail and Reneé scoured it for ideas. “I got so excited. I was seeing all these gifts to help children get an education and animals to help them earn income and feed themselves. I knew this would bless Patti’s heart,” she said.

Reneé and her husband had a set budget for gifts. “Then I thought, wouldn’t it be neat if I had a whole lot more money? What if Patti could help a whole village? It dawned on me that she had all these Facebook followers on her page,” said Reneé.

Not wanting to spoil the surprise by posting on the page, Reneé emailed everyone she had addresses for and asked if they wanted to participate. Within a few days, Reneé had received almost $500 for Patti’s gift.

“It was just amazing to me. Even people who didn’t know Patti, had not ever met her, wanted to show love to her in this way and let them know they cared,” said Reneé. “I’m a church secretary and people would walk in the door and say, ‘Here’s $20 for Patti’s animals,’ or message me saying, ‘I’m mailing in a check.’”

Reneé was able to give 40 chickens, 24 ducks, two goats, and two pigs (all with vaccinations, feed, and supplies) in Patti’s name to help children living in places like rural Kenya, Myanmar, and Haiti.

She could hardly wait for Christmas. Reneé bought stuffed animals to symbolize each gift, and put a tag on each one with a note describing the impact of her gift, “In the name of Patti Peace, a child will receive ducklings, which will provide income and nutrition for years to come.”

Patti on Christmas morning, 2012, with stuffed animals that symbolized the gifts given in her name to transform the lives of children around the world.

Patti on Christmas morning, 2012, with stuffed animals that symbolized the gifts given in her name to transform the lives of children around the world.

On Christmas morning, Patti opened each gift and read each tag aloud.

Reneé will never forget Patti’s joy-filled response. “She looked up at me with tears rolling down her face and mouthed the words, ‘thank you.’”

“It felt like the best gift anyone could give her,” said Reneé.

Patti passed away in February, but Reneé and the entire family are comforted by the fact her memory will live on through the life-changing gifts given in her honor to children in need.

The Christmas season is upon us again, and like Patti’s gifts, yours can also have a memorable and lasting impact on children in need. You can look through the Global Gift Guide to find ways to change lives this Christmas and bring joy to your own.

How Little Meo Survived Her First Year

When Meo was born, she was tiny and frail. And it wasn’t long before the newborn started getting sick with fevers and colds. Her mom, Lak, was terrified her baby would not survive her first year. She had watched so many children in her village die from sickness and malnourishment.

In this part of rural Laos, where Lak lives, one child in three is underweight and stunted. And many children do not survive until their fifth birthday. For generations, her family and others have struggled—not having enough food, no clean water, no doctor nearby if a child gets sick.

Just look at those plump little fingers and toes! You can help little ones like Meo survive their first year and beyond.

Just look at those plump little fingers and toes! You can help little ones like Meo survive their first year and beyond.

But when little Meo was 7 months old, hope and practical help came to her village. Her mom, Lak, joined a program where moms of babies and toddlers learn to keep their children healthy by practicing good hygiene and preparing nutritious, locally-accessible food. No delivery truck of food—just moms working together and sharing knowledge about how to care for and nurture their children. The change is dramatic.

Lak put everything she learned into practice, and within 12 days, she saw a dramatic improvement in Meo’s health. She started gaining weight right away, and has not been sick since. This chubby little one is well on her way to surviving her first year, and staying healthy throughout her childhood.

Here’s how the program works: In almost every village where we work there is at least one mom whose kids are healthy. Knowing that moms learn best from each other, this mom becomes the village trainer, teaching others what she’s done to help her children thrive.

Through this vital training, Lak and other moms learn practical tools, like incorporating nutritious vegetables into their child’s diet, and using every drop of the vitamin-rich water their rice is prepared in. They learn the importance of good hygiene and how to keep their children clean in order to prevent the spread of disease and sickness.

Lak was relieved and excited to learn how to improve her daughter’s health. “I’m thankful for this knowledge … simple steps we didn’t know before,” said a proud and happy Lak.

Your gift to help hungry families provides much more than food for today—you help ensure moms like Lak have the tools and resources so their children develop properly and grow healthy. That’s lasting change!

With your help, moms in rural Laos and elsewhere are able to feed their children plenty of nutritious, healthy food.

With your help, moms in rural Laos and elsewhere are able to feed their children plenty of nutritious, healthy food.

A Goat is a Treasured Asset for Fania

Have you seen the 2014 Global Gift Guide yet?  One of the more popular items are goats and for good reason.  Read about a young girl in Haiti named Fania to find out why the gift of a goat means she’ll get to stay in school.

In the rural community of Mersan in southern Haiti there is a primary school called Ecole Mixte Bon Berger.  Since 2012 World Concern has partnered with this school by providing goats and husbandry training to students.  With a goat students are able to earn an income by selling the goat’s offspring and using the money to pay for school tuition and other supplies.

One of these students in Mersan is named Fania Bien-Aime, a shy 14-year-old girl who has a smile that is hard to forget.  She lives a 15 minute walk from the school with her parents and six siblings.  “I always walk to school.  In the beginning it was difficult but now it is easy.”

Fania with her goat

Fania recently received a goat from World Concern and participated in the training where she learned how to take care of her goat and how to maintain its health.

“I know how to take care of the goat because I learned some things in the training,” she said.  “When it’s raining I have to shelter the goat but usually during the day it sits in the shade because the sun is too hot.”

Now her goat is in heat and Fania expects it to become pregnant shortly.  When working with communities, the ‘long view’ must be taken into consideration.  There may be solutions that would provide temporary assistance to Fania, however this lacks sustainability and requires a handout to be given repeatedly.  World Concern is interested instead in long term solutions.

A goat is a treasured asset in rural Haiti because it represents a steady income.  “Each year a goat can give between six and nine kids, and she may produce kids for up to 10 years,” explains Pierre Duclona, World Concern’s regional coordinator for southern Haiti.

While a goat and relevant training may not produce immediate results, it will provide students like Fania with a way to earn an income for years to come and give her new skills which she can carry into adulthood.

Fania will soon begin the 6th grade and is looking forward to returning to class after the summer break.

Fania and her friend

“The sciences and mathematics are the ones I like.  I like to study,” she shared.  “Education is important so I can help my parents and also for myself to feel good and help in society.”

“I would like to be a tailor but I can’t sew right now.  For now this is the profession that is in my head,” explained Fania.  “You can get money from this skill because when school begins, parents need to send their children’s uniforms to get sewed.”

Fania’s goat receives vaccines

With a goat and specific training, Fania is well-positioned to earn an income and therefore continue with her education which will give her opportunities to provide for herself and her family.  It is because of your generosity and partnership that we’re able to help keep girls like Fania in school!  Give the gift of a goat today.

 

Sheep, and bees, and water filters—oh my! What’s new in this year’s Global Gift Guide

Brand new gifts in this year’s Global Gift Guide are creating quite a “buzz” of excitement! Maybe because Bees for Honey are among the new gifts! Here’s the list of all five new gifts:

  1. This year, for the first time, you can give the gift of a beehive a struggling family and beekeeping training to produce plentiful, sweet honey—and a sustainable livelihood. Now that’s a sweet opportunity! Price: $100

    Bee-Hives

  2. Introducing… Sheep! Superior sheep, to be exact. What makes these sheep superior? They’re Dorper sheep—a bigger, better breed that are superior in size and milk production, which means your gift will provide higher incomes for families in need. Plus, they’re pretty cute, aren’t they?! Price: $120

    Superior Sheep

  3. Also new this year— the gift of a water filter—a low-cost way to provide clean water to a family in Laos. These highly effective internal ceramic filters reduces bacteria in drinking water by up to 99%, plus remove germs and parasites that make people sick. And how cool is this? The filters are made in a village near our projects, so your gift supports the local economy, too! Price: $49

    Water Filter
  4. Want to do something really amazing this year? You can change the future of hundreds of children by giving them a place to learn with a new classroom. For years to come, thousands of children will benefit from this incredible gift. Can’t swing it alone? Pool resources with a group of friends, coworkers, or family members and make this Christmas one they’ll never forget. Price: $8,600

    Village Classrom
  5. Christmas is all about kids, right? This year, you can show an orphan that she is loved by supporting her for 3 months or more. It’s heartbreaking to think about, but many children have lost one or both parents to war, disease, or other circumstances, and are being cared for by a neighbor or friend. Your gift will be a lifeline to a precious orphan. Price: $245

    Protect an Orphan

Check out the entire Global Gift Guide online to see these and more than 40 other gifts that change lives!

Resilience For Life: Ages 0-100+

When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in the United States in 2005, three-quarters of the people it killed were over 60.  This is unfortunately not an isolated incident.  Often, older people are the ones most affected by a disaster event.

Today, on the International Day for Disaster Reduction, the international community is coming together to recognize the critical role older people play in building more resilient communities by sharing their experience and knowledge.

At World Concern, we’re joining in this call to include older people in planning and preparedness activities while recognizing the value they bring to their families and communities.

We’re currently working with older people and their communities in eight countries to help reduce risk and save lives.  What does this look like?

Building more secure homes to protect families.

Shelter beneficiary Rozario

Photo credit: Medair

women with house

Photo credit: Medair

Improving sanitation through the construction of latrines to prevent the spread of water borne disease.

man with latrine1

Teaching communities about soil retention and reforestation to protect the land.

man in field1

Developing early warning systems and evacuation plans that include people of all ages.

wc sign in bangladesh

women in bangladesh

Strengthening infrastructure like flood water canals to keep water away from homes and people safe.

 

canal1

mother and daughter1

“The older person is often invisible in our communities until they show up in the mortality figures after a disaster event,” said head of the United Nations Disaster Reduction Office, Margareta Wahlström.

By working together towards the common goal of focusing on inclusiveness of people of all ages in disaster preparedness, we can ensure that no one is invisible and that everyone becomes resilient for life!

 

Mitu washing dishes

Mitu is now free to learn

Some stories are more dramatic than others. Some stories deserve to be heard. Mitu’s story is one of those stories.

Thankfully, Mitu’s story caught the attention of a perceptive staff member in Bangladesh who knew something must be done to free the little girl who was living in slavery in a neighbor’s home. Our Asia communication liaison, Taylor, first brought us this story on her blog.

On this International Day of the Girl Child, we wanted Mitu’s story to be heard again.

At 5 years old, most little girls are going to school for the first time, making new friends, and learning to ride a bike. But this was not the case for young Mitu. Instead, by age 5, Mitu was scrubbing floors, cooking, washing clothes, and suffering from physical abuse with even the slightest misstep in her duties.

Mitu washing dishes

Instead of going to school and experiencing childhood, Mitu was cooking for and cleaning up after another family from the time she was 5 years old.

Scared, alone, and separated from her family, Mitu was forced to grow up overnight in order to care for another family’s children and housework when her own family was unable to care for her.

The nightmare began for Mitu when her parents divorced several years ago. Mitu’s mother sought work in the bleak conditions of Bangladesh’s garment factories, while her father struggled to get by. With neither parent able to support their young daughter, Mitu was left in the care of her elderly grandmother. Out of sheer desperation, Mitu’s helpless grandmother decided to send Mitu to work as a maidservant at a neighbor’s house. There, Mitu endured three years of bondage as a child laborer, receiving nothing but food to survive and suffering frequent physical abuse by her masters.

Mitu (right) is now in school, where she belongs, and spending time with her friends.

Mitu is now in school, where she belongs, and spending time with her friends.

Thankfully, during a visit to Mitu’s hometown, a wise and perceptive World Concern staff member caught wind of Mitu’s horrible situation. Heartbroken and determined to rescue the little girl, she took the right steps to save young Mitu from her life of slavery, alerting a senior staff member who contacted Mitu’s father.

Mitu, now 8 years old, in front of her school.

Mitu, now 8 years old, in front of her school.

Today, Mitu is back under the care and support of her father, who, with World Concern’s counsel and support, now recognizes the importance of allowing his precious daughter to go to school and experience childhood to the fullest.

Mitu is now in school, making friends, and learning. Most importantly, she’s free.

Forgotten by most, but not by God

Some of the precious children I met in Sri Lanka.

Some of the precious children I met in Sri Lanka.

Greetings from Sri Lanka! I’ve spent the past week and a half seeing our projects, meeting our dairy farmers, and spending lots of time with our Children’s Clubs – a safe haven for children at risk of trafficking.

I have two stories that really stand out to me that I want to share with you in the hopes that they will touch your hearts and encourage you today. You make this possible and are just as relevant in these stories as our staff on the ground.

We met with a family from the “untouchable” caste. The four children were abandoned by mother. Their father was killed in the war. The grandparents are caring for the children as best as they can. The grandmother is blind and the grandfather crippled, making supporting this family nearly impossible. Both of them received their injuries from the war.

This is the little girl I met.

This is the little girl I met.

One of these four children is a precious little girl who is being abused by local fishermen. Some days they don’t have food to eat. The day we visited was such a day. The little baby was cared for by the older sister (8 years old). He just cried and cried.

World Concern is intervening in this small community of 15 families. We have plans for small gardens, goats, Children’s Clubs, and other life-giving, life-saving interventions. Before we left, we prayed for this sweet forgotten family. Forgotten by most, but not by God, and not by World Concern.

Tonight we stopped at the hut of a young mother. She has five children. They have absolutely nothing. The clothing on their backs is all they have and when it is washed they have nothing to wear until it dries. The father too was killed in the war. This mom has no hope and tragically tried to take her own life and the life of her baby. The little one died. She survived. She is completely broken in every possible way.

Our compassionate staff is working with her and her situation. I wish you could have seen the tender way they met with her, cared for her, and prayed with her—it would have brought tears to your eyes as it did mine. They will look after her needs and the needs of her family, walking with her for the long journey.

FaithWorld Concern is the hands, feet, and face of Jesus here. This is why we do what we do. And we couldn’t do any of this without you. Thank you for partnering with us.

I have never been more humbled and committed to our mission. Pray with me that the Lord will bless this work. It is a light in many dark places.

For Girls, School Can Mean Escaping Child Marriage, Poverty, and Abuse

“I want to be the first girl from this village to go to high school.”

As 12-year-old Jackline spoke these words, she glanced up nervously to see if anyone listening to her believed it was possible.

Jackline outside primary school.

You can help a girl like Jackline be the first in her village to attend high school.

Jackline is a soft-spoken girl from rural Kenya. And she knows that in this part of the world if she doesn’t go to high school, she’ll likely be married off soon—to a man not of her choosing—just like her four sisters were.

But Jackline has a dream of a different kind of life. She dreams of the kind of life you or I would want for our children.

“My father is a sheep trader. He sells animals for money,” explained Jackline. In order for her to attend high school, her father would have to sacrifice too much of his flock, and risk losing the family’s livelihood completely if there was a drought.

“I’m the first girl in my family to go to primary school,” shared Jackline shyly.

In her village, girls Jackline’s age and younger who are not able to attend primary school are living a bleak and sometimes brutal reality.

Girls in Jackline's primary class.

Girls in Jackline’s primary class.

“They are caring for sheep. They don’t get to play, and they don’t go to school,” she explained. “Sometimes they are beaten by their parents if they make a mistake.”

In her Maasai culture, polygamy is still practiced, which means each of her sisters probably became co-wives of older men who have established flocks of sheep and income to support another young wife. Like most girls in this culture, her sisters will probably have several children by the time they reach 20 years old.

It gets worse… many young girls are subjected to female circumcision—a horrific practice that leaves them permanently marred. “If I were not in school, the process would have started to marry me off,” explained a sweet 10-year-old girl in Jackline’s village. “First, I would be circumcised, then married.”

A high school education for a girl can mean escaping child marriage, extreme poverty, and even abuse.

Listed on this chalk board in Jackline's classroom are some of the struggles girls in rural Kenya face.

Listed on this chalk board in Jackline’s classroom are some of the struggles girls in rural Kenya face.

But something has happened in a nearby village… something Jackline can hardly imagine. One of the girls who received a high school scholarship from World Concern has been accepted to a Kenyan university. Not only was she among the few girls in this region to attend high school, now she’s headed to college.

Jackline and her teacher, who inspires her to become a teacher one day herself and ensure other girls have the opportunity to go to school.

Jackline and her teacher, who inspires her to become a teacher one day herself and ensure other girls have the opportunity to go to school.

“I just want to go to the farthest possible level and complete school,” said Jackline. And if she gets this chance, she wants to make sure other girls have the same opportunity. “I want to become a teacher when I finish school so I can teach in this school.”

Happy girls in schoolI know that when girls are educated, amazing things can happen. I’ve seen it, and it’s life-changing. When you donate to the School4Girls campaign, $50 can provide an entire year of education for a girl like Jackline.

Turn her dream into reality by helping a girl like Jackline be the first in her village to attend high school. You’ll change her future and the future of her entire community.

Donate today: www.worldconcern.org/school4girls