How Scholarships Work to Stop Child Marriage

It was one of those God moments.

I was observing a class of preschool children joyfully singing songs and reciting the alphabet in English in a rural village in Bangladesh. Their “classroom” was a dirt courtyard between shacks, but they didn’t mind. Their bright faces were intently focused on their teacher, following her lead as she moved her hands to the rhythm of the song and mouthed the words to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

As the young teacher turned around, our eyes met and we immediately recognized each other. Her name was Salma, and I had met her three years earlier when I had spent a week in the same area interviewing young girls who were at risk of being married off as child brides.

interviewing girls who received scholarships in BangladeshDuring that first trip, I listened to many heartbreaking stories of 12 to 14-year-old girls whose parents were too poor to pay for them to attend school.  Their parents felt they had no choice but to marry their daughters off to older men who could support them.

Salma was one of those girls. She was around 13 the first time we met—an innocent girl who giggled shyly with her friends as she waited for our interview. Salma told me she wanted to be a teacher, but she feared her father would marry her off. Her only hope was to stay in school.

Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. Girls who are in school are six times less likely to be married before the age of 18.

With the support and generosity of donors, World Concern provides scholarships to girls like Salma. It costs just $50 for an entire year’s tuition in a place like Bangladesh. A small amount to save a girl from the horrors of child marriage and offer her the gift of education, the ability to pursue her dreams, and escape the cycle of extreme poverty.

Salma received a scholarship, finished high school, avoided child marriage, and today, she is planning to go to college. The smile on her face says it all. She is free and full of hope for the future.

two women in Bangladesh talking about scholarships
Cathy and Salma, three years after their first meeting in Bangladesh.

After her preschool class was dismissed, we walked to a small shop where we ran into some of the other girls I met three years earlier. Dipa and Rima were running a small business, selling beaded purses and hair clips for income. They too had received scholarships and avoided child marriage.

two girls who received scholarships in Bangladesh
Dipa and Rima stand in front of the small business they run together.

As I watched these beautiful, educated young women pursuing their dreams, there was no doubt in my mind—

Scholarships work.

Find out how you can provide a scholarship for a girl at risk of becoming a child bride. 

Two Mothers, Different Worlds

How a Samburu Mom’s Unexpected Questions Changed Me

Written by Heather Nelson, One Village Transformed Communications Coordinator. 

I stepped off the plane and immediately felt the crisp air telling all my senses I was back home. After a week in the dry, scorching climate of Kenya, breathing in the Seattle air reminded me of drinking a tall glass of water after feeling uncomfortably parched the last seven days.

Still, there were two things I thirsted for more than the familiar scenery and drinkable air: seeing (and squeezing!) my two sweet boys I’d left behind while I flew across the world for my first trip to the field with World Concern.

I have the privilege of working as the One Village Transformed Communications Coordinator with World Concern, a vocation that lets me deep dive into the incredible transformational development happening in more than 30 villages in Asia, Africa, and Haiti.

The thing is, my job mostly takes place at a desk. I read technical reports emailed from the field, and I write from the comfort of my office chair. I share exciting updates with One Village Transformed supporters so they can see and feel the impact their gifts are having. It’s blessed work that I care about deeply. But until a few weeks ago, I mostly did this job from my head.

Now that’s changed.

Continue reading Two Mothers, Different Worlds

How Parents are Speaking Out against Child Trafficking

There are kids who don’t have anyone to protect them.

Alone and vulnerable, they’re more susceptible to the lies of traffickers. People who promise them good jobs, a bright future, and success, who only seek to exploit them for personal gain.

It seems promising in the moment, but before they know it, they’re trapped with no way out.

Kids as young as toddlers are being taken and sold. Abused. Coerced. Forced into prostitution.

Who will rescue them? Continue reading How Parents are Speaking Out against Child Trafficking

How to Talk to Your Kids about Human Trafficking

As a parent, it’s natural to want to protect your kids from things that could harm or upset them.

But at the same time, you want to answer their tough questions honestly and help them grow into compassionate young people.

Not knowing when to bring up difficult subjects like human trafficking, where to start, and how much detail to go into are a few reasons we choose not to talk to our kids about them at all.

How are you supposed to be honest while still protecting your kids? Continue reading How to Talk to Your Kids about Human Trafficking

Can I Ever Go Home? A True Story of Child Trafficking

Cho’s family was desperately poor and in debt. All of the families in his village in Myanmar struggled to have enough food to eat. So Cho (whose name has been changed) and his friends made a plan. They heard stories about jobs that were easy and paid a lot of money in China. As young teenagers it was illegal for them to work in China, but they knew a man who said he could find work for them.

Continue reading Can I Ever Go Home? A True Story of Child Trafficking

Finding Hope in Lolkuniani – One Village Transformed

It’s dry in Lolkuniani.

So dry that moms and their children walk up to six hours a day to find water. The riverbeds are bare and dusty, but if they dig deep enough small pools of water gradually appear. It’s this water, brown and murky, they scoop into containers that are so heavy when filled they must use a strap against their foreheads to carry the weight.

It’s a physical burden that represents not only the hardships they face, but the weight of understanding that this is not what it means to live a full, abundant life.

Lolkuniani is ready for a change. Continue reading Finding Hope in Lolkuniani – One Village Transformed

A Light in the Darkest Place – Asha’s Story

This story is representative of what families are facing each day in dangerous conflict zones. As you read Asha’s story, put yourself in her shoes. What would you do without food for your children when even stepping outside puts yourself and your child in danger?

Continue reading A Light in the Darkest Place – Asha’s Story

If Not Us, Then Who? Why We Serve at the End of the Road

There are places in the world where the road ends and help stops.

These places are desolate, isolated, and dangerous. The problems there—both natural and man-made—have gone on for too long to make the headlines. They are places where humanitarian aid has fallen short.

Continue reading If Not Us, Then Who? Why We Serve at the End of the Road

World Concern 2018: A Year in Review

As a valuable member of our World Concern family, thank you for all you’ve done to help families in the poorest places, in Jesus’ name, around the world!

Join us in looking back on 2018 and see how you’ve helped the most vulnerable, beyond the very end of the road.

Continue reading World Concern 2018: A Year in Review

3 Ways to Teach Your Children about Giving this Christmas

Gifts to wrap, food to buy, parties to attend – it seems your to-do list around Christmastime grows longer each year.

You search for the best gifts for your children (or grandchildren) and once Christmas morning comes and the wrapping paper flies off in a flurry, they’re lost in the wonder of new gifts. It’s an exciting time for sure, but sometimes the true meaning of Christmas can get lost in the excitement.

Talking to your kids about generosity during the Christmas season is important, but finding the right time to do so can be difficult.

That’s why we’re here to help!

Continue reading 3 Ways to Teach Your Children about Giving this Christmas