For my girl effect post, I wanted to tell as story from my own family. Golf is my niece. She was raised by her mum, Crab, in a family of thirteen people in rural Thailand with a single income of 150 US dollars supporting the whole household. She came to live with us when she was fifteen and now we are helping and supporting her to get to university. She is an incredible young woman. Over the past four years I have been astounded by her tenacity, her generosity, and her bravery - not just when she lost her toe, or was attacked - but in other horrible situations that have been inflicted upon her. I am honoured to know her and to learn from her determination. How her story will now differ from her mother's is the essence of the girl effect.
Golf knows that in her family, despite the difficult things she has had to overcome, she is the lucky one. She alone has the intelligence and drive - and now the means - to get educated and get out. This incredible child is setting out on a path which has the potential to change her life, and have an impact on the situation of her whole family. I know she will treat this opportunity as a gift and work as hard as she possibly can to fulfill her potential. I am so proud of her. I can't wait to see how brightly her light will shine in the future.
The University she has chosen is wonderful. We arrive for our visit early one morning, tired from our long journey from our island home, buffeted by the monsoon winds which sweep the Bangkok streets clean of leaves and litter. It's a modern and shining testament to education and the promise of the children who will be responsible for Thailand’s future development. The smell of learning is in the air as bright young things dart around. Their loud, confident young energy fills the air, their potential palpable. With a wealth of information spread at their feet and a lifetime of living dancing towards them - in a country in which the sky is the limit - their canvas is fresh. Life is there for the taking. In a city ravaged by political troubles, a country in turmoil and conflict with itself, this is where the future will begin: with education.
With the striving of kids like Golf, who don’t have it all handed to them on a plate, who don’t languish away their chance at an education on booze and late night parties. Kids whose mothers grew up impoverished and fed families of six on a few dollars a week, whose mums - like Crab - left school for the marriage bed at fifteen.
And for Crab, through it all - the child bearing, the struggle, the slave labour, the intimate acquaintance with the breadline - this is the moment that makes it all worth it: The shining dream of a daughter who can walk confidently in these hallowed halls, who can take her seat at a table of business as an equal. Who can throw off the stigma of her southern roots, the rural poverty and muck of the rice fields that flows through her veins, and contribute something to the open book of Thailand’s future - writing her part in her own life. She will be the first woman in her family's history who can hold her own amongst her contemporaries as an equal - not needing a man to control and shape her destiny as Crab has. Who has choice.
Please watch this video to learn what the girl effect is all about, or visit the website, or join in the link party on Tara Mohr's blog this page between the 4th and 11th of October.