In March, a friend invited me to a viewing of the film Girl Rising. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to see the film, it’s a documentary that follows nine girls in nine different countries and depicts (in the words of the film’s website) “the power of education to change the world.” I was so inspired by the film that I sponsored my own screening the followingmonth. On the night of my screening I felt like Jimmy Stewart at the end of It’s A Wonderful Life, as people from all parts of my life (childhood friends, running buddies, neighbors, work colleagues, parents from my children’s school) showed up in support of the film. At the end of the evening I knew that I had found my calling: I was going to work to improve educational opportunities for girls in the developing world. The problem was, I didn’t know how to channel my new passion.
I began by reading books about the status of girls in the developing world. I started with Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof. I then read John Wood’s Leaving Microsoft to Change the World and First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung. While I was developing a clearer picture of the issues facing women and girls across the world, I still didn’t know how I was possibly going to make a difference.
Around this time, my friend Judy invited me to lunch. She had attended my screening of Girl Rising and was also looking to do more. She had sent me materials about the group Room to Read (the charity that above author John Wood founded to work on his own passion to improve education)and asked me to read up because she wanted to discuss something. I was intrigued. When we met the next week, Judy immediately sat down and announced (spoiler alert!) that she and I were going to build a school in Asia. I had found the channel for my passion.
We recruited another friend, Juliet (more on that from Judy), and within a month, Girls Supporting Girls was formed. Despite our hectic lives raising children and working, we have met several times over the last three months to get our organization off the ground. We are hosting an informational meeting about our group next week and are excited (to share our passion with others) and nervous (that no one will come or care). We promise to keep you posted!