We are so honored today to be celebrating one million days of school funded through our partnership with Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program.
When I first heard of Room to Read, the story of the founders resonated with me—people who had left the corporate world to pursue their dreams. The more I learned about the organization, its reputation for transparency and excellence, and their commitment to growing and learning, the more inspired I became.
Their Girls’ Education Program grew out of the realization that girls are so often pulled out of school to help at home. John Wood and Erin Ganju, the co-founders of Room to Read, wanted to create a program that supported girls and their families to ensure they could stay in school.
When you educate a girl, it impacts not only her quality of life but also the community around her. She is likely to go on to create a smaller, healthier family and educate her own children, creating a powerful circle of literacy and empowerment. She is also likely to earn a higher wage and contribute more to her community.
The Girls’ Education Program goes far beyond textbooks and classrooms. Local mentors, called social mobilizers, work closely with the girls and their families to advise and advocate for the students. The girls also receive life skills education like career-planning, time management and emotional skills.
I’m delighted to share with you the stories of two girls who changed the course of their lives, with the help of the Girls’ Education Program.
Ara and her parents in Sri Lanka learned the importance of an education through the local social mobilizer, Farzeena Marhoof. Ara is one of five children, and although her parents are supportive, they needed her help with household chores and looking after her siblings. With Farzeena’s guidance and advice, Ara completed mock exam preparation, learned how to set goals, and placed 2nd in her district in the Advanced Level exam. Now, she is the first woman in her family to complete secondary education and has been accepted into the prestigious University of Colombo.
Phounam of Cambodia has always wanted to be a doctor. There are no doctors in her village, and the only hospital is far away. She hopes to attend medical school, then return to her village and set up a clinic to care for her community. In addition to chemistry, she has learned critical thinking and the importance of basic hygiene for health and disease prevention. She created a health initiative with friends, traveling to surrounding villages and teaching classes to primary school children.
I am inspired every day by the beautiful hearts and minds of these young women and their families. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your help in making this change possible.