When I was very young, I visited India and I was horrified at the unequal treatment of women. I was appalled that women were forced to marry at a much younger age than men, and were denied an equal education. If they wouldn’t bear children – or couldn’t – they were shunned by their own families and communities. I’ve held the injustice close to my heart ever since.
So, I was ecstatic when I learned of the Swami’s vision at the temple I attend. He wanted to build a school in rural India to educate and empower all children, and give them opportunities to achieve their dreams. This school teaches girls about freedom and choice. It also educates boys to respect and value female members of their communities, and treat them as peers.
Many organizations establish schools to educate and empower girls, but don’t encourage the men and the community around them to support the girls, making it much harder for them to succeed. We’re not creating a clash between women and men, but helping to build a community that supports the empowerment of women.
Educated women and girls are less vulnerable to forms of exploitation such as human trafficking and HIV infection, according to the Academic Exchange education blog. They’re more likely to marry later and have fewer children, and their children are less likely to suffer from stunting and other forms of malnutrition. Indeed, each additional year of a mother’s education is estimated to reduce infant mortality by 2%.
We’ve worked hard to build the school and the community around it. On a recent visit, I wanted to go around the local villages and film what happened to children who lacked, or couldn’t get, proper schooling. I was expecting to find very young brides doing domestic chores like laundry or cooking, or working in the fields. To my surprise, I didn’t find any – and I realised this was because they were all at our school.
It was glorious to see evidence that the school is making a difference. And we can achieve so much more. The school wants to expand its reach and bring children from a wider area. For that it needs buses. They need food, medical supplies, teachers, computers and funding for everyday maintenance and management.
This is a small, grassroots organization, and has no executive costs or any spending on marketing campaigns. You can rest assured that the maximum amount possible of any donation is used for essential services.
If this inspires you, we would greatly appreciate any help you can provide, to help us continue and build on our important work. Please visit schoolofhopefund.com to learn more, and make a donation.
May your world be filled with blessings and your heart be filled with joy.