Education has power to 'transform lives'
Education is one of the keys to empowering girls and helping families out of poverty. Ahead of the International Day of the Girl on 11 October, staff from the Dignity Freedom Network Australia describe how their partner organisation in India, Good Shepherd (part of the Anglican Church), is supporting girls there to gain an education, as well as dreams and hope the future.
Despite the difficulties of this year, teachers and parents in Australia have worked in partnership to ensure the best possible outcome for our students, as the value of education is recognised in our communities. But this is not the case in many countries. A stark difference exists for children raised in poverty, oppression and exploitation, with girls suffering the most.
At Dignity Freedom Network, we believe in the power of education to transform lives and break the cycle of vulnerabilities. That’s why we are at the forefront of championing education in various communities in India, working hard to support and keep girls in school.
Samitra* and her parents live in rural India. Her parents are trapped in bonded labour. The family’s crops failed a few years ago after a long period of drought and they were left with no income. Desperate, they agreed to a loan from a businessman on the condition that they work for him rolling cigarettes to pay back the loan. They did not know the interest rate was so high that they would never be able to pay it back.
For Samitra, this meant there was little money for food and she was pulled out of her local school. Rolling cigarettes would become her future, as such debts are passed down through generations. Her future looked bleak – her family exploited, hopeless and exhausted.
Samitra’s life changed when our team met her family and heard her story. They arranged for Samitra to attend a Good Shepherd School and found sponsors to support her. Samitra is learning more than academics. The school provides health care and exposure to sport and the arts. Best of all, Samitra is learning that she has value and worth. She now has dreams for the future which gives hope to her parents.
Fuelled by God’s heart for the marginalised and guided by God’s commands to act justly and love mercy (Micah 6:8), Dignity Freedom Network assists marginalised communities, providing hope and dignity through education, healthcare and economic empowerment. With over 3,000 national staff and 103 schools in India, 26,000 Dalit and marginalised children are accessing quality education with a Christian worldview. This will bring hope and transformation to future generations.
Education is critical in helping families out of poverty. We have seen how it is one of the most effective weapons in the fight against slavery, child brides and child labour.
As the world commemorates International Day of the Girl on 11 October, we reflect on the difference education can make in the life of vulnerable girls, and would like to provide an opportunity for students everywhere to engage and help make a difference in the lives of those most in need around the world.
There are many more girls like Samitra; girls who are learning that life can change and have purpose and hope, and that they are deeply loved and valued.
Over 7,000 girls in our schools are currently unsponsored. This International Day of the Girl, we want to ensure they continue to receive a quality education, to change the course of their lives and the future of their families. Just $33/month provides one month of education for a girl in India.
Everyone can contribute to changing a life. We invite students to partner with us and see how your small efforts can make a world of a difference to someone’s life. There are various fun and interesting ways to get involved, whether in your school, church or local community.
* Name changed to protect identity