Written by Melody Mociulski, Chair and Founder of Educational Empowerment
Girls around the world today are struggling to achieve their basic human rights – protection from forced labor, early marriage, conflict, and sex slavery; access to education; prevention of needless death from pregnancy and childbirth; freedom to determine for themselves their life path.
In the face of these ongoing and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, natural disasters add yet one more barrier for them to overcome.
On Friday May 2nd, 2008, Cyclone Nargis, the 8th worst cyclone ever recorded, hit the Ayeyarwady Delta in Myanmar. Approximately 150,000 people were killed, and 20,000 girls and boys were orphaned.
Villagers were starting their day as usual when all of a sudden the wind whipped up the river and the water began to rise. Trees and houses crashed down and floated away. Families were separated. Darkness came. Although crying of children and animals could be heard, no one could see anything. The water kept creeping up. In the morning, all was mud and destruction. Children tried to find their families and make sense of this nightmare.
Nargis destroyed 60% of the schools in the Delta. And those left standing had no usable sanitation facilities, furniture, or classroom materials. Rebuilding schools and restoring the formal education system in the aftermath of a disaster are crucial to help girls in disaster-stricken communities regain a sense of normalcy and security, and obtain the psychosocial support needed to overcome such a traumatic experience.
Since 2008 post-cyclone reconstruction has been slow, hampered by near impossible logistical access and lack of electricity and fresh water. Parents in the Delta understand the importance of education, and they readily relocate to a village that has a school. The most effective way to address society’s costs for future hazards is to invest in expanding the knowledge of girls and boys. Without an education, girls in the Delta are doomed to a continued life of extreme poverty.
In partnership with a local non-profit organization, Educational Empowerment is building a primary school in the Delta to empower Burmese girls through education. During a trip to Myanmar in January, I will attend the school’s dedication celebration. I am excited to hear stories first hand from girls who survived the cyclone and now have a chance to learn to read and receive an education – their beacon of hope for the future.
Educational Empowerment fulfills that hope for Burmese girls by providing access to schools and books, incentives to stay in school, and support for teachers.
Let’s join together to ensure all girls and boys have hope for education and for a better life.
To take immediate action:
- Join Girls’ Globe in the conversation on Twitter @GirlsGlobe
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- Donate to Educational Empowerment at.
- Let your voices be heard for girls worldwide!
Educational Empowerment was created by women and for women and girls. EE promotes literacy and education for children, families and communities severely affected by poverty and injustice in Myanmar. By empowering women and girls through education, we position women in Myanmar to attain their equal rights.