I watched the evening news a couple of nights ago and saw a story that excited me and broke my heart, all at the same time. The story was one in a series about girls in the country of Kenya, and how their prospects in life were not very good. It was a story like many you and I have seen over the years, all-too-frequent circumstances of poverty, abuse, no education, few opportunities and tremendous lost potential. But this one struck me in a special way.
The story focused on a program called “Safe Spaces,”sponsored by the International relief agency CARE. Amidst the daunting odds faced by these girls, one named Florence blurts out with conviction and confidence, “In every girl there is something big!” Her words and voice were in stark contrast to the dark circumstances in which she was living; her belief in her own potential and in the gifts of every girl in her midst touched me deeply. (Watch the video link above and see whether it reaches you in a similar way.)
The news story affirmed for me the new Louise Nielsen initiative that Winds of Peace has undertaken in Nicaragua to make an impact on education, and especially for girls. As we explore the deficits, the needs, the limitations, the opportunities and the hope within the education movement in Nicaragua, the message is clear: without ample opportunity for kids to learn their way out of poverty, the road to a better life is nearly impossible. The toll on Nicaraguan society is immense. The drain on its economy is incalculable. The threat to its future is daunting. The tragedy of the children is heartbreaking.
In an age when children are denied a chance at education based upon gender, when we are seemingly frantic for answers to the crushing problems that face us, when the world’s conflicts are desperate for new voices and new solutions to ages-old issues, Florence’s voice is a shout for recognition, for participation, to be part of the world’s answers instead of one of its problems. I have found myself both cheered and haunted by her ever since.
How ironic to possess all the pieces to a beautiful puzzle and to throw out some because they are too small, or jagged, or too whatever…..