Educate, Empower, Employ.
In July 2009 we deposited $1 in a bank account and since then, we have invested several million dollars of resources into our girls, their families and our community. When we started, there were new advocacy campaigns telling us how investing in girls is the key to ending poverty. We knew this could be the solution. However, our challenge was that we did not know exactly how to make those investments, how to keep girls in school, how to define empowerment and how to convince families that their daughters and sisters should be the ultimate priority in their homes. There weren’t any instructions and surely we made some mistakes.
Within the first year we learned that starting girls in the program at age 12 was too late. By 12, girls are already seen as women in the community and we needed to start earlier. Much to our surprise, we learned that their mothers would often be the biggest obstacles standing in the way of their success and that the whole family needs to be on board. We learned that just keeping them in school isn’t enough, that
we need to provide wraparound services that keep them happy, healthy and safe.
Much of our innovation was trial and error, and as we grew and witnessed entire families begin to pull themselves out of poverty, it was evident they were standing on the shoulders of our powerful girls. Girls who were once seen as only domestic laborers, caretakers of younger siblings and financial burdens on their families, are now reading, surfing, swimming, going to high school, graduating, earning income and following their passions. They are the untapped talent pool for economic reform and the mothers of our future.
Working with girls is both challenging and rewarding. We know that our investment in girls is closing the gap on generational poverty. There’s still more work and more learning to do. We have already engaged thousands of dedicated volunteers, donors, educators and partners, now is the time to build upon these relationships, create new ones and share best practices. We believe our campus is the ideal place to do just that. Join us.
Patricia Thorndike Suriel
Executive Director, Mariposa DR Foundation