On Girls, Poverty and Education

I watched two things today that left me both troubled and inspired.

Bill and Melinda Gates

Earlier in the day I watched one of the Top 10 TED Talks for Entrepreneurs in 2014 – Bill and Melinda Gates: Why giving away our wealth has been the most satisfying thing we’ve done.

As of November 2014, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has an endowment of $42B USD towards causes such as:

  • improving health by fighting enteric and diarrheal diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia and HIV
  • reducing extreme poverty by identifying and funding solutions that can help people lift themselves up and out of poverty
  • in the US, an education opportunity for all students

I deeply admire Bill and Melinda Gates for what they are doing and how they’re trying to change the world, on how their foundation is trying to look for cure, eradicate diseases that are still killing so many around the world, especially children. Bill and Melinda Gates could have chosen to keep their money to themselves, for their families, but they did not. They have chosen to give 95% of their wealth away to philanthropy, to causes they believe can make a better world, save more people from death, educate more children around the world. Not only this, even their children believe in, and are involved, in the causes they care about. They are also convincing other successful entrepreneurs and power houses to also pledge resources to help continue these causes.

Girl Rising

Later at night, unable to sleep, I put Netflix on and checked out what’s there. I ended up watching Girl Rising – a movie that tells the stories of several girls from developing countries – doing whatever they can to go to school, to learn to read and write, to help change the world. It is very sad and troubling to see that girls are still seen as properties or slaves in some parts of the world. Some girls as young as six (6) years old sold as slaves, as young as seven (7) years old given away (or sold) as brides. Some girls, despite their social status and extreme poverty, believe in the power of education and believe in their self-worth. They fight back, persevere, and fight for their rights. Some literally put their lives on the line in order to go to school. This activity – “going to school” – sadly is probably an activity that too many kids in developed countries take for granted.

Is Change Coming?

I think so. I hope so. With influential people like Bill and Melinda Gates making big changes, and movies (and movements) like Girl Rising raising awareness, the future looks optimistic.

I also believe in education, and believe it can empower anyone. This is why I teach, by choice. I believe that education empowers one to change or steer direction of his/her life, and if I can, I want to be part of it. I may be small and whatever I do is only a tiny speck compared to what other people are doing, but I hope in my own way – however little – I can also help.


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