In a small Haitian village, 7-year-old Wadley leaves the small shack she and her mother live in to fetch water. She walks through the devastation left from the 2010 earthquake. By the rubble of her former school, students have gathered for class under a tarp. Wadley throws down her bucket and runs to join the class. “Wadley has your mother paid for you to go to school?” the teacher asked immediately. “No, we have no money,” she replied. “I’m sorry. You have to go, Wadley,” her teacher said.
This is the reality for 65 million girls a year who are not in school because of money, gender or other circumstances according to a 2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report.
PLNU students filled the 149 seats and the floor of Boney Hall Monday night to screen “ Girl Rising” at International Film Night hosted by the Study Abroad office and the Center for Women’s Studies.
“It was amazing to see the response,” said Study Abroad Director Frank Serna. “I saw people literally lining up outside during the movie after all the seats had been filled.”
Wadley is just one of the nine girls whose stories are depicted in the 2013 feature film “Girl Rising.” Arranged marriage, servitude, sexual violence were some of the issues addressed in this film.
“I think Wadley’s story impacted us all the most,” said sophomore Audrey Hiatt. “It’s amazing that after the earthquake and facing poverty she still understands the value of her education and knows that it can give her a future.”
Study Abroad Coordinator Andra Jacques said the choice of film was inspired by the United Nation’s second annual International Day of the Girl, which is celebrated on Oct. 11.
“We thought it would be a fitting way to kick of the week’s celebration of educational exchange around the world,” said Jacques. “Hearing each of those girls’ stories touched our hearts and created a fire within us to help their voices reach as many ears as possible. This is not a documentary or a fiction story. The message is very simple: educating more girls means a better future for all of us.”
This film pulls together stories from around the world, including 12-year-old Amina from Afghanistan who is sold into marriage by her family for a car to 6-year-old Suma from Nepal who is given into bonded servitude while her brothers are sent to school. For these girls, hope is found through songs, poems, dance and, for the few lucky ones, school.
“This film really showed me that global poverty can be helped not only through government aid and policy but also through educational reform,” said sophomore Jeremy Goebel.
After the film, students were prompted to find ways to join this worldwide movement for education and revolution for girls. This included sharing the film with others, volunteering to do community outreach locally and donating to a non-profit organization that is committed to helping girls around the world.