Thursday, October 6, 2011

Half the Sky

This book was recommended to me by my dear friend Brea and has been sitting on my book shelf for about 1 year now.  Well, I finally dove in and read it and am sorry I waited so long.  This book lays "out an agenda for the world's women focusing on three particular abuses:  sex trafficking and forced prostitution; gender-based violence, including honor killings and mass rape; and maternal mortality, which still needlessly claims one woman a minute".  The hope of the authors, husband and wife, is to "recruit you to join an incipient movement to emancipate women and fight global poverty by unlocking women's power as economic catalysts". 

It's difficult to explain this book in my own words.  As heartbreaking and difficult it is to read, it's empowering and so hopeful at the sane time.  It's easy to think about injustices taking place around the world and become overwhelmed; to think it's too big of a problem.  It's even easier to ignore these injustices that are not just taking place around the world, but also within the communities in which welive.  The challenge and encouragement throughout this book is that there is SO much we can do!  It's not easy to read, but I truly hope you do, and I hope you find it educating and empowering.

Every Tuesday night for the past year I've been meeting with a great group of women from church.  It's a book club / Bible study...and a lot of fun!  At the end of each study we seek out a service project, and at the beginning of this year we bought two llamas through Heifer International.  I believe the llamas went to families in Burma.  (Please take the time to read through Heifer's website if you're not familiar with this wonderful organization). Half the Sky ended with a story that really hit home and gave me hope...

     "We'll leave you with a story that is a fine reminder of the impact we can have. The children of the Niantic Community Church in Niantic, Connecticut, bought six goats through Heifer International, as a gift for Africa. The goats are listed in the Heifer International catalog at $120 each.
     One of those goats went to the Biira family in Uganda, near the Congo border.  The goat was named luck and lived up to its name:  it promptly produced twins.  The Biira children drank the milk for a nutritional boost, and the parents sold some of the milk to raise a bit of extra income.  They had not been able to afford to send their daughter Beatrice to school, keeping her home instead to do chores.  But with the extra income from the milk, the parents decided to send the girl to the village school. 
     Beatrice was nine years old, while all the other first graders were just six.  But she worked diligently and rocketed to the top of the class.  She was such a prodigious student that she eventually won a scholarship to Uganda's best girls' school.  Finally, she became the first student from her village to go abroad to study - and in 2008 she graduated from Connecticut College.  "I am one of luckiest girls in the world," Beatrice declared at her graduation party, and she added to us: "It's all because of a goat!"  Now Beatrice is earning a graduate degree and working on a United Nations project for the millennium goals - but there are so many other girls who are left behind, for want of a goat."

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