Safe classrooms. Clean drinking water. Basic technology. A square meal.
We might take for granted that American teenagers can expect these things when they go to school. In other parts of the world, students aren’t so lucky.
Catherine Bertini, the former Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), decided to change that. In 2003, Ms. Bertini won the $250,000 World Food Prize for her contributions to ending hunger. Rather than keep the money, she started a trust fund for girls’ education projects that has helped grow dozens of initiatives around the world.
Sacred Valley Project
In the Andes mountains, girls walk an average of 5-6 hours to reach the nearest school, and only 4 in 10 graduate. Tucked into one hillside is the Sacred Valley Project dormitory and education center, where girls have access to after-school tutoring, receive healthcare and eat well-balanced meals. SVP provides a place for girls to stay while they attend public schools nearby, which are otherwise too far from their hometowns. SVP has grown from serving just six students in 2012 to nearly 60 girls this year, and every single one of them has graduated.
“We believe that when a girl is educated, apart from it being a fundamental human right, she will have better tools with which to shape her future,” says Christie Cutler, Director of Development at SVP. “But we know it takes more than a degree for girls to achieve a life of equal opportunity.” That’s why SVP hosts workshops on topics ranging from human rights and gender equality to self-esteem and leadership. The Catherine Bertini grant will allow SVP to add 10 more girls to its incoming class.
“Educated women can be powerful changemakers,” says Christie. “Not only in their own lives, but also for their families and communities.”