A Walk Through Peru and Igniting Empowerment in Peruvian Girls
Posted: Oct 05 2017
Hey SparkFire Girls,
It's me again, Crystal, one of the SparkFire Ignitors, a high school Junior in Massachusetts, studying here as an exchange student from China. I'm coming back again from my last blog to share more about my heart for helping girls get the chance to stay in school to get an education. As I shared with you in another blog post about the girls at Sacred Valley Project school, this is personal for me, based on my own experiences & opportunities.
This past April, I ventured to Peru on my school service trip. I traveled during Semana Santa (Holy Week) and was amazed by the unity and rich culture in the community. Revisiting and doing service work at Sacred Valley Project gave me new perspectives of my own education and girls’ educations around the world.
The day before we began our service work, we visited Sacred Valley Project school homebase in Calca, Peru (in the region surrounding Machu Picchu). Since it was Easter break, most girls had left for home. We talked to the five girls who had to stay at the dormitory because it takes them several days to travel home by public transport and foot. They were a shy at first, but soon opened up when we played a few ice-breakers. They introduced themselves and told us about their journeys to Sacred Valley Project. They were from different rural countrysides and villages, but they all share a common family value that supports boys in the family to go to school instead of girls, even when the money is tight. The instructor told us when they travel into the villages to find the girls to join SVP, they usually find around a hundred qualified girls. Unfortunately, they can only take around 10 new girls each year because of limited space.
Some of the girls speak Quechua at home, so it’s kind of hard for them to communicate with us. They told us that they were struggling at school initially because of the language barrier. The tutors were very supportive and available whenever the girls need help. They are also learning Spanish in language communication class to improve their skills.
We all shared something about ourselves and found so much in common. We all like ice cream, singing, arts and crafts. At the same time, they are more mature and carry more responsibilities than other kids their age. When I asked them why they like going to school, their answers shocked me. One of the girl said she doesn’t want to live a life without a real profession. They all have goals to continue pursuing their studies after high school, advancing to university to study in medicine, agriculture, and education.
These girls' experiences inspired me with a passion for doing even more for girls' education. I want to make a difference for girls everywhere by giving back and using my voice (like in my blogs), just like SparkFire Active. We can all Be the Spark with our small actions to create a mighty flame for change.
Even though we are obligated to listen to our parents as kids, we shouldn’t let their opinions stop us from chasing our dreams. We all have the right to fight for equality in education. Gender is something that was given by our parents. And we shouldn’t let something we couldn’t change to determine whether we can get an education.
Be The Spark!
Crystal Z., SparkFire Ignitor