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International Day of the Girl Child – 11 October 2019
The little ones are saying to all the girl child around the world!
When I introduced the International Day of the Girl Child to the residents of Ahuva Good Shepherd-Small Group Care, none of them had heard of it. They were also certain that even their teachers did not know such a day existed since they had not received any presents from their teachers on this day. (Thankfully, I prepared chocolates for them. Phew!)
“We just celebrated Children’s Day last week. Why do we have another special day just for girls?”
I asked. “Because we are better than boys. Boys are annoying.” I could not help but laugh at their innocent answers.
Having recently joined this ministry, I discovered that our children love stories. They would often request to hear stories from the bible, stories about me, just about any story will do. (“ANY stories, sister, just tell me at least 2!”) So I decided to tell them stories about female infanticide (a very long and cool word they learned), the story of Malala, and articles I recently read from the Straits Times about the realities of the girl child. They were outraged to hear about the deprivation of life, food and education of the girl child. They also pledged to treat their future sons and daughters equally, such as making both sexes do household chores equally and sending all their children to school!
Finally they were encouraged to write notes to the girl child around the world. They wrote empowering messages such as “Every child has the right to freedom”, “All girls, you have the power. Stop female infanticide.”, “All girls are supposed to go to school, we are humans too!”
Yet, when I asked the various girls who wrote messages, such as “You are beautiful and unique in your own way.” and “Be strong, believe in yourself and be happy.”, if these messages applied to them too, they replied heart-wrenchingly, “No, I’m ugly and I hate myself”, “I’m not good”, “ I wish my mother female infanticide me so that I did not have to be born into this unhappy life.”
Their answers lingered in my mind and in my prayers for many days after. It got me to ponder how easily we feel compassion towards others but remain so callously harsh on ourselves. As you read this article, I invite you to pause for a moment to pray for the girl child around the world, to pray for our little ones at Ahuva Good Shepherd- Small Group Care, and to pray for the little girl child within you. I invite you to send tender, gentle, loving and compassionate energy to your little girl child within you so that it may radiate from inside out to touch and heal the brokenness in our world.
Such is the gravity of raising awareness of this very important day to all. Let us bring hope, peace and love to all the girl child we meet.
By Fiona Yeo, rgs Residential Social Worker, Ahuva Good Shepherd – Small Group Care, Marymount Centre, Singapore