Thursday, June 26, 2014

Malala Calls on Global Leaders to Fund Education
250 million children are unable to read or write by the time they reach grade 4. Across the world, 57 million children are still without access to school. Today in Brussels education leaders from around the globe are speaking out for these children.

Global Partnership for Education is an international organization that focuses on supporting countries' efforts to educate children from early primary school to secondary school. The GPE is comprised of donor governments, regional and international agencies, development banks, the private sector, and civil society organizations/NGOS. The GPE held a pledging conference in 2011 and were able to raise close to $2 billion dollars from 60 partners. These pledges have allowed GPE to build, rehabilitate, and equip 52,600 classrooms and train about 300,000 teachers mostly in primary education.
Credit: Global Partnership for Education

Earlier this month Malala Yousafzai joined other leading global education advocates by supporting the GPE. As a champion for the GPE, Malala has been speaking up for the rights of children to receive an education, and urging businesses, civil societies, and governments to work together on delivering education for all. The Malala Fund also provided a grant that allowed the first ever youth delegation of 12 young education advocates to attend the Second Replenishment Conference.

The Global Partnership for Education held their second pledging conference today, June 26th, in Brussels with a goal of raising 3.5 billion dollars. Malala released a video this morning featuring children in developing countries fighting for their right to receive an education. Malala urged global leaders to work together to fund education and fulfill the promise of an education for every child.

The summit in Brussels has ended, and they have raised eight times the amount they had hoped for. The GPE received $28.5 billion in funding for the education of millions of children in more than 60 developing countries. The contributions from across the globe are a sign that education crisis awareness by activists, such as Malala, can lead to meaningful action. Today there is more hope than ever that the 57 million children without access to a school will be able to receive an education in the near future.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Shiza Shahid: "There are no Superheroes, Just Us"
"There are no superheroes, just us. We are the ones we've been waiting for." These powerful words came from Shiza Shahid at the TEDxMidAtlantic 2013 conference. The theme of the conference was "Start Now", and conference organizers asked Shiza to be a featured speaker on the theme. Shiza shared three lessons that helped her begin her journey to becoming a successful social entrepreneur, and have shaped her life choices. The talk focuses on human connections, creating change in the world, and following your heart.

The presentation is a powerful introduction to the story of Malala and Shiza's friendship, from their first meeting to the origins of the Malala Fund. Shiza's voice is heavy with sorrow as she recalls the moment she learned that Malala had been shot. Yet, her sorrow turns to anger and then hope as she recounts how she realized that across the world people were protesting that a girl had been shot for going to school, and were praying and hoping for Malala's recovery. Shiza ends her speech by saying "I am Malala", and explaining how powerful of a statement that is to her.

Shiza will be the keynote speaker for the Go Big Read program, and will be giving a public speech on October 27th at Union South's Varsity Hall. This TEDxMidAtlantic talk is an indication of the enthusiasm and eloquence that Shiza will be bringing to her speech.  

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Shiza Shahid, Co-Founder of the Malala Fund, is Keynote Speaker for Go Big Read

In 2014, 57 million children are not enrolled in school. According to the United Nations, 53% of the children are girls, and 2/3 of the illiterate people in the world are women. Shiza Shahid is working with Malala Yousafzai to reverse this epidemic and empower girls to reach their potential through education.

 Shiza first met Malala when she was a sophomore in college at Stanford University. Shiza grew up in Pakistan just three hours from Malala's home, and when she heard about Malala's fight to keep her school open she knew that she needed to help. That summer Shiza planned a camp for Malala and 27 other girls in the capital of Pakistan. The camp's goal was to empower them to be entrepreneurs and activists. 

It was only a few years later that Malala was shot by the Taliban, and Shiza traveled to be by her side in England. While recovering in the hospital, Malala realized that she wanted to turn her tragedy into a movement that could inspire and empower girls across the world. Malala, Malala's father, and Shiza decided to create an organization with a mission to empower girls through education so that they can become agents of change in their communities. In October of 2013 the Malala Fund was officially launched. The Malala fund works with local partners around the world to help the 600 million girls in developing countries receive an education. The fund believes that education empowers girls to raise their voices, to unlock their potential, and to demand change. 

Shiza will be on campus October 27-28 to meet with small groups of students and to deliver a public talk at Varsity Hall.

Links to the Malala Fund's website, Facebook, and Twitter are below:

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Friday, June 13, 2014

2011-2012 Go Big Read Author Interviewed on Influx of Children Immigrants


NBC News reported that 47,000 children crossed the US border alone in 2013, but that number has already been surpassed in 2014 and it may go as high as 90,000. Border patrol facilities have been flooded with Central American children and many are wondering what has spurred this increase. Tom Ashbrook invited Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique's Journey, to discuss the recent influx, what is sending the children north, and what may happen to them now. 

Photo Credit: Breitbart Texas Release
Sonia discussed the increase of gang violence in Honduras, and Central America, that is compelling the children to travel to the United States and reunite with relatives. Children have to ride atop freight trains that they call "tren de la muerte" or the "train of death". Sonia rode atop the "train of death" from Honduras to the United States border twice, each trip three months long. Sonia witnessed bandits along the rails that grabbed migrant children, robbed them, raped the girls, and sometimes killed them. Sonia discussed that the majority of children have no money, and instead are only travelling with a "little scrap of paper with their relative's phone number in the U.S." 

The children are also victims to the Zetas, a Mexican drug cartel. The Zetas are "kidnapping 18,000 Central Americans in Mexico every year." The Zetas prefer children since they can call the telephone number of the relative in the U.S. they are carrying with them on their scrap of paper to demand ransom. "If you don't pay, and sometimes even if you do, they will put you in a barrel of acid to dissolve you and leave no evidence. This is what parents and children are willing to face to escape the violence in their home countries." Sonia believes that children are willing to travel alone in this dangerous environment to avoid the hazardous and unpredictable conditions of their homelands.

The passion and hurt in Sonia's voice is a reminder of the powerful message of Enrique's Journey. The 2011-2012 Go Big Read book is a story that is reflecting a current crisis in Central American and the United States. We would love for your opinion or thoughts on the current situation, so feel free to comment!

The link below is the full 46 minute radio program with Guest Sonia Nazario.