This past Sunday I had the chance to sing of a very good cause and it is actually the second time I have been given the opportunity since last year was the first annual "Brick by Brick" concert. It is a challenge for me to try and summarize the efforts of Memory and Christie and their organization, Malawai Girls on the Move, but I will try to do my best to convey the type of work that they do and how important it is. I was first linked to this project because Christie is actually the sister of my choir conductor. Christie is a secondary school teacher here in Canada and she volunteered to teach at an all girls school in Malawi for a year in August 2000. However, the school she was teaching at closed in December 2000 and the 24 girls were left without a facility to continue their education. Christie and Memory decided to continue their efforts to seek the finances that these girls would require and in that time that small goal was the stimulus for the formation of a school for underprivileged girls in rural Malawi. Christie currently fundraises and provides information for donors and sponsors in Canada and Memory is now the director of the APU Secondary School for Girls in rural Malawi which opened in 2008.
When I first heard about this project, as sad as it is to say, I just felt a huge amount of disconnect from it. Living where I am---being raised in a 1st world country, where I have always been allowed to go to school, places me in a bubble where I forget that I am one of the rare subsets of the female population that is given this much opportunity. How can I be raised in a society full of privilege, yet, I am ignorant to the realities of other women in the world? Of course, I do realize that there is gender disparity that still exists in my current society, but when we complain about how women are not treated equal in the workplace, we must remember that there are women who are not even provided the education to escape from the domestic sphere. As well, even if women do attend school, they may face emotional and physical abuse from members of their society. It's such a destructive cycle! I can't even imagine my current life without my education. I was raised in environment with education was required. I never questioned it. I always assumed I would be going to University even though neither one of my parents holds a University degree. Simply put, education provides the knowledge and skills for people to better themselves. My parents worked the jobs they needed to work in order to provide money and opportunity for my siblings and I to pursue our own academic goals. For this, I am ever grateful. Education is the tool that these Malawian girls require in order to elevate themselves from being yet another woman trapped by societal expectation. Education also provides the intellectual empowerment that these girls require in order to shape a better future for themselves: one where women have the right and access to knowledge and are not oppressed by societal forces.
The concert on Sunday was entitled Brick by Brick because that is exactly how this school is being built---brick by brick. The fundraising funds brought in by concerts and other fundraising efforts. Memory and Christie's continue to fundraise for the school in order to ensure that there are continuous funds to support these girls through their educational years. This project has not been endorsed by any major celebrities or funded by huge government grants, all the money has come from individual donors and communities who believe in the cause. There is so much more to learn that I cannot do justice in this short blog entry so I urge you to visit their site to learn more about this fantastic cause. There you can learn more about the girls, the founders, and ways you can volunteer or donate. As well, I have posted a short video that allows you to have a real context for this important cause.
Take care and thanks for reading this entry which, perhaps, isn't as musically related as my other posts :)