At Edge of Seven, we are dedicated to creating a movement of social change. We are not 1 person, or 10 people, but an entire volunteer network of people both at home and abroad that believe each person should have access to food, water, and education. I’d like to take the opportunity to spotlight one exceptional volunteer who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to empower girls, her age, in rural Nepal. Ann Mackey, a 16 year-old from Denver, will be joining us for two weeks this summer to build a dorm in Salleri, Nepal.
As many of you know, we recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $6,000 for The Mountain Between Us, a documentary exposing the challenges that girls face when trying to pursue education in Nepal. As soon as we launched the campaign, I received the following email from Ann:
“I am eager to do a fundraiser for the 12 minute documentary. I have been motivated by movies similar to this before and think they really make an impact on people.”
I was touched. And then, I was impressed. Over the course of two weeks, Ann raised $4,200 from over 50 donors. Note to self: never underestimate the power of a teenage girl. I asked her to send me her appeal letter since she achieved such astounding success in such a short amount of time and I’d like to share that letter today.
For as long as I can remember, I have been concerned about the world around me and have become increasingly passionate about making it better. I am fortunate to have a family that is willing to support my every — reasonable — request. Recently, I have been granted the opportunity to travel to Nepal this summer for three weeks to help finish building a dormitory for 40 girls in the village of Solukhumbu, which is located in the Everest Region.
This construction project is being funded and managed through Edge of Seven, a nonprofit organization that creates opportunities for volunteers to a make a change and be changed by people from the most distant corners of the world. The dormitory will serve the current and following generation of girls in the region who seek to finish the equivalent of high school.
To some this may seem like three weeks from hell: traveling alone half-way across the world, living in third world conditions (with strangers that don’t speak English), putting in hard, manual labor from sunup to sundown — but to me it is a dream come true. I chose this particular project because I am realizing the importance of educating women and girls in developing countries.
The education of women and girls in the developing world leads to improvements both economically and socially. The following facts are a sample of the “girl effect”:
- Lowering infant and child mortality rates: Women with some formal education are more likely to seek medical care, ensure their children are immunized, be better informed about their children’s nutritional requirements and adopt improved sanitation practices. As a result, their infants and children have higher survival rates and tend to be healthier and better nourished.
- Lowering maternal mortality rates: Women with some formal education tend to have better knowledge about health care practices, are less likely to become pregnant at a very young age, tend to have fewer, better-spaced pregnancies, and seek pre- and post-natal care. It is estimated that an additional year of schooling for 1,000 women helps prevent two maternal deaths.
- Creating intergenerational education benefits: Mothers’ education is a significant variable affecting children’s education attainment and opportunities. In many countries each additional year of formal education completed by a mother translates into her children remaining in school for an additional one-third to one-half year.
- (World Bank, Girls’ Education, 2009.)
- When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
- (United Nations Population Fund, State of World Population 1990.)
- When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.
- (Chris Fortson, “Women’s Rights Vital for Developing World,” Yale News Daily 2003.)
- When 10 percent more girls go to secondary school, the country’s economy grows by 3 percent.
- (Barbara Herz and Gene Sperling, What Works in Girls Education 2004)
Nepal is certainly a developing county. With the literacy rate at an estimated 67 percent and the unemployment rate at an estimated 46 percent, it is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world. With almost one-quarter of its population living below the poverty line, agriculture the mainstay of the economy, landlocked geographic location, civil strife, labor unrest and its susceptibility to natural disaster, the country faces many challenges.
Home to Everest and the Himalayas, Nepal is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful countries in the world. Populated with Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims; located at the convergence of Tibet and India, Nepal’s culture is intricate and rich. Most important, the country has hope. With a new democratic government in place and the drafting of a new constitution, rapid changes are being made.
I am seeking your help to make a change. Please help me raise funds for an important video: “Edge of Seven is partnering with the Peaks Foundation to film a 12- minute documentary to highlight the stories of two phenomenal women in rural Nepal and tell their stories of hope and of optimism,” explained Erin Guttenplan, founder of Edge of Seven. The purpose of the documentary is “To raise awareness of the challenges facing the girls in Nepal,” says Chloe Chick of the Peaks Foundation. Awareness is always the first process in change. Through this documentary, the global community will be made aware of the challenges and hardships and will be eager to help improve the lives of the Nepalese through the education and empowerment of women and girls.
To see the trailer, please visit http://www.vimeo.com/22171473.
As with many things in life, one thing stands in their way from recording, processing and screening the film around the world — money. To date, $2,120 of the $6,000 needed has been raised. There are only two weeks left to reach the fundraising goal. It is my hope you will join me in helping Edge of Seven improve the lives of girls through education in Nepal and create a positive change that will echo throughout the Everest Region. I will venture to do the manual labor in Nepal and I am asking you to donate so that together we can help make this film and improve the lives of future generations of Nepalese people.
Please help by donating today. Your check – for $5 to $500 – made out to Edge of Seven will help us tell the story of the women of Nepal. Your donations are tax-deductible and you will be receiving a receipt. Please use the enclosed stamped and addressed envelope to send your check.