By Iram Shah
On this day, the Fourth of July, we Americans celebrate our freedom with a sense of pride and much fanfare. We sometimes forget the abundant rights and privileges we have here: freedom of speech, education, equality and much more. Though far from perfect, America is still one of the places where you can live your dream. It is “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Sonia was born in Chicago and lived a big part of her life in Europe, but was always grateful for the privileges she had as an American. She was also acutely conscious of the absence of these privileges in some parts of the world, especially in Pakistan.
Education is a great equalizer and a fundamental part of the American Dream, and Sonia wanted that for all girls.
In her blog she wrote:
“I just wanted to take the time to talk a little bit about why I feel that supporting education for girls in Pakistan is such an integral part of Pakistan’s movement towards stability and development, especially at a time when both seem so unlikely. … The poorest Pakistani families often go to great lengths to ensure that they can afford to send their sons to school, but rarely do the same for their daughters. Poor mothers need their daughters to help them at home, and poor fathers can rarely afford to even feed and clothe their children properly, and so view a daughter’s tuition fees as an unnecessary expenditure.
“These uneducated girls are then made dependent on their male relatives, perpetuating a cycle of destitution in a country [where] 24 percent of its 170 million people live below the poverty line.
“Educating a girl can aid in the development and improvement of her entire family and even her entire community, and will stabilize a nation rocked by ignorance and hardship. It is now becoming even more important to continue to fund and support girls’ schools, as the Taliban has destroyed over 400 schools in the Swat Valley and tribal regions, and have targeted girls’ schools in particular. With tens of thousands of children left without a school and a government unable to rebuild schools quickly, I believe that it is essential to reach out to and educate as many girls as we can.”
Sonia’s dream to change the world one girl at a time is alive and progressing. We should never give up on our daughters and the future they can create for us.
Happy Fourth of July!