The Founding of GirlsHelpingGirls
Susanna Manziaris was only 15 years old when she founded GirlsHelpingGirls, a not-for-profit organization that works to raise the status of women through education. GirlsHelpingGirls began when Susanna visited a rural and marginalized community in Kenya where she helped build a school.
While there, Susanna saw the struggles that girls in the developing world face on an everyday basis, such as walking for hours to collect water or caring for multiple children—sometimes even their own. Women were not seen as valuable in their communities and were rather given menial labour. These girls did not show hope or aspiration for the future.
While on the same trip, a highlight for Susanna was visiting an all girls boarding school where young women had the opportunity for a sponsored education. The girls that attended the school were all hopeful for the future. Many of them wanted to go on to pursue careers, such as becoming doctors, journalists, and teachers. Susanna could see that these girls were going to go on and become true leaders in their families and communities.
Upon returning home from her trip Susanna saw the compelling documentary called It’s A Girl, which highlights female gendercide, the systematic killing of girls. Susanna was shocked by what she had seen and wanted to do something about this. While the producers of the documentary recommended writing in protest to governments in countries where gendercide occurs, Susanna knew that she had to do more.
She researched and learned about gendercide, and soon realized that the status of women is consistently low around the world. At that point Susanna remembered what she had seen in Kenya—how a simple education could truly change the life of a young girl. That is when Susanna made it her mission to raise awareness about gendercide as well as to create as many scholarships for young girls as she could.
Now in its second year, GirlsHelpingGirls has created a three-pronged holistic approach to girls education:
- Build schools to support a healthy and stimulating learning environment.
- Provide teachers with the proper training and resources so they can best support their students.
- Create scholarships for students to go to school.
GirlsHelpingGirls has been able to make the holistic approach a reality by building two schools in Jamaica, providing teacher training in Afghanistan, and by creating scholarships for needy girls in South Africa, Jamaica, and Kenya.
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