By Katie Quirk, Author, A Girl Called Problem
Today, Friday, October 11th, the world is celebrating the second annual Day of the Girl Child, and I couldn’t be more excited. I have a personal stake in the growing awareness that educating and empowering girls can transform whole communities — all of us do I suppose, but my dear friend and sister, Modesta, exemplifies that notion for me in a very personal way.
I met Modesta in Tanzania in 1998. I was an American volunteer, teaching in a newly-formed university on the southern shore of Lake Victoria. Modesta was a spunky, 12-year-old girl with an infectious laugh who sold papayas and mangoes door to door. She also turned out to be the key to my survival in Tanzania.
In addition to teaching me how to speak Swahili, Modesta schooled me in village living — everything from how to carry buckets of water on my head, to how to bargain with vendors at the vegetable market, to how to rid my mattress of bedbugs. In return, I tried to do whatever I could for Modesta. I didn’t have a lot to offer — an open ear, a willingness to play with her on days when she had energy to spare after going to school, selling fruit, gathering firewood, washing her laundry by hand, cleaning dishes, carrying water…you get the picture. Continue reading Continue reading