Friday evening I attended a fundraiser for Africa. During that fundraiser, a video was shown about the pervasive violence against women. In that video, two boys spoke about how they were trained to perform extreme violent acts against women and girls. These boys were ripped from their families, before they were 10 years old, and forced into an army of sorts. Each of those boys, independent of each other, risking their own lives had chosen to flee. Both are now living in an orphanage far from their place of birth and separated from their families.
While each story was very personal, there were similarities. Both boys were born into poverty, uneducated (largely due to the fact that there were no schools in their village), and unsure why women were not valued. The bottom line, no amount of force could convince these children that these violent acts were okay. As each one told of their story, they had tears in their eyes, and candidly, so did I. It was hard to hear their stories. However it was good to know deep in their soul they were unable to reconcile their acts.
This is why education is so important in these developing countries. I’m sure most of the men warriors at some point felt much like these boys did. However, they lacked the courage, or however you want to define it to get away. And over time they just perpetuate the violence, because that’s part of the culture. Education is the key to breaking the cycle.
Education is the way out, the road to change. This is why we are so focused on education at Project Authenticity, not because the statistics and data prove it out…don’t get me wrong they are important. But it’s the stories of the people and how their lives have changed. It’s seeing the look in their eye as the hope comes back and they develop their voice. And it all starts in a tiny school room, a place to learn more than just facts and figures, but respect and a different way of doing things.
“School is the first step to change the world. It is always the first step that causes the most trouble, but it is the start of progress.” Mukhtar Mai, Oslo Freedom Forum April 2010