Yesterday marked the International Day of the Girl. It’s a day to focus on girls, and issues that they are facing around the world. It’s easy to see girls as vulnerable and in need of protection but we can also see them as powerful members of their communities. Research tells us that when girls are educated, their whole communities are impacted. We can acknowledge the challenges, but also celebrate the victories.
Here in El Salvador, girls are facing overwhelming obstacles. Many of the girls we work with have experienced the very worst that life has to offer in the very short time that they have been on this earth. Some have been trafficked, others abused and neglected. Many of them live in fear. The situation created by gangs and poverty in the country has left many girls in a position where they have much to lose, and very few resources.
This article has been popping up around the internet, and I think it’s worth a read to understand the unique challenges that our girls face. We know girls who have experienced the fear and dread of being targeted by a gang leader as a “girlfriend” and we know the impossible web that these girls can become entangled in. Many of our girls have been raped, manipulated, and exploited through these relationships.
But we have also seen those girls rise above the despair and abuse that has dragged them down as children. We have seen hope, and we have seen them take on the challenge of building a new life. Some of the strongest, fiercest Salvadorans I have ever met have been our girls. They are raising children born to them when they were still children themselves, they are starting businesses, they are making decisions, and they are moving forward.
These girls are on a mission for more…these girls will not be overcome.
So as we think about girls around the world this week, I ask you to think about the girls in El Salvador who are hiding indoors. I ask you to think about the girls here who are afraid to be noticed by the wrong guy. I ask you to think about girls who have suffered abuse, and lived the horror of being bought and sold. As you are thinking, I ask you to pray for the girls in El Salvador still at risk, and I ask you to pray for our girls who are making a way forward.