Friday, 29 January 2016

Malala, Used Clothes, And An Education Revolution

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Malala Yousafzai. Everyone knows her name. The girl who stands up for the right for everyone, regardless of gender, to get an education.  Now The Malala Fund is taking the message worldwide, with a little help from the most unassuming of items: a bag of used clothes.

In association with donated clothing programme Schoola, the Fund has provided students across the USA with He Named Me Malala bags. The plan: to fill those bags with lightly used clothing. Those items are resold, and the profits used to fund educational programmes across the globe.

The project has so far been a blazing success. Over 1500 filled bags have been returned to Schoola–a combined weight of 15 tons of clothing! So far, the kids of America have raised $103,000 for the Malala Fund, just by giving back some of the clothes they've either got bored with or simply outgrown.

There's an educational aspect too, of course. Information packs are sent out with the bags about the fund and its mission. By giving to The Malala Fund, students can learn about why millions of girls are not in school, and the importance of getting an education.

The reasons are manifold. Some girls have to work, or are tasked with looking after younger brothers and sisters. Some are forced into marriage at puberty. The threat of violence hangs over everything. For girls across the globe, it can be simply too dangerous to go to school. Teaching Western children and teens that something they take for granted as part of their everyday life is, for many, an unattainable dream, can be a shock that may just spark further action.

The money raised through the bags is helping to fund school programs and safe spaces for girls in Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Nigeria. It also helps Syrian refugees at risk from child marriage in Jordan and Lebanon.

Sadly, the project is currently US-only, but do read more about it here. Perhaps this is a project that could work in other Western countries, spreading the word about education for everyone–one bag of used clothes at a time.

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