Girl power: Inspiring stories of change

Girl power: Inspiring stories of change

Each of these young women faced harsh realities that no child should have to face. But today, each of them is empowered to learn and thrive – thanks to the support of people like you. Read more about the difference you can make.

Teriano: The power of one

By the time Teriano was in year eight, there were only two girls left in her class.  

Child marriage is a tradition for the Maasai people of Kenya – and at age 13, Teriano was told by her father that she was next.

But Teriano was a sponsored child through World Vision, and she argued with her father that her sponsorship supported her education financially. That meant she was not a burden on the family, and removed the urgency of marrying her off.

With the help of World Vision, Teriano’s father relented.

Today, Teriano is the first person in her village to have obtained a postgraduate degree. She never did marry the man she was betrothed to, instead pursuing an education and a career.

But she’s never forgotten the importance of sponsorship, and now she’s an activist who helps other women to stand up for their right to a childhood and an education.  She’s proof that one person’s life can change countless others.

“It all started with one family choosing to sponsor one child. Helping that one girl, you don’t know how many other lives you can touch,” she says.   

Preeti is now in school, with the full support of her parents

Preeti: Changing a generation

When Preeti’s great-great-grandparents migrated to the city 150 years ago, they couldn’t have envisioned where the nine-year-old sponsored child would be today.

"Once I grow up, I want to improve my community," Preeti says. 

She is finishing her breakfast before she packs her books into a backpack for school. 

It’s an incredible change. Only a couple generations ago, Preeti’s family migrated so that they could survive. Now, Preeti is able to leave her house in pursuit of much more. 

Poor families like Preeti’s are more likely to marry off their daughters at a young age, knowing that they can’t afford another mouth to feed. But because someone like you sponsored her, Preeti is free to go to school. 

And she’s determined to make the most of it, jumping with gusto into her favourite subjects. She is even going to a World Vision-run remedial education centre after school to help reinforce what she’s learning.  

Now, Preeti and her family know that education can help break the hold of poverty on their lives for a new generation. “School life is a better life,” Preeti says. 

Reni: Giving comes full circle

Some children dream of being firefighters, doctors or teachers. But when Reni was a child, it was hard to dream of such high-flown careers.

It didn’t seem realistic, given she grew up in a poor orphanage in Lombok, where her mother worked as a cook. For Reni, all she thought she’d do when she grew up was get a job – any job – to support her family.

But then, when Reni was seven, she was sponsored by a Tasmanian couple – and everything changed. Suddenly, she was able to do what she’d hoped to do: gain an education.

“It definitely gave me hope for me to keep on going, to study, and to be a good kid. Knowing that someone on the other side of the world, knowing that they care about me and making me feel part of the family, knowing life is not so bad, kept me going as a student,” she said.

Reni studied hard and finished school. She then secured a job on a mine in Indonesia. In 2006, she applied for a mining job in South Australia – and got it.

Today, Reni is living and working in Australia, far from where she began. But she knows that ordinary Aussie sponsors made it possible, and she now sponsors children through World Vision herself.

Every year Varsha is in school, she’s less likely to marry early like her mother did

Varsha: Hope of safety

11-year-old Varsha walks home with her seven-year-old brother, knowing they’re returning to an almost empty house.

It’s not a safe neighbourhood. Their brick home is crumbling to the point that playing, studying – and even bathing – are done in full view of neighbours.

Leaving her children home alone leaves Varsha’s mother wracked with guilt. But what can she do? If she doesn’t work, she fears her family could starve, and her daughters like Varsha could be married off.

“While I’m working, I’m always worried about my children,” Varsha’s mother says.

But because Varsha is sponsored by someone like you, she is able to go to school - a crucial leg-up to escape poverty. It’s also a key way to escape being a teenage bride, as every year she’s in school, the less likely she is to be married off too young.

World Vision is also helping the family improve their living circumstances – for example, by building a toilet so they have some privacy.

For Varsha, life in poverty isn’t easy. But with education, there’s hope she will one day be able to lift herself out of poverty – and that hope matters.

Hnin: A true handmaid’s tale

Warning: This story contains graphic material.

Hnin fell in front of the police officers, grabbing at their trousers and pleading. What the officers didn’t know was that Hnin had been sold into slavery – twice.

Tricked by people she thought were her friends, Hnin had been sold, only realising once it was already too late. She was then assaulted by her captors, starved and forced to bear children.

In one home, she had to sleep with 10 family members to try and get pregnant. It was a nightmare that Hnin only escaped after three years – and only narrowly. 

She was eventually believed by police officers – but Hnin’s story of recovery was just beginning.

Through the support of people like you, World Vision helped Hnin testify in court and bring her traffickers to justice. We also gave enabled her to start a small business and reintegrate into her home community.

Hnin now lives with her husband and children, and dreams of giving them a better life than the past that she had to endure. But she continues to tell her story to raise awareness of trafficking – a horror that continues to ensnare hundreds of thousands of women and girls each year.

Thirteen-year-old Shyamoli shows what a strong woman looks like to her

Shyamoli: Dreaming big

Artwork covers the walls of 13-year-old Shyamoli’s home. But she didn’t always have time for art.

After Shyamoli’s mother left them, Shyamoli’s father Abdul tried to provide through pulling a rented rickshaw.

But it was a struggle to survive, and eventually, Shyamoli was forced to drop out of school to work in a bakery. Each day, her job was to pack and seal the crackers in their plastic wrap, melting wax by open flames.

"I had no other choice to send her to work," Abdul says. "I was struggling to manage money or to afford food for the family."

But with the help of supporters like you, World Vision could provide a cash grant each month to support Shyamoli’s educational expenses, and helped Abdul gain his own rickshaw, instead of renting one for work.

Now, amid the artwork, Abdul and Shyamoli have a vision board up – a reminder of their goals for their future that World Vision is supporting them to achieve.

"If this vision board is displayed here, it encourages me not to miss school any day," says Shyamoli. Now, her future can be more than she ever imagined.