About five years ago I had a call from a friend in Fiji, Urmila, a Red Cross volunteer I had worked with when living there. Her daughter Kajal was about to start high school and she just needed a bit of help in getting her there. It wasn’t a lot of money and I said sure, let’s do it.

We talked on and off for the next year and then during a phone call one night, she told me that there was another Girl, Shiwani, who was also struggling with staying at school and whose parents had made the decision to take her out. She had no shoes, couldn’t pay the $1 travel fare each way and was behind in her fees. But, like Kajal, Shiwani had potential to go even further than high school, she could reach for university studies and had dreams of a different future. Both of them would be the first women in their family to do so.

So we talked about how Urmila with her community networks and heart to make a difference could increase access for these Girls to get back to school and stay there. I then called a few friends I knew would be on board, registered ‘a Girl & her world’ as an NGO and we hired Urmila as our Fiji Coordinator. We also got busy fundraising!

The rest as they say, is history, last week we sent 62 Girls back to school who would otherwise not be there.

Kajal and Shiwani graduated from high school in December. Shiwani will be doing nursing and Kajal is about to start a degree in secondary education. {This gives me goosebumps just quietly, we have walked a very special journey with them}.

Our team brought Kajal to Sydney a few weeks ago, to give her that precious gift of travel, the privilege of being able to see with different eyes and be changed by experiences. She’s been to Palm beach, Manly, Luna Park, Taronga Zoo, she’s fed native birds and been caught in Sydney storms and met up with our great friends and supporters, students from the German International School.

FullSizeRender

She’s just finished teaching me how to make her mother’s amazing tomato relish and a big batch of roti, and I asked her a few questions:

Jane: What do you think your life would look like if you had left school early, what would you be doing?

Kajal: I think maybe I would just be working in a shop somewhere or maybe I would have been married early and be having babies now instead of going to university.

Jane: What are looking forward to the most about going to Uni?

Kalal: I’m excited because I’ll be able to stand on my own two feet and be independent and head towards earning my own money.

Jane: You’re studying to be a secondary physics and maths teacher, which is a four year degree, what do you think will be good about being a teacher?

Kajal: I think I’ll be able to look out for disadvantaged girls who aren’t able to school and maybe help those girls in school who need help in any way, such as those who may need extra help with their studies or those who can’t afford the extra excursion trips. Also in many rural schools, there isn’t any toilet paper or soap in the bathrooms and sometimes girls need sanitary pads, but don’t have access to them. I can help them when I am a teacher.

Jane: I have a lot of love and respect for your wonderful mum who is of course our Fiji Coordinator, tell me something you have learned from watching her in action in that role.

Kajal: I have learnt how to be strong and how to be organised and how to be an independent worker  – as well as how to be loyal and faithful to your work.

Jane: If you have a daughter one day, what would be one life lesson you would teach her?

Kajal: The things I have learnt from my mum, don’t wait for other people to make things happen for you, stand for yourself and be strong like your grandma!

We are very proud of you Kajal, Shiwani and our other 2015 graduates Dipeeka and Swastika!! The world is at your feet Girls!

Jane for team ‘a Girl & her world’

We’d love you to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Written by