"Educating girls is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty." Nicholas Kristof, Half the Sky

Hello, beloved friends and family!

I am a graduating senior at The Ohio State University studying International Development and Women's Studies. I spent the Fall of 2011 studying in the Dominican Republic. While studying there, I had the chance to spend time getting to know female students and to volunteer at an NGO (non-governmental organization) that reaches out to impoverished children through a variety of programs. Through my research and time spent with Dominican girls, I recognized a glaring lack of education from a gendered perspective that leaves both boys and girls without recourse when faced with gender inequalities that permeate the culture. My goal is to raise enough money to join a fabulous NGO called Las Mariposas (The butterflies) DR Foundation in July.

Because poverty saturates nearly half of the population, access to capital is limited and poor girls bear the brunt of an unequally developing nation. According to a 2007 Dominican National Report on Health, 20% of girls over the age of 15 will experience physical violence. The study I conducted in a public primary school asked female children to identify violence (sexual, physical, mental and emotional) against women as acceptable or unacceptable. Overwhelmingly, the girls thought that rape, control, jealousy and emotional abuse were acceptable in certain situations. This is both frustrating and discouraging, but illustrative of a system that fails to meet the needs of its female citizens.

Luckily, there are ongoing efforts to include girls in the shaping of their own positive and progressive futures. The Las Mariposas DR Foundation has programs in math, reading, English, science and the environment, theatre, sports, and art all aimed at developing creativity, confidence and self-esteem as well as practical world skills. Las Mariposas and I agree that autonomy, education, and security are the rights of each female. I aim to foster relationships with these girls. Female voices deserve to be heard, not stifled by early pregnancy, early marriage, physical, sexual, emotional and mental violence, illiteracy, sweat shop labor, prejudice, racism, sexism, poor health care, and the countless other obstacles that women face. I want women to succeed, but beyond that, the world NEEDS women to succeed. Our survival, and the world's, depends on it.

By supporting my journey to the Dominican Republic, you are supporting my ongoing conversations with the women and children of developing nations. You are supporting an invaluable educational experience that fosters confidence, creativity, strong bonds between females, collective learning and experience sharing. You are supporting the work that is dear to me, and you are paving the way for me to get there. Without your ongoing support, none of this is possible. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and please feel free to ask any clarifying questions.

Donations of any kind are much appreciated in lieu of birthday presents or graduation gifts.

I have a very time sensitive goal to raise $1,600 by May 29th. Checks can be mailed, too!

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