Christmas gifts that can change a woman's life

Send a girl to school for a year with CARE Australia

Imagine your daughter or yourself as a little girl, spending hours every day walking to collect water, food and firewood. Imagine watching as your brothers attend school, while you have to stay at home to cook and care for your siblings. For millions of girls around the world, every morning they wake to this harsh reality.

Imagine you can help change their lives. You can.

CARE Australia is an international humanitarian aid organisation fighting global poverty by focusing on women and girls.

This Christmas, CARE Australia is urging shoppers to consider giving friends and family a CAREgift that can make a lasting impact on a woman or girl’s life.

$50 can train and equip a birth attendant to ensure a baby’s safe delivery into the world.

$69 can send a girl to school for a year and provide her with everything she needs including a uniform, school books and stationary.

$100 can help a woman start a small business and fulfil her dream of earning her own income.

Educated girls are more likely to grow up healthy and are:

– Less likely to die in childbirth

– More likely to have healthy babies

– More likely to send her children to school, and

– Better able to protect her children and herself from HIV/AIDS, trafficking and sexual exploitation.

This is Fidelia Soares and her daughter, Augustina*.  Fidelia is a mother-of-six and participant in CARE’s Young Women Young Nation program in Timor-Leste (East Timor).

Fidelia Soares and her daughter. Photo: Josh Estey/CARE

In a country where one third of the population experiences food shortages and hunger, it is often difficult for families to balance the need for food with the importance of education.

While primary school is free, the cost of school books and uniforms is often prohibitively high for families who survive on subsistence farming alone.

However, for Fidelia, sending her children to school was as important as buying food.

She said: ‘I did not get an education, so I know that it is so important for my children to go to school – especially the girls.’

This is why CARE is working to increase the value of girls’ education in communities in Timor-Leste, and removing the barriers that prevent girls from going to school and ensuring that they don’t drop out.

The program also works with parents like Fidelia to explain the importance of sending their girls to school.

Despite being the sole breadwinner, Fidelia is determined that all of her children will have an education, and works hard to make her dream a reality.

Once in school, the girls are encouraged through the introduction of activities like traditional dancing, singing and sport to help them build their confidence.

CARE has also produced a book featuring positive female role models and stories to which girls can relate and aspire to.

Augustina* is in grade six and enjoys all of the activities she is involved in.

‘I have read CARE’s book “My Dream”, I liked it because the stories inspired me and motivated me to become like the person in the story. I would like to be a journalist when I finish school…maybe I could write these books one day,’ she said.

*CARE is a child-safe organisation, names of children are changed.

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