lifestyle

A safe, healthy childhood with equal access to education is every girl’s right, but for millions it’s not a reality.

Plan International
Thanks to our brand partner, Plan International

They go to work while boys their age stay in school.

They go hungry while their brothers are fed.

They are subject to rape, violence and exploitation.

Why? Because they are girls.

At just 14, Len had already seen too much. Growing up in a small village on the outskirts of Siem Riep in Cambodia was not easy.

“Sometimes my family didn’t have enough to eat, and very little money,” says Len, now 19.

When Len was just eight, she was forced to leave school to go to work on a farm to help her parents earn money. Eventually, Len returned to school – but by then she’d missed out on so much schoolwork that she had to repeat the year. At 14, she left school altogether. “I wanted to study more and learn more,” she says. “I was always wishing I was back at school.”

education in developing countries
“At just 14, Len had already seen too much. Growing up in a small village on the outskirts of Siem Riep in Cambodia was not easy.” Image: Supplied.

After that, it was a life of hard labour for Len. As a young teenager, she woke at 5am and worked in a rice field for 12 long hours each day, all for a meagre $US1 a day.

At home, things went from bad to worse. Len’s father, who was an alcoholic, began to beat her and her mother. One day, Len took her few belongings and left the family home in search of a better life. Thanks to our supporters, she found it.

Sadly, girls in developing countries face unique barriers that prevent them from fulfilling their incredible potential. Poor access to education, violence, child marriage and gender discrimination are just some of the things that keep girls stuck in a life of poverty. By implementing innovative programs, and engaging in strategic advocacy, Plan International is committed to breaking down these barriers and ensuring all girls have the opportunity to learn, lead, decide and thrive.

ADVERTISEMENT

The good news is that you can help change the world for girls like Len, who enrolled in a six-month cooking course after leaving home which was run by Plan International and local partners in Cambodia. There she learned the cooking skills that became the lynchpin in her new career.

“I wanted to do the cooking training because I wanted to learn skills so that I can have a brighter future,” Len says.

Len’s training led her to an apprenticeship as a cook in the busy kitchen of a 5-star hotel. Today she works there full time and her life is completely transformed. She is independent, has a steady income of $US80 a month, and even has enough money to send home to help her parents. These days their relationship is on the mend and Len’s parents have used their money to set up a successful pig-raising business.

education in developing countries
“Len’s training led her to an apprenticeship as a cook in the busy kitchen of a 5-star hotel. Today she works there full time and her life is completely transformed.” Image: Supplied.

“The training program has changed my life,” she says.

A safe, healthy childhood with equal access to education is every girl’s right, but for millions it’s not a reality.

Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign aims to unleash the incredible potential of girls like Len, to create a better world.

The benefits are not just for them, but for everyone.

You can change the world for girls like Len. Donate today.

What kind of difference did education make in your life?

00:00 / ???