The world’s 600 million adolescent girls have what it takes to be the innovators, artists, scientists and mentors of tomorrow. But, today, poverty, violence and lack of opportunity prevent 130 million of them from getting the education they need to reach their potential.
After her father lost his job and could no longer afford her school fees, Joyce Chisale, a 15-year-old from Malawi, was nearly forced to give up on her dreams. The poorest country in the world, Malawi sees far too many of its girls drop out due to the high cost of education, early pregnancy and child marriage.
Without a miracle, Joyce, a straight-A student, seemed destined for that very same fate. But she got a second chance when she was awarded a scholarship from The K.I.N.D. Fund, a partnership between MSNBC's Lawrence O’Donnell and UNICEF to provide schools with desks and girls with tuition.
“Without being able to go back to school, my life would have been miserable,” says Joyce, who earns the highest marks in everything from the Chichewa language to biology to history. “Maybe I would have been married, maybe I would have just stayed home with my parents.”
Now Joyce is out in the world, studying hard in hopes of being a doctor one day. She’s also a prolific poet who writes verses of encouragement to help girls who aren’t as fortunate as she find the will and a way to stay in school.
But judging from the reception she received during her visit to the U.S. this past summer, girls in Malawi aren't the only ones she's inspired to aim high. One of the stops on her tour was a Brooklyn school, where the students were transformed by the peace walk they held to raise money for the K.I.N.D. Fund.
"When I heard and saw Joyce today, I felt like Robin from Batman, because like, you know how Robin is Batman’s sidekick," said Genesis, clearly starstruck by Joyce and proud to have been able to help. "I felt like I was in the presence of a leader."