RACHAEL YOUNG

This blog is my attempt to connect you with a much larger story than that of a blond law graduate with a penchant for solo travel. I hope to connect you with an idea – that educating a girl is a catalyst for change. If that phrase resonates with you, then I invite you to read on, for you are a fellow change maker.

Speaking of a girl who gets a kick out of independent adventuring… I’m Rachael. I am 22 years old (young enough to still have stars in my eyes). I can comfortably say I am amongst the most educated of women in the world. Not because I’m an Athena in academia (although I do write a killer essay). It is because many women around the world do not receive an education, or if they do it is limited in length, scope and quality. I grew up in a rural, remote town of the Kimberly’s. I was a sassy, perpetually dirty child who read a lot of books.

I was also the key child witness in a criminal trial for sexual assault. My fear, shame and confusion over what I had seen rendered me voiceless. The criminal justice system is not designed with such a child in mind. I did not speak of my experience until years later. In fact, it was not until the Mama Hope boot camp in Atlanta last month that I spoke of this with (what were then) strangers.

Following this childhood experience, I was blessed by a thorough education, something girls all over the world do not receive. This rebuilt my self-confidence and sense of identity. I found my voice. I will never again be silenced, marginalised or disregarded.

Education gave me this gift.  Education took me to Queensland, where I received a scholarship to study law and international relations. Education allowed me to go on exchanges to New Zealand and London. Education let me compete all over the world, and intern at one of my dream institutions, Westminster Parliament.

Education empowered me, and allowed me to indulge my wanderlust. I was born to a father who believed in educating his daughters. I was born in a county that legally required me to attend school. I was lucky. Education should never hinge on luck. It is the birth right of every single man, woman and child. Each child has unlimited potential, and when educated the paths before them are ripe with opportunity. Without education, that potential is stifled by illiteracy and innumeracy. By denying a child education, we are denying them the right to participate in the 21st century.

On that note, I turn to Mama Hope. Mama Hope is an American not-for-profit with a business model that has created a demonstrable impact in African communities. For Mama Hope, development is about Stop the Pity – Unlock the Potential. Aid has arguably proven an ineffectual method with which the world fights poverty, especially in the African context. Mama Hope connects resources with inspiring local entrepreneurs to achieve their visions of prosperous communities. It’s about empowering people who understand the complexities of the issues affecting their communities on a micro scale.

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