"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris ... then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." Ernest Hemingway

Monday, 30 August 2010

Because i am a Girl - Proceeds go to Plan, one of the world's largest child-centred community development organisations.

I've been blown away by reading this book and just know you will be affected also if you haven't already read it. The whole concept is fresh: sending seven authors to different countries to speak to young women and girls about their lives, struggles and hope. Marie Staunton, chief executive of Plan UK had the idea that authors would be invaluabe in making victims visible. The Random House Group found writers willing to travel and see situations with a writer's keen eye, rather than the eye of a development worker.The seven writers are Marie Phillips, Kathy Lette, Joanne Harris, Irvine Welsh, Deborah Moggach, Xiaolu Guo and Tim Butcher. You will agree they are writers of some calibre. 

The Because I am a Girl (BIG) campaign aims to break the cycle of uneducated mothers giving birth much too young to underweight babies who in turn grow up to be unhealthy and uneducated. As part of the campaign, they are following a group of little girls and their families until 2015. 

Join this campaign by clicking on www.becauseiamagirl.org.

Someday I will prove that I am no less than my brothers...Rakhi, 17.

Joanne Harris is my favourite author on the list, and that may explain why I was especially taken with her style when she describes so powerfully and poetically the story of the Great North Road in Togo.

An excerpt:

One of the watchers on this road is Adjo.

In the mornings at five o'clock, when she gets up to do her chores, the road is already waiting for her; humming faintly; sheathed in mist...The road is like a crocodile; one eye open even in sleep, ready to snap at anyone foolish enough to drop their guard. Adjo never drops her guard...Until two years ago, she went to school, and the road saw her walk the other way, dressed in a white blouse and khaki skirt and carrying a parcel of books. In those days, the song of the road was different; it sang of mathematics and English and geography; of dictionaries and football matches and music and hope.


Traffickers. Such a cruel word. Adjo's mother calls them fishers of men, like Jesus and his disciples. Their river is the Great North Road; and every year, they travel north like fishermen to the spawning grounds. Every year they come away with a plentiful catch of boys and girls, many as young as twelve or thirteen...they smuggle them over the border by night...sometimes they take them over the river on rafts made of wood and plastic drums...they sell them for the price of a bicycle.

Adjo knows the road is a god, a dangerous god that must be appeased...sometimes it takes a stray child, So Adjo sings; Don't let them come, please...

The road sings a song of loneliness; of sadness and betrayal. It sings of sick children left to die along the road to Nigeria; of girls sold into prostitution; of thwarted hopes and violence and sickness and starvation and AIDS. It sings of disappointment..

There are so many gods in the land of Togo. River gods; road gods; all may be false gods. But the real power lies in the human heart; its courage; its resilience. This too is the song of the road, and through the voice of children it endures and grows more powerful every day; sinking its roots deep into the soil, sending out its seeds of change wherever the wind will take them.

Adjo knows change will not happen today. Or this year. But maybe in her lifetime -
Now that would be a thing to see, don't you think?

I hope you learned a little something new and I hope I have been inspiring enough to encourage you to buy the book and/or join the campaign.



  1. That's horrid! It's such a terrible world we live in - sometimes I wish there would be a big tsunami that would wipe out all the humans and let us start evolution all over again...

  2. wow amazing post. yes i have been affected by those words to buy the book and the campaign link is already open on my browser waiting patiently to be read. great post.

  3. That's such a great concept for a book and a cause. It brings the needs of individuals into a stark light that many of us don't even see.

  4. in the holidays...i'll read it!!!!!!


    thanks for posting!


  5. Very good post. Thanks for sharing - I will add this book to my list of books to read over the holidays!


  6. Wow! That looks really interesting.

  7. Sounds like a wonderful book. I'm going to do more research into what's going on .


  8. Alexandra: Yes, these stories are heartbreaking..:(

    miss ali: Thanks for getting on board. A great cause..:)

    Lynda: I love the concept and it seems successful..:)

    Shelly: Hi! Excellent holiday read for sure!

    Jane: Great. You'll find it riveting..:)

    Helen: It is. Hope you get to read it..:)

    Clarissa: The more research you do, the sadder it gets. But it's great to see something is well under way leading to better conditions for these girls..:)

  9. What a great cause and a wonderful way to present it.

  10. I will definitely have to buy it. It is such an incredinly good cause. Thanks for letting us know about it!

  11. This sounds like such an incredible thing to be a part of. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention!


  12. what a great book, thanks for bringing it to our attention.....

  13. Hi,

    Education is key!

    Unfortunately, as good as all these worthy campaigns are "sex education" is the least taught subject, and when it is it's ignored!

    I remember seeing a VSO worker alongside medical relief aid workers. She'd since become a celebrity and had returned to see young women saved (years beforehand) from starvation.

    She was so thrilled to return to see one particular young woman now with four cildren of her own, no husband. Sorry, but it seemed to me education had had no impact whatsoever, because here was a young girl of no more than twenty with four children.

    The irony of the story, starvation again the reason for this young woman standing at a feeding station with four extra mouths to feed!

    But, if one takes the world as a whole in terms of population Vs Food (crops grown) we are entering a phase of more mouths to feed than available food. World wide crops this year 2010 seriously affected by floods in China and Pakistan (rice/other), incessant rain in Canada (wheat/other) fires in Russia (wheat/other), and drought in Africa!

    Terrible decisions will be made on retaining harvested crops for home consumption! So Who will feed Who in the next few months, and how soon before the grain/rice stores are empty?

    Worrying prospect, because where are food aid charities to get their supplies from? We can give money, we can pray, but money without goods to buy is worthless!


  14. What a great cause to write a book about! I can't imagine life in their world. It must be awful.

  15. Thank you for featuring this important project and cause. It's pretty hard to think of kids being treated this way. If the united voices of good men and women can help, how can we not try?

    Also, thanks for visiting and following my blog. It's a pleasure meeting you.


  16. Thanks for sharing this.

    I work with an organisation in India, and would love to do something like this project with them.

  17. Thanks everyone for you comments regarding this situation. Francine thank you for your input as always. Any changes are slow because of the ingrained cultural constraints - mainly, man is god and women are worthless objects to impregnate at will then abandon to the fates. Abysmal. All we can do is help a little bit and make some sort of difference..:)

  18. What a fabulous concept and brilliant idea to help women around the world. Thank for letting me know about it!

  19. Talli, thanks, I think it's a great concept..:)

  20. Great concept! Inspirational cause for the book and also food for thought on many levels. I don't know if by a development workers view you mean a field/aid workers view? I think having writers views could probably provide a more descriptive account but I know other organisations have also posted excerpts from fieldworkers to highlight the plight of many situations in third world or crisis events and they have also been pretty raw and intense.

    Thanks so much for bringing this one to my attention.

  21. Talei, thanks for your interest. Having writers wasn't to denigrate development workers, but to provide a fresh, descriptive perspective. For example, the writing community will be exposed to something we might not have otherwise heard of..:)


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