We are constantly in awe of the women and girls we work with all over the world. Here are just a few of the girls who blew us away with their strength, resourcefulness and indomitable spirits this year. If these girls are our future, then the future is in good hands.
1.Sadia Khushi, Future Police Academy Graduate
Twelve-year-old Sadia Khushi is the youngest of her siblings, but she is the only one who will have the opportunity to finish school. Half of the girls in her community in Bangladesh never get to go to school at all. But Sadia, an avid student, said she likes English class the most. “It is easy to read for me,” she said. “And if I learn English, it’s easy to know about the world. It’s better for conversations with foreigners, and it’s easier to get a job.”
When asked what she wants for Sadia’s future, her mother Joynob Begum said, “My plan for her is to work as a schoolteacher when she grows up.” But when Sadia quickly chimed in with “Police officer!” her mother smiled and said, “I want my daughter to be a police officer, because that’s what she wants to be.”
2.The Fin-tastic Fish Robotics Team
The Fin-tastic Fish LEGO® Robotics Team are using their mad science skills for good. Fourth graders Ellie Grace, Lena Larson, Brianna Williams, Greta Babbitt and Nicole Williams from Albany, Oregon, named their team the Fin-tastic Fish for the water-inspired FIRST LEGO® League competition season.
Thousands of students and teachers worldwide participate in FIRST, or For Inspiration and Innovation in Science and Technology, programs each year with a focus on STEM principles.
For the 2017-18 school year, teams were challenged to develop a research question on hydro-dynamics. With an all-girl delegation, the Fin-tastic Fish asked how girls in developing countries might use micro-hydroelectric water power to improve their quality of life.
“Our team decided to design a real-world project and innovative solution that people — girls like us — could actually use to improve their lives,” Lena Larson said.
To create a solution, the girls designed, built and programmed an autonomous robot using LEGO bricks. When placed in a small stream, the water current powers the robot to recharge batteries and small LED lights, which are safer to use than candles with open flames.
3.Florinda Ruiz Lopez, Gardening Expert
If you ask, 5-year-old Florinda Ruiz Lopez will tell you all about how to plant a seed and water it. "Then, when you've finished with the water, when you look at the plant, it grows really fast, but it's really little." And, as she talks faster and faster, she'll tell you about the grasshoppers and locusts that eat the leaves of the gourd plants. Not to mention all about how some garden pests turn into butterflies, and how she and her mother plant lettuce, tomatoes, aromatics and all kinds of other plants together.
Florinda is a precocious member of a classroom in Santa Ana, Mexico that is focusing on teaching young students the foundations of a healthy diet. If Florinda is any indication, it's working. She and her classmates are eating up the lessons, and she is sure to be a gardening star soon enough.
4.Izabela, Big Sister Extraordinaire
Izabela Sambanae has always taken good care of her baby brother Musa, even when she barely had the energy to do so. But now, thanks a daily dose of milk, Izabela has enough muscle and zest to care for Musa and tend to her own future, too. Trudging up the hill to Itunduma Primary used to be too overwhelming of a chore for Izabela. Like many in the region, Izabela’s farming family is limited to a carbohydrate-heavy diet of sweet potatoes and corn that simply can’t provide the nutrients a growing girl needs thrive. Many days Izabela slept late or missed school altogether because she didn’t have the energy to walk the half mile up the hill to class. That all changed when Heifer International teamed up with local dairy farmers to offer a daily helping of milk to Izabela and other Itunduma students. The extra protein and calories were enough to boost Izabela’s health, and her school grades, too.
5.Rashmi Nandan Kisku, Biker
Rashmi Nandan Kisku,18, caused a stir in the remote village of Sauntha, India, when she started pedaling around town on a bicycle. She was the first girl in town to ride a bike. Many in Sauntha disapproved and approached her mother, Lakshmi Kisku, to tell her so. But Lakshmi stood by Rashmi. "I want her to ride a bicycle," she said. "Why should we be behind anyone?"