PenPal Schools is proud to support this important initiative. By partnering young women from around the world to learn together, we seek not only to provide girls with great learning opportunities, but also the chance to inspire one another to pursue an education. For many of the students we work with, such as Andrea from Mexico (below), having a PenPal provides an opportunity to learn and connect with a peer in a safe environment. “I learned that I can interact with other people,” she told us. “I learned a little bit of English and a lot about hope.”
PenPal Schools has now connected over 70,000 students from 168 countries. Many of these students are girls facing a variety of challenges. For example, Mr. Sungu Samnyirwa, head teacher of the Mfangano Girls Empowerment Academy in Kenya, recently wrote the following letter to our founder, Joe Troyen:
To be very sincere, we are faced with many challenges ranging from lack of facilities like laptops or desktops. Our orphaned girls cannot get an access to quality formal education, food, health facilities, guidance and counselling support. Many of their parents were crushed by the killer disease HIV / AIDS leaving the girls helpless.
Penpal Schools is counted on as a big blessing, in that our orphaned students have a chance to chat and share different ideas with friends from different parts of the world, something I believe will have a heartfelt impact and boost our efforts of training them to embrace the sense of belonging and acceptance. This programme will also help them ease off the tense feeling of rejection and pinch of poverty related ills.
Girls like Ingrid and those in Mfangano are teaching us as well as one another. Inspired by their example, we created a free course about human rights called Walking to Freedom. Students work together to learn and share their opinions on leaders like Helen Joseph and Rosa Parks. Together the PenPals then reflect on the South African expression “ubuntu,” which means, “I am because you are.” We are individuals but we are connected to each other.
Girls and their PenPals in Jordan and Afghanistan are experiencing the meaning of ubuntu. So are those in Nigeria, India, Brazil and the United States. Seeds of hope have been planted in 85% of the world’s countries thanks to a simple idea: that one of the the best ways to inspire girls all around the world to keep learning and dreaming is to connect them with one another.