I guess you don’t know ‘til you know, right? Those of us who scroll our Twitter or IG feeds think we’re up to date and fully informed about everything. The truth is so many times we only know a fraction of the truth. We hashtag something before doing research and feel good, because we think we’re making a difference.
I was humbled recently. I found myself in conversation with friends in the non-profit sector. During our short dialogue, I was shocked by my ignorance of what it takes to bring about minimal change.
As we chatted, the conversation led to a recollection of a recent field visit to Ghana. Unfortunately, though arranged marriages to minors are illegal in that country, the practice continues within many communities. And, I’m not talking about the arranged marriages you see fictionalized on TV where a woman is upset she doesn’t get to marry the man she truly loves. The reality is far worse.
In real life, 13-year-old girls are promised to 60-year-old men. In real life, teenage girls are taken out of school, forcibly married and impregnated by men who may have multiple wives. In some instances, rebel armies such as Boko Haram invade communities and insist on marrying the girls. By insist, I mean they kill the parents who won’t give their children away. Imagine how I felt hearing these stories while my 14-year-old daughter was sitting comfortably in her Toronto classroom. Shock is an understatement.
Equally surprising was learning CCFC, a Canadian-based charity, intervenes in similar situations. I heard the story of a girl they saved in Ghana from being unlawfully married. Local staff and partners sat with the family in their home, explaining why the girl had a right to finish school and should not be forcibly married. When the situation didn’t improve for the long-term, CCFC (with the parents’ permission) moved the girl hundreds of kilometres away to safely attend school instead of being married.
I don’t consider myself ignorant. I’d like to think I’m knowledgeable about global affairs. But, I would be lying if I told you I knew a not-for-profit group based in Canada was sending local workers to sit with a family in a rural village and take practical steps to help a child. I just didn’t know. Now I do, and now you do as well.
These people save lives. Not just in a conceptual way. These are the people on the ground while we hashtag. They are the ones resolving injustices we protest the few times a year a conflict sparks our curiosity. These are not “talk-the-talk” people. They are walking in the trenches to make the world a better place, and it’s freaking hard work.
Maybe I can’t do what they do, but I can support them in their efforts. I can write, I can spread the word and I can donate.
You can do the same. More than ever before, we have resources at our fingertips; we can make our single voices heard. Staying silent to atrocities or causes you believe in shouldn’t be an option. If you can’t find the strength to make your voice heard, support the groups who can. You’ll be surprised how far they go to make a difference.
CCFC is one group working to make positive change in the lives of tens of thousands of children, their families and their communities. Find out how you can help children — who just happened to be born into poverty — be safe to grow, laugh, learn and play so they can reach their full potential.
Now you know. So what will you do?