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What is the girl effect?

The effect of empowering an adolescent girl (12-13 years old) in the developing world to go to school, learn and develop instead of having sex, having babies and perpetuating the cycle of poverty… Each educated girl has a ripple effect on her community by inspiring the girls — and boys and women and men around her.

Gandhi said, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

So my insignifiant little something, my contribution to the girl effect is this. I teach yoga to a group of twenty teenage girls here in Guatemala City who range from 12 to 18. A few of them are already mothers. One, who is 13, is six months pregnant. By her own father. Each of the girls has been rescued from human trafficking. I can’t conceive of the atrocities they’ve lived through. It’s such an honor to be able to share yoga with them. Sort of a dream come true, in fact.

Our first class, two weeks ago, was a joyous occasion, full of laughter and lightheartedness. They seemed to really get into the breathing. Some of them were a bit rowdy, especially during balancing poses, but in savasana, they were all totally still and silent. After class, many of them thanked me profusely and said how relaxed they feel. They all asked me to come back. Which I will!

In addition to teaching yoga, I have a day job as a middle school English teacher. I’m privileged with the ability to at least attempt to inspire my students, who are way at the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum from my yoga students. We focus a lot on social justice and service learning in my classroom. I first showed this captivating video to my students two years ago:

Yesterday, I shared  the Girl Effect with my current eighth graders. Here are some of their responses:

Girls have great potential, they simply need to discover it. The Girl Effect organization educates girls in poverty, to then expand their knowledge to their friends or relatives.

The Girl Effect motivates me to make a change. I could start helping children in Guatemala with simple things. I could go to a school for kids that don’t have an education and motivate them to help the world! These kids would spread the word to their friends and family, then everyone would help!

If we never try to change the world, then we will never improve on our way of life. Not only girls, but the whole world needs to try and start to make a change for themselves, and for the future of our society. The Girl Effect can help us change humanity.

Read more on Yoga Freedom. This post was inspired by Jeff Davis of Tracking Wonder and Tara Sophia Mohr’s GIrl Effect Blogging Campaign.

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Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret is a heart-centered writer, teacher and creator of Yoga Freedom. She has been a columnist on Elephant Journal since 2010  and has written and self-published several inspiring books. She incorporates yoga, dharma, hatha, yin, mindfulness, chakras, chanting, pranayama and more into her teachings and personal practice.

Join Michelle on retreat this July 20-27 at magical Lake Atitlan in Guatemala!

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anonymous Oct 8, 2011 12:25pm

Michelle – Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is great what you are doing for those girls. Giving them a sense of joy and a chance to laugh and be lighthearted is a tremendous achievement. Good luck with your classes as well, and I loved reading what they had to say in response to the videos. Thank you for promoting this great cause and for teaching young children they power they possess to share the future.

All the best and Namaste and gracias 🙂

– Bibhuti

    anonymous Oct 8, 2011 3:23pm

    Thank you for your kind comment! I'm grateful for your support. Namaste!