I'm trying to remember how I met Gret, because I think that usually makes for a good start to these kinds of stories. But I can't remember. (Gret, can you remember?)
We went to the same college - I'll start with that - and he was a part of a housing group of which I knew a little bit about. That's kind of it. We'd say hi around campus and I would constantly wonder if his name had two t's on the end or just one. Honestly, that's the extent of our friendship.
Fast forward to sometime last year when Josh asked me, "Hey, do you remember Gret Glyer from school?" He started to describe this amazing thing Gret was doing down in Malawi: building homes for people for $800 each. No, I know. For the price of - I don't know - your iPhone 6s 64GB or my coffee bill for 12 months. Real, wonderful, cement and tin homes for people that require less maintenance and are expected to last much longer than the traditional village homes.
Josh was beyond excited with what he was learning about HOWMS; he has been interested in social entrepreneurship since high school, and I maybe sort of fell in love with him the first time I heard him talking about how to help communities thrive through business. So, naturally, we started supporting Gret and his efforts to build houses in Malawi and to adopt widows in the village. You can read more about the house-building here but HOWMs includes even more than building homes. Cue Village Fridays.
I'm a people person and while I think homes are cool and completely necessary (hello, I don't want to sleep outside), I'm really interested in the day-to-day needs of a person that will impact his or her future. While Josh is thinking about how to support HOWMS, I'm reading the Village Friday website on smaller projects that impact people on the day-to-day. The projects listed include general funds for medical treatments for different children, malaria nets for the entire village, and now, a project to build a school. A school, guys. Gret believes that he can build a school with our help. And why the heck not?
Over the last few weeks, I've been thinking of how incredibly rare my life is in terms of global womanhood. My schedule is pretty full: I go to grad school full-time, I work full-time, and I'm an incredibly social person, so that takes time, you know? When I'm tempted to complain that I'm tired or overworked, I have to stop and recognize a few things. First, I am an educated woman already, and I'm working towards an advanced degree. When so many women in the world are denied basic, fundamental education, I'm complaining about my workload for my 18th year of school. Yeah, my 18th year of school out of my 26 years of living. When so many women in the world are denied access to safe jobs, I own my business and I'm able to work with some of the most amazing people on my own terms while earning a livable salary. When so many women in the world are not safe in their homes or within their communities, I can reasonably expect to wake up and be safe throughout my day. What would a Malawian woman think if she saw a 24-hour clip of my life?
Girls Shine Academy will be an all-girls school in rural Malawi working to provide the girls with a proper education so that they can attend college and radically alter the trajectory of their lives. Have you been to school? Oh good! You understand. Everything they need to start is in place: students, teachers, administration, construction plans, the land (signed off by 30 chiefs!), and supervision. They just need the money. So, that's why I'm writing this.
The school fundraising is built upon a weekly structure which you can see here under the Construction section of the Vision Document. As of right now, the project needs about $822 before tomorrow, Friday, to complete the first week for excavation. That's nothing and I mean it. I have 2.6k followers on Instagram and if each person gave $0.31, we'd be finished for the week. I can probably find $0.31 in my car that I didn't know existed, if we're being honest. So will you help? Will you help them?
When you educate a girl, you educate a nation.
Do you believe that? I do.