I’m a girl, but I have dreams.

Today is the International Day of the Girl Child, a day to promote the rights of girls and speak out against the injustices they face. Many girls around the world aren’t able to dream or plan for their future because they are denied education and married off young. But Compassion’s church partners around the world are helping girls get an education and speaking up for them when they face injustice.

Here are just a few of the girls dreaming big, despite their circumstances.

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“In my village a few women died while delivering and I want to change this. I want to become a midwife and help women.”

– Mouzorata, a 16-year-old from a village in Burkina Faso where few girls are sent to school.

Lizbeth with her siblings

“Some teenagers have the opportunity to study but are not committed to take it, and others do not get the opportunity because there are not enough resources at home to study. That is why I am resolved to do well.”

– Lizbeth, a 14-year-old who hopes to become a nurse or teacher. She’s from Donato Guerra, Mexico, where girls aren’t often educated because they are expected to marry as young as 12, and where only a third of indigenous children get an education.

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“My three sisters have such big dreams. Purity wants to be a doctor, not for people but for animals. Virginia wants to be lawyer. She’s a natural because she never loses in an argument. Hellen still doesn’t know what she wants to be. But she’s my favourite sibling, maybe because I can play the big sister role with her. She adores me and does not mess my stuff up.”

– Ruth, a 13-year-old who wants to be an electrical engineer. She’s from the Maasai tribe in Kenya, in which many girls face genital mutilation between 11 and 13 and then face marriage.

Braving the Odds

“[My childhood friends] are all married now and raising their children. I was saved from marriage, because the centre backed me to pursue my dream.”

– Sampatya (centre), a 16-year-old from a remote town in Bihar, India, whose parents decided not to marry her off at 14 after her Compassion tutor intervened. She hopes to become a teacher who advocates for marginalized children’s rights.

Dora, a Maasai Youth

“Without this awareness there was a huge possibility of us getting married at a very young age.”

– Dora, a 15-year-old Maasai girl from a large, polygamous family in Tanzania who wants to become a pilot. Often the heads of polygamous families choose not to educate their children, but instead expect the boys to tend the family’s animals and the girls to tend the home and marry young. But Dora’s father agreed to educate all his daughters once the Compassion centre helped him understand the importance of education for girls.

Field reporting by Serge Ismael Ouedraogo and Jehojakim Sangare, Compassion Burkina Faso, Cesiah Magaña, Compassion Mexico, Silas Irungu, Compassion Kenya, Provashish Dutta, Compassion East India, and Charles Ngowi, Compassion Tanzania

Written by: Amber Van Schooneveld

Amber Van Schooneveld is the Editorial and Content Development Lead for Compassion Canada. She loves donuts, the mountains, travel, and connecting people around the world to end poverty.