This week, I am pre-publishing the “master” copy of a true labor of love — a picture book that tells the stories and shows the pictures of the visions and accomplishments of a group of extraordinary girls and their families in rural Uganda.
Who Should Read This Book? My goal is that this book (or subsequent leaner versions thereof) will find its way into the hands of kids, teachers, and parents all over the world. As they learn about the journeys of the Ugandan girls, I’m hoping they’ll contribute their own stories and pictures about their journeys and their successes in improving their own lives and the lives of their families and their communities. We plan to launch a Web site that will encourage kids to post their own pictures and stories.
About This Book. This book was written and illustrated by the girls themselves. My role was midwife, curator, and editor. These remarkable young women tell the stories about how they’ve become role models and change agents and produced dramatic results in the lives of their families and their communities. They’ve done all of this in a culture in which girls are under-appreciated, under-educated, and marginalized. And, in doing so, they’ve earned the respect and admiration of village leaders, their families, and their peers.
What I like about the book is that, even though it focuses on the girls’ own stories, the structure of the URDT Girls’ School’s unique and innovative curriculum comes through. You watch as the girls learn, teach, and empower their families and their communities to improve sanitation, nutrition, income, and create peace and prosperity in their homes and villages. They do this by creating and actualizing shared visions through leadership, learning by doing, teaching their parents, and by mobilizing their families in home improvement and income-generation projects. They hone their communication skills by debating, producing radio programs, writing, producing, and delivering plays at community crossroads, and by teaching, sensitizing, and mobilizing people in their communities. I believe that the structure and principles of the ecosystem that URDT has created to empower and support these girls and their families can and should be replicated in other parts of the world — with boys as well as girls; in urban, as well as rural settings; in different cultures.