Half the Sky After-School Group Sends Three Girls to School in Nepal

Posted on July 05, 2012, by Lizzie Presser, Half the Sky Movement


When Joanna Hayes organized a Half the Sky after-school group at Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone, New Jersey, she didn’t quite know what to expect. But in just a few months time, her group of sixth grade girls has inspired the local community, raising awareness about global education as well as $900 to pay for three girls in Nepal to go to school.

Joanna decided to start the program after reading Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide last summer. Though some of the topics in the book were too advanced for her sixth grade girls, global education was one topic she knew she could explore. It proved a huge success.

Joanna's Half the Sky after-school group with the book that inspired their club


“I’ve always been very interested in women’s rights and it has been so touching to see that young girls are interested in doing something to help make girls’ lives better in other countries,” Joanna said in an interview. “We come from such a privileged area and to see them have such empathy and a greater worldview is really fantastic, even though they are only 12 years old.”

The group, comprised of 15 girls, started off discussing global education issues with material adapted from Half the Sky, GirlEffect.org, and videos from the United Nations. In recent months, they worked together to put their shared passion to action. They chose one organization -- Maggie Doyne’s Kopila Valley School in Nepal -- and designed posters, distributed information packets about their cause, and held a breakfast fundraiser in the hopes that they could support the education, housing and meal plan of one girl. They reached their goal and tripled it.

“We were so surprised by the kind of support we got from [Gill St. Bernard’s] school. They were clearly very inspired by the work that the club had done. It was a very positive thing to see the kids coming in bringing in their allowance, their piggy banks. It blew my mind,” said Joanna.

Joanna had planned to keep the class limited to sixth grade girls only. But now, the group’s enthusiasm is hard to contain. Before the girls graduated the sixth grade, they begged Joanna to keep them involved and Joanna had trouble saying no. Next year, Joanna says, the seventh grade girls will teach the sixth grade girls and act as mentors. “It was a huge success,” Joanna concluded. “Not just with fundraising and raising awareness but with the girls in my club -- they absolutely loved it."


To support the education of students at the Kopila Valley School in Nepal, check out their website.


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Letter from Joanna's Half the Sky club to the girls at Kopila Valley School in Nepal.