Go back to Chapter Four
After lunch, it was time for a new Social Studies unit that Ms. Hopewell had been vaguely hinting about for a few weeks.
“Maybe it’ll be about something fun, like music of different cultures,” Anjali said hopefully as we walked back from lunch.
“Or dance,” guessed Rory, perking up.
When we sat down in our seats, though, Ms. Hopewell turned off the lights. Startled, I looked around at Bailey. She shrugged and looked at the Smartboard, where Ms. Hopewell was starting to give a presentation.
The room hushed as she clicked the clicker and the first slide appeared.
It was a picture of a smiling girl, about our age.
“This is Tanaka,” she said. “She loves to sing and is an amazing writer.”
We looked at each other.
“But,” she said, looking around the room. “She can’t go to school, because she needs to stay home and work on her family’s farm.”
I saw Bailey cross and uncross her arms. I wiggled in my seat. Ms. Hopewell clicked the projector again. Another smiling girl appeared.
“This is Fazelah,” she said. “She wants to be a doctor when she grows up.” She paused. “Unfortunately, she isn’t allowed to go to school.”
“What?” shrieked Bailey.
“Yes,” Ms. Hopewell said. She looked around at the room. “Did you know that there are 62 million girls in the world who don’t get to go to school?”
“What?” shrieked Mackenzie.
“Lucky!” groaned Priya.
“What do you mean, Priya?” said Ms. Hopewell quietly.
Priya flushed. “Oh,” she said nervously. “I just meant, it would be kinda fun to not have to worry about homework and school and stuff. You could just play and do whatever you wanted all day long.”
“Hmm,” said Ms. Hopewell. “In some of these countries, girls don’t get to go to school because their families need them to help out at home instead. Or because there are barriers in their communities that prevent girls from getting an education, sometimes even violence. Do you think that sounds fun?”
“No,” said Priya in a small voice. “I guess we’re pretty lucky.”
“I think we are,” said Ms. Hopewell gently. “Think about what you all have learned in school since you started in kindergarten--and all the subjects and activities you’ve gotten good at and learned to love.”
She clicked her clicker again and again, flashing through pictures of girls who looked just like us.
“This girl is a dancer,” she said. I saw Rory sit up straighter. “This one wants to be a scientist.” I glanced at Maya. “This girl wants to start her own business one day.” I felt a jolt in my stomach, and I thought about Brookies’ Bracelets. “But how can they do that,” Ms. Hopewell said, looking around the room. “If they’re not allowed to go to school?”
“It’s not fair!” said Perry.
“We have to help them!” I said.
Ms. Hopewell smiled. “I agree, Cara,” she said.
“How can we do it, Ms. Hopewell?” Christopher asked.
“Well, Christopher,” she said. “There are lots of ways to help these girls. Getting information out is one way. Enabling them with tools like the Internet is another. And then we can choose to support organizations that make it their mission to empower and educate girls is a third. And that’s what we’re going to learn about today.”
We spent the rest of the class talking about You Go, Girl, an organization Ms. Hopewell volunteered for that helps girls go to school and tries to convince communities that it's okay for girls to get an education. The whole time, I was feeling guilty. Since Friday, all I’d been able to think about was how I would spend the profits from our business. I looked around and could tell that my friends were thinking the same thing. Rory’s cheeks were pink, which is always how they look when she feels bad, and Perry wasn’t even smiling a little bit. I wondered what we could do to help.
And then, I had an idea.
After the bell rang, we all stood together waiting for the bus.
“I feel bad having all this money,” Maya said, gesturing to the makeup bag. “When there are so many girls out there just like us who need so much.”
“Me too,” said Mackenzie.
“And me,” said Anjali.
“You shouldn’t,” I said firmly.
“Why?” asked Maya.
“Because,” I said. “We’re not going to keep all the profits.”
Perry cocked her head and looked at me.
“What do you mean?” said Bailey.
“We’ll keep the $2 profit,” I said. “So we keep $2 from every bracelet we sell to put back into the business, and then we give the other $2 to You Go Girl. That way we can do our part to help girls who might want to build their own business some day too.”
I paused and looked around.
“What do you think?” I said, looking at my friends.
“I love that idea,” Maya said, sighing and relaxing her shoulders.
“We have to do it,” said MacKenzie. “It’s the right thing.”
“I’ll do some research to figure out which girls need the most help,” said Rory.
I beamed at them then. “So we’re all in?” I asked.
“All in!” said Anjali and Bailey.
“Absolutely!” said Perry.
“Great!” I said, feeling better than I had since lunch. “Hands in on three, Brookies!” And I felt a thrill as my friends placed their hands on top of each other. Because we were going to use these hands and our heads to really make a difference.
Check back soon for the next chapter!
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