* All names in this post have been changed
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
~ Nelson Mandela
I first discovered the healing power of words during my tween years. As hormones began to swirl and adolescent concerns loomed large, books became a secure haven for me.
Between the worn and creased paperback covers of Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, and many other titles I traveled beyond my minor childlike burdens and found my feet firmly planted in a dream world where anything seemed possible.
Great thinkers since the dawn of time have discussed education’s ability to nurture, develop, and restore. Through inspiring words, minds find freedom and grow to new levels.
Some of our families begin homeschooling in need of a healing education. Maybe our children have suffered in an environment of stress–where love of learning has evaporated due to pressure to perform. Or perhaps we recognize a curious spirit in our little ones, and want to do all we can to kindle that curiosity instead of deaden it.
But for thousands of children around the world, education’s nurturing potential goes far beyond even these important concerns.
It can mean the difference between literal slavery or freedom, no possibility or a future, feeling like you have no worth or knowing that you matter.
“We hope to recruit you to join an incipient movement to emancipate women and fight global poverty by unlocking women’s power as economic catalysts. That is the process under way – not a drama of victimization but of empowerment, the kind that transforms bubbly teenage girls from brothel slaves into successful businesswomen.
This is a story of transformation. It is change that is already taking place, and change that can accelerate if you’ll just open your heart and join in.”
~ Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
Education’s power has weighed heavy on my mind since last weekend–when my daughter Trishna and I spent a precious visit with survivors of child trafficking and exploitation here in the Philippines.
Girls like Sonya, age seven, whose sweet giggle and shy smile make the atrocities that have happened in her short life unimaginable. She peeked around the corner at us nervously at first, then slowly warmed up as Trishna sat down and helped herself to the art supplies and stacks of paper in the safehome.
Trishna (in the black shirt) was thrilled to have an eager audience watching her draw
After a few awkward moments several girls gathered around, united in the universal language of paper and crayons. Surprised and touched, I slowly realized that all their drawings were gifts for us–treasures we’ll keep to remember this special time.
As I mentioned last week, my husband serves as the CEO of Love146, an organization working toward the abolition of child trafficking and exploitation. Though Steve travels regularly to this side of the world and beyond, it’s our first time experiencing and processing his work as a family unit.
The nine girls we had the honor of meeting live at Love146’s Round Home–a haven far away from the noise and threat of the city’s dangers. It’s a peaceful, quiet place designed in a literal circle–without corners or sharp edges so the girls feel safe.
A therapy tree house with stuffed animals and toys invites them to rediscover play as they process trauma and darkness most of us can’t even begin to understand.
the Round Home is the building on the right
Education also plays a important role in the girls’ recovery. During our visit I chatted with Cecily, age 15, about her schooling. She expressed embarrassment over getting a “late start” to learning. My heart went out to her as I tried with limited words and time to convey that it’s okay, it’s never late to learn.
Just as we make individual decisions about our own children’s learning, the trained staff of the Round Home–intimate with each girl’s personality and background–decide what path her education should take. For some, a local school meets their needs.
But for many, homeschooling is the best answer, allowing freedom to penetrate hearts and souls while learning takes place. There was both surprise and excitement among the girls I spoke with when I told them that in the US our family also learns at home.
“Storytellers should be aware that they are dealing with dangerous materials. Life and death flow to us through stories. Words have almost unlimited power to destroy and to heal. More lives have been destroyed by words than by bullets, and more lives redeemed and made whole.”
~ Daniel Taylor, Tell Me a Story: The Life-Shaping Power of Our Stories
The therapy tree house–incredible, right?! The entrance to the Round Home is behind it
After a tour of the Round Home garden where they grow veggies to eat and sell (I appreciated that they cut the tour short “because of the snakes back there” (!), two girls invited me to see their home study room–a space, like all of the building, carefully crafted with love and thought.
A few desks in the corner can be pulled out for learning times and a few shelves holds the modules and lessons the students are currently working on.
Only one thing was missing that every homeschool room needs:
And that’s where we come in.
Through partnership with Love146 our online homeschooling community can raise enough funds this month for a library of K-12 living books: life-giving stories of trials and triumphs, of evil and those who overcome it–words that inspire, nurture, and heal.
These young, courageous survivors need to know that they can sow seeds of change for themselves and future generations. These girls have heard that they don’t matter, that they have little worth.
They now live in a safe place where they may be hearing Truth for the first time. Knowing as we do the power of the words we read, I believe books can aid in their recovery.
Would your family consider donating enough to purchase one book for this new home library?
All the money we raise will go toward the education fund for the Round Home. (Watch a short video about the Round Home here.)
Any funds that come in beyond what is needed for books will go toward the other important costs for the girls’ education: school supplies, uniforms for those who attend a local school, salaries for safehome tutors, and so on. It only takes $10,000 to fund the education budget of the Round Home for a whole year.
(Note: We won’t be accepting book donations; it’s less complicated and cheaper for me to buy and deliver the books while we’re actually here in the Philippines.)
This month as many of us think about back to school, let’s give generously so others can experience a healing, nurturing home education as well.
Ariel, Cecily, Claudia, Emilia, Gabriele, Nancy, Jinny, Sonya, Camila, and all those who come here in the future for restoration thank you…and so do I.
Donations can be given securely by clicking here. As a community we can track the amount we’ve raised, and if your family would like to get more involved you can set up your own mini-fundraiser with a separate page to track your own giving toward this project.
“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do.”
~ Helen Keller
I have the beautiful task this month of creating a list of inspiring books to fill the Round Home library. What titles do you think we should include?
Rachel at Stitched in Color
Jamie, So glad you are sharing this here. I’d love to be involved and to hear more often about your husband’s work. After reading Half the Sky earlier this year, I have been thinking much about how to make a difference. As an aside, do you know if the Round Home would be in need of some beautiful, handmade bedding for the girls? I am the modern quilter at StitchedinColor and I have been looking for a children’s home on whose behalf to do a quilt-drive. I could have as many quilts made as desired and could even individualize them if desired with girls’ names. If this is a fit, I would also be able to share this book drive at the same time for folks who would like to contribute monetarily. Please be in touch if this is of interest!
Rachel at Stitched in Color’s latest post: what I think now
Thank you so much, Rachel! I don’t think there is a need for bedding at the moment, but I’ll get in touch if that changes.
Caroline Starr Rose
Oh, Jamie. I’m sitting here thinking how beautifully this experience has all come together. What an opportunity for your whole family. What could be more you than to share books? I am so glad your three can see what Steve is doing when he travels and can live for a few weeks the organization that shapes your world.
Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: Why We Read
I know, right? It has all come together so perfectly.
I am wondering what types of books will be purchased? American Classics? Classics from their own part of the world? Will any religious texts be purchased, and if so, from what religion? Nonfiction?
Can I suggest a couple of books? We’re a home educated family, too, and while we do immerse ourselves in the classics, we also indulge in some books that fall off that beaten path. We’ve recently listened to the Museum of Thieves trilogy by Liam Tanner which has a great, strong little girl as the main character. She takes on the whole social structure in her post-apocolyptic world and changes it for the better. We also loved the Wee Free Men series by Terry Pratchet. They are a hilarious read and also have a strong girl as the main character. She prides herself on being intelligent and goes on adventures with the rowdy mythical “wee free men” to save a prince and take charge of her own destiny. These two series are both well written and fun to read. We enjoyed them!
Thank you so much for all you do to change the destinies of these little girls. I hope they truly love their new library! I’m proud to donate to such a great cause.
Thanks for all these great suggestions and for your support, Branda!
I would recommend the YA novel Trafficked by Kim Purcell – sounds like it could be an interesting topic for these girls.
What a great cause!
What a beautiful thing that you get to pick books for these children. I am just so glad to hear about this project. I can imagine it would be a difficult decision though to choose! In my thoughts I think of many books that have shaped my own life, but then I wonder how appropriate they would be for these girls, as they are in another culture, and obviously have had different and difficult life experiences. However, the one thing I thought of was that we can all relate to nature. These children might also have not had a lot of experience with being shown nature. I don’t have specific titles in mind, but I think that some of the books should be nature-focused. Picture books with nature themes can be very healing and beneficial even for older children. I know even as an adult I enjoy picture books of the “living book” quality. Also perhaps some poetry. Poetry speaks to people on so many levels and can be quite healing.
I would highly recommend the Country Bunny and the golden shoes -not at home, that is appox the title :). A great story to empower any girl or woman! I used to pour over the illustrations as a little one, and look forward to reading it to my daughter.
Jamie, it is very inspiring to see you digging in to this work with your kids in tow. What an amazing place for these girls! The space and the work that is being done there is beautiful. As for books, I really loved Clare Vanderpool’s Moon Over Manifest and Kit Pearson’s ‘Awake and Dreaming’. Also check out Jane Yolen’s ‘Not One Damsel In Distress’
We were blessed with an older version of Sonlight’s K core curriculum for our oldest daughter. Our favorite part has been the books. You’ll have to determine the appropriateness for the selected audience, as what touches our life experiences might not have the same impact on children who have experienced things no one ever should have to. But some of our favorites include: Granny Han’s Breakfast, 100 Dresses, The Lighthouse at Tern Rock, and The Family Under the Bridge.
Thanks for sharing with us.
I would love to hear how you explain what your husband does to your children. What did Trishna know of the girls in the Round house? Was anything explained to her?
Because of the busyness of summer, I haven’t commented on these posts dealing with Love 146 and your family’s work there, but I have read them and just wanted to say how totally great it is. I’ve been aware of Love 146 for several years but it’s so nice to put a familiar face with it! I love the work you’re doing and how you are involving your family. May all your endeavors be blessed.
Thank you so much for sharing your family’s work with Love 146. There are so many issues in the world that deserve our attention and righteous fury, but child trafficking trumps them all for me. I just can’t imagine anything worse. I read through the Love 146 site, and it makes me so hopeful to think of those children receiving love, education, and healing after their experiences. God bless the work you all are doing. Abolition, nothing less. Love love love. – Annie
Child trafficking breaks my heart into a million pieces. As a family, we are raising funds for child soldiers. I look at my 3 girls and I’m torn apart thinking about the boys and girls who are forced to such an evil and deplorable life. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to these precious children.
I see you’ve already reached your $10000 goal. Wonderful. I just wanted to let you know that we’re having a garage sale this weekend and my kids are donating half of the money they make from selling their books to the Round Home.
Yes, you have absolutely right education has the ability to develop, nurture, and restore. Education is the only thing in the world which brings out ourselves and shows to the world with a special success.
Ashley’s latest post: Going Up on Main Street with Your High School Diploma