In Just Four Short Years

Our visitors we request you to support our education.  As you see, ah we are clever.  We are struggling for a better life.”  September, 2009

Number of Rescued Girls

Number of Rescued Girls

This is the opening line to a song sung to me four years ago by a group of 34 of the bravest girls I have ever met, ages 8-12.  These girls were living in a rescue center because they had refused undergo Female Genital Mutilation in preparation to be married when they were 12 or 13.  They had been ridiculed and beaten and either fled their homes or were rescued as their homes were not safe anymore.  I didn’t feel worthy to be standing on the same ground as they, knowing I wouldn’t have been as brave when I was 8 years old.

Now just four short years later, 14 of these girls are in their last month of secondary school, taking their final exams in order to graduate in less than a month and move forward once again:  forward towards the better life they sang of so profoundly just four short years ago.  And next year, more girls will take the exams and take that same step forward on to a better life – a life of their own choosing.  And on, and on, and on.  The cycle has begun.  Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Four short years ago, the future for the girls in the rescue center was not seen.  There was no evidence anything would change.  There was no girl’s secondary school in the area.  But they had faith.

Change has come to West Pokot in Kenya.  St. Elizabeth Girls Secondary School stands as a beacon of transformation.  Today, there are 248 girls at St. Elizabeth, including the 34 brave girls I met just four years ago.  At another girl’s secondary school 25 miles away, the numbers are just as remarkable.  12 girls attended St. Catherine Girls Secondary School in 2010 – now there are 217.  Taken in aggregate, hundreds of families in the area are no longer choosing to marry their girls at 12 years old – rather invest in them through education for their future and the future of their community.

In partnership with World Vision, the Global Giveback Circle http://www.globalgivebackcircle.org/  provides means for women in the developed world to mentor vulnerable secondary school girls in Kenya, including the girls attending St. Elizabeth and St. Catherine, and upon graduation help them move forward to college and university.  There are girls that want to be doctors, and biologists, and civil engineers, and journalists, and teachers, and nurses all because they were given a chance to continue to learn in secondary school.  And now, through the kindness of donor and mentors, they will go on to higher education and graduate with degrees and skills.

But the story is not done here.  You see, as the girls at St. Elizabeth and St. Catherine Girls Secondary School move forward, they are reaching their hands back to help lift up other younger girls, encouraging them to dream of a better life, providing them direction and mentorship.  These girls are role models and they know it and embrace it.  Once they graduate from college, they will come back to their community to live and work and help advance their community forward.

Cultural change is possible in four short years.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes.  Do you want to be part of this change?  If so, please consider mentoring a girl in Kenya through the Global Giveback Circle.  You, too, will then have a story to tell in just four short years.

About margoday

I have been at Microsoft for 10 years and am currently on sabbatical and personal leave for a year. I am using this time to focus my passion and energy on raising funds and awareness for the Kenya Vulnerable Girls Education Project and Child Protection, partnering with World Vision. The education project will positively affect many hundreds of girls in 5-7 areas in the Western Rift Valley of Kenya by building schools and deepening community advocacy for the education of the girl child. World Vision’s Child Protection initiative will protect over 50,000 children from exploitation as child laborers or in the sex trade. I stepped away from my responsibilities as Vice President, West Region for Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners (SMS&P) in the US after 5 years in September, 2011. In this role, I was responsible for the marketing and sale of Microsoft commercial products and services to corporate account and medium-sized business customers in the Western United States. In addition, I was responsible for ensuring the overall health of the Microsoft partner ecosystem, as well as deepening managed partner relationships in the region. I have been in the technology field for a long time, having more than 27 years of experience in high technology software sales, marketing, business development and partner/channel management. (I joke to many that I started working when I was two years old :-)). In my previous role at Microsoft, I served as Vice President of the U.S. Partner Group for five years, where I was responsible for partner strategy and program execution for Microsoft’s US partner ecosystem, managing the largest national System Integrators, ISVs, Distributors and Large Account Resellers. During my tenure I was recognized by CRN and VARBusiness as the #7 channel executive in the industry and was a frequent keynote speaker at industry channel conferences. Before joining Microsoft in 2001, I was Executive Vice President at SoftQuad Software, Ltd., and Vice President and Managing Director of Go2Net. I also spent seven years at Lotus Development Corporation in senior positions in the North American SMB Sales, Enterprise Sales, Field Marketing, and Business Partner Sales organizations. Making a difference in people’s lives is so important to me. I am a member of the Board of Advisors for the Renton/Skyway Boys and Girls Club (former board President), a Founding Board Member of SeeYourImpact (www.seeyourimpact.org) and current co-chair of the World Vision National Leadership Council for Child Protection. I am partnering with WorldVision to address issues related to girls’ education and child protection, recently completing construction of the St. Elizabeth's Secondary School for Girls in West Pokot, Kenya. I have been honored for my work on behalf of women at Microsoft, earning its 2006 Most Inspirational Woman award. I live in the Seattle, WA area and love being outdoors. I enjoys backpacking, boating, cycling, scuba diving, skiing, golf, adventure travel and, when it’s rainy outside, attending concerts and theater in addition to enjoying a great glass of wine.
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3 Responses to In Just Four Short Years

  1. Betsy Tarbell says:

    Hi Margo. have you sent the fliers for the Global project? Our meeting is next Tuesday night. If not could you send me the file and I will have some brochures made. Also Moses talked with Marie that there is a way to run money through World Vision. That needs to be cleared up prior to Tuesday night. It makes no difference to me but several ladies want to join together on one mentoring person. Betsy

  2. David Yunger says:

    Margo, this is phenomenal. Would be great to connect for coffee soon and catch up. OK if I grab a time on your calendar – perhaps for late this month or early December?

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