The Because I am a Girl (BIG) campaign aims to break the cycle of uneducated mothers giving birth much too young to underweight babies who in turn grow up to be unhealthy and uneducated. As part of the campaign, they are following a group of little girls and their families until 2015.
Join this campaign by clicking on www.becauseiamagirl.org.
Joanne Harris is my favourite author on the list, and that may explain why I was especially taken with her style when she describes so powerfully and poetically the story of the Great North Road in Togo.
One of the watchers on this road is Adjo.
In the mornings at five o'clock, when she gets up to do her chores, the road is already waiting for her; humming faintly; sheathed in mist...The road is like a crocodile; one eye open even in sleep, ready to snap at anyone foolish enough to drop their guard. Adjo never drops her guard...Until two years ago, she went to school, and the road saw her walk the other way, dressed in a white blouse and khaki skirt and carrying a parcel of books. In those days, the song of the road was different; it sang of mathematics and English and geography; of dictionaries and football matches and music and hope.
Traffickers. Such a cruel word. Adjo's mother calls them fishers of men, like Jesus and his disciples. Their river is the Great North Road; and every year, they travel north like fishermen to the spawning grounds. Every year they come away with a plentiful catch of boys and girls, many as young as twelve or thirteen...they smuggle them over the border by night...sometimes they take them over the river on rafts made of wood and plastic drums...they sell them for the price of a bicycle.
Adjo knows the road is a god, a dangerous god that must be appeased...sometimes it takes a stray child, So Adjo sings; Don't let them come, please...
The road sings a song of loneliness; of sadness and betrayal. It sings of sick children left to die along the road to Nigeria; of girls sold into prostitution; of thwarted hopes and violence and sickness and starvation and AIDS. It sings of disappointment..
There are so many gods in the land of Togo. River gods; road gods; all may be false gods. But the real power lies in the human heart; its courage; its resilience. This too is the song of the road, and through the voice of children it endures and grows more powerful every day; sinking its roots deep into the soil, sending out its seeds of change wherever the wind will take them.
Adjo knows change will not happen today. Or this year. But maybe in her lifetime -
Now that would be a thing to see, don't you think?
I hope you learned a little something new and I hope I have been inspiring enough to encourage you to buy the book and/or join the campaign.