I was surprised to learn that 740 women were married out of the Little World Community Organization schools since their inception two and half years ago. It had been too dangerous/crazy there for women to leave their homes and be seen by others even for purposes of marriage (that’s another topic, interesting as well). Not only now in LWCO schools can they be seen but they are also educated and attractive. Mothers with daughters journey to the schools shopping for their son’s wife. The schools are a gold mine, all twenty-nine of them. These advantages give these women the ability to be a little selective. Marriage views are quite a bit different in Pakistan than in the USA. Here family bonds are far stronger and parents choose the spouse. Marriage also in Pakistan is more important than in the USA because the family unit is the basis for survival and fulfillment. Husbands are also happy to marry educated women because they know how to contribute to the economy and success of a family. It is essential to understand and respect the complexity of a culture to be welcomed as a help.Why do we in the USA believe that men and conservative religious leaders object to women’s education and they endorse LWCO? (that’s another topic, interesting as well).
The picture is of a group of students displaying a hard earned certificate from passing a rigorous test of competency. Look closely into their eyes. I have hundreds of these pictures and videos from my recent visit to Pakistan. They were all happy to let them be taken for the first time ever because they are proud and their families are proud, and they are happy to show the world. Their lives before were beyond the worst we could imagine and now they have hope. Being there to take these pictures with the trust of these women and their communities was a priceless moment I treasure over all others. Conventional wisdom says that it is impossible to take pictures of Pakistani village women yet they felt honored and had no reluctance. Conventional wisdom also says poverty can be alleviated with money and technology. LWCO, thought, shows that poverty can be ended by planting the seed of hope and watering it with books and a little essential assistance and very little money. Why? (that’s another…….)