Power of One: Helping girls, one school at a time
Wanda Bedard was so moved by the story of an Afghan girl who was sold to a war lord– she knew she had to take action.
"The fact that there was a price tag attached to her life…I was so upset," she said.
When the Montreal resident told her daughter how distraught she was, her daughter asked an important question.
"She said, ‘Well, mom, what are you going to do about it?'," Bedard said.
Four years later, came her answer.
60 Million Girls
Bedard established 60 Million Girls, a volunteer-run organization that works in countries with the greatest gender inequalities.
Its mission is to keep girls in school.
It does so by raising money for projects that will help ease a family's financial stress.
It's goal is to fund two major education projects each year.
For example, 60 Million Girls has paid for lunch programs and the installation of water pumps at schools.
With such things in place, it's hoped parents will send their daughters to the classroom, instead of sending them to work.
For example, many girls spend their days fetching water or cooking, Bedard said.
To make it all happen, the mother of two draws on her own business experience.
Value in potential
She knows to use all of her resources – and says many third world countries ignore one of their biggest strengths -- women.
"If I only train half of my employees my business won't succeed. A country can't succeed if it forgets about fifty percent of its population. But even beyond that to me it's the potential that's lost," she said.
Lyne Depatie also helps with 60 Million Girls.
She said it's reminded her of how fortunate she is.
"We have so much compared to them…Who needs more?" she said.
Depatie isn't the only one lending a helping hand.
Liah Fereydoonzad, Bedard's daughter, created a youth branch of the organization called 2Generation2 (2G2).
She organizes parties and sporting events to raise awareness about the foundation.
"It showed us that when you actually do something about whatever's bothering you, you can make a big difference," she said.
For more on 60 Million Girls or to make a donation, visit www.60milliondefilles.org.