03 Nov 58 Million!
Sometimes something so special happens in your life that you need to stop and ponder it deeply. I had one of those experiences at the EARCOS Leadership Conference in Bangkok last week.
Loung Ung was the opening speaker on Day 1 of the Conference. The room was packed with over 1300 excited school leaders from around the world. As Loung told her story a heavy silence transcended into the room. Loung, a 45-year-old Chinese Cambodian woman, was only five years old when the Khmer Rouge invaded Phnom Penh.
Loung lost half her family, including both parents, and spent time in a camp for child soldiers. She shared vivid and passionate accounts of her love for her parents and siblings and how ultimately as little girl she learnt to hate and hurt as a child soldier. Many of us sat there with tears in our eyes, wondering at the horror she and her family experienced.
After the Cambodian war was over, Loung and her older brother relocated to Vermont, USA where she gradually began to understand and appreciate the kindness of others in helping her readjust to life and loving.
In 1995, Loung returned to Cambodia to be reunited with the family she left behind. Since then she has devoted herself to actively helping others seek justice and reconciliation to help Cambodia heal. She also volunteers to help land mine victims.
Her award-winning book First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers is a bestseller and has been published in fourteen countries. In 2013 Loung became one of the writers of ‘Girl Rising’, a ground-breaking film that tells the stories of nine girls from developing countries.
Loung’s resilience, courage and determination to make a positive difference in the lives of others is remarkable. She challenged conference delegates to see what is deep in their students’ hearts and challenge them to be active and make a difference in the world.
As I sat there listening I thought about the 58 million children around the world who receive no education and the 123 million who never graduate from high school. As a Millennium Goal the United Nations made a commitment to educate more children by 2015 and sadly a report published last year shows that we have failed in this endeavor.
At the recent United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015 an exciting new agenda was created, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
It is a plan of action to transform humanity, our planet and prosperity. It contains 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets and calls for collaborative partnerships to build on the work not realized by the Millennium Goals.
Why not take up this challenge with your students and teachers? Discover the passion that lives in their hearts and empower them to take action. You never know, they may reach out and make a difference to the 58 million who currently receive no education or the 123 million who do not finish High School.
Just like Loung we can make a positive difference in the world.
What action will you take?
If you would like to discover more strategic actions for your school why not download the Think Strategic White Paper below.