"My mama say education will give me a voice. I want more than just a voice, Ms. Tia. I want a louding voice,' I say. "'I want to enter a room and people will hear me even before I open my mouth to be speaking. I want to live in this life and help many people so that when I grow old and die, I will still be living through the people I am helping."
-Adduni, The Girl with the Louding Voice
It's a plea from a young girl in a village in Nigeria. Just because she's a girl, basic things like an education, a voice to be heard, and a chance to make a difference in the world are not at her fingertips, and she knows it. But unlike many girls in her crisis, she's not okay with it.
The Travel on Purpose Book Club recently finished the incredible fictional story The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré. The book begins in a rural Nigerian village where Adunni has just lost her mother and is soon sold by her father to an older man in the village to be his bride. It doesn't matter that he already has two wives or that Adduni is only 14 years old. Adunni could have easily surrendered to what is expected in her culture and learned to live a life of suppression and injustice. But instead, Adunni has a little spark in her soul that causes her to dream of something better. Perhaps it's the one gift that her devoted mother was able to provide for her daughter before she parted—and so Adunni labors toward freedom and opportunity. You'll have to read the book to find out what happens.
The Girl with the Louding Voice may be a work of fiction, but child marriage is not uncommon today and can be found in many developing countries worldwide. It's a form of slavery as one person is sold as property to another.
The themes throughout the book include education, justice, equality, opportunity, and joy. Adunni reminds us that joy is not found in the circumstances of our lives.
The Girl with the Louding Voice invites the reader into a life most have never experienced. While we grow up in abundance, showered by words of encouragement to reach our dreams and pursue whatever path we want, we often aren't even aware that this is not how many girls in the world live.
It's tough being a girl. According to UNICEF, there are 129 million girls today being denied the opportunity to go to school. Only 49 percent of countries have achieved gender parity in primary education. At the secondary level, the gap widens. Due to poverty, child marriage, menstruation, son preference, cultural value, and spiritual darkness, girls are left out of the places in society that offer hope toward a life of freedom and safety. Suicide is the number one cause of death of adolescent girls in the developing world. Eventually, these girls become women. Unfortunately, these women are ill-equipped to live a life of peace, purpose, and dignity. They are often illiterate, HIV+, and oppressed. In societies where women are not valued or allowed opportunities to flourish, they are subject to be the recipients of how that culture treats them, with little discourse to avoid it.
We found our louding voice at the Travel on Purpose Book Club by partnering with an organization that is doing something about it. Tirzah International helps source opportunities for marginalized women in 35 countries, through small business creation, leadership development, and sustainability initiatives.
All book club subscription fees for quarter one were donated to Tirzah International. Because of this book club with purpose, five women will be sponsored for a two-year microenterprise program in West Africa. These women will attend weekly meetings, dream about their business ideas, learn to embrace their potential and launch their plan with a microloan.
The Girl with the Louding Voice is an excellent book for everyone who cares about using their louding voice to uplift those who can't speak for themselves.
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Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
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