Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport recently began showing an extraordinary collection of art at its T-Concourse Gallery. It’s called “Through the Eyes of a Girl” and features 39 vivid paintings and drawings collected from five countries last year. All of the artists are school-aged girls. Their work depicts their joys, aspirations and daily challenges as they work to pursue their educations. I hope people walking through the airport can spare a few minutes to look at the art.
I was fortunate enough to be part of CARE’s art gathering trip to Ghana’s Ashanti region and got to spend time with several of the girls as they painted and drew. I sat with and looked through the eyes of Jennifer, an 8-year-old orphan who loves math and hopes to be a bank manager when she grows up. Asked to do a self-portrait, she drew pictures of herself doing household chores alongside her cousins and grandmother.
I also saw through the eyes of community leaders who recognized that the high girls’ dropout rates in their communities help keep girls and their families mired in poverty. They worked with CARE on an outreach campaign to show parents that girls can still help around the house if they go to school – and girls who stay in school are less likely to get pregnant and more likely to get a good job as adults. CARE’s program in the area where Jennifer lives cut the girls’ dropout rate by 50 percent.
When people stop to the look at the art, I hope they see they something they find beautiful. And I hope they see what the girls who made the art see; that educating girls in the developing world is an investment that pays long-term economic, health and social dividends to families and communities.
For more information about Through the Eyes of a Girl, visit www.care.org/eyes.
Fredrick Anyanwu is executive director of individual resource development for CARE.