MISSOULA - While a winter storm raged outside on Tuesday, Free Cycles was heating up with performances from Missoula kids.
This open-mic night was the culmination of a year-long project by Missoula International School eighth-grade student Indy Barr to raise funds to send Malawian girls to school.
“Generally, girls in Malawi don’t have access, or easy access to education, and even though it seems really cheap here it’s more expensive there,” Barr told MTN News.
125 American dollars can send a girl to school in Malawi for a whole year.
If Malawian families were to fund that themselves, they’d be paying over $128,000 Kwacha.
“I think it’s just important for girls to have the same access to education that men do,” Barr continued.
Indy’s advisor, Gillian Kessler, has spent time in Malawi, seeing firsthand the difficulties girls must overcome to get an education.
“It’s so humbling for me to see these young women who are incredible, so smart and so strong, and have so much in them, but so little resources and they just keep getting pushed down and forced into early marriages and all sorts of crazy situations. So, giving these opportunities to them, especially with education, is hugely, hugely important,” shared Kessler.
Through working with Kessler, Barr connected with I Demand Access and the Othakarhaka Foundation.
“Ida is the one who started I Demand Access and the Othakarhaka Foundation. Othakarhaka means ‘passing on the kindness’. And Ida is just like a really cool woman. She was born in Malawi and raised there and as...a woman so that means she didn’t have easy access to education and a woman from the U.S. actually paid for tuition for college," Barr explained. "And Ida wanted to pay her back but um the woman said that she could pay her back by helping other girls get education."
Following in Ida Puliwa’s footsteps, Indy Barr is passing on the kindness. She hopes that education “can empower other women to like step up and speak out.”
After all the songs were sung and the instruments were put away, Indy had raised over $700 for Malawian girls, bringing her total to just above $1,300. If you’d like to donate, visit https://www.idemandaccess.org.