Today the world is observing the International Day of the Girl, where we remember how important girls are to our world, how they’ve been marginalized throughout history, and how we can work to help them reach their full, God-given potential.
Two days ago, I got a big check in the mail and some incredible news: The Invisible Girls, the memoir I wrote about five Somali refugee girls I met on a train in Portland, Oregon, as I was recovering from breast cancer, has “earned out,” meaning it has earned more than the publisher paid as a book advance, and now every quarter I’ll be receiving a royalty check. (Only 25% of published books ever earn out, so this is really exciting news!!!)
I’ve designated all the proceeds from the book — both the advance and the royalties — to go into The Invisible Girls Trust Fund so these sisters can get a college education.
My heart was bursting this morning as I wrote out the deposit slip to add more than $4,000 to the fund.
The day I received the check, I also got a text from the middle girl, Sadaka.
“Sahara, I just wanted you to know that today’s my 16th birthday,” she said.
It took my breath away. She was a shy 7-year-old little girl when I met her and her sisters in Portland. And now she’s a self-assured young woman who’s clever and funny and smart as anything — she even wrote a book report on The Invisible Girls last year so her teachers would know what she and her sisters had been through, and how hard they’d worked to excel in their new life in America.
I texted her back, “Happy birthday, sweetheart! I love you and I’m so proud of you.”
Then I told her I had good news — there was a big check going into their college fund.
“It’s amazing what one train ride can do for people, and how much it can change their lives,” she wrote.
I know, right?
Today as we celebrate the Day of the Girl, it’s important to remember how precious and resilient and important girls are.
Today it’s important to remember the injustices women have endured, and endure even now.
Today it’s important to remember that each of us can contribute what we can to give each girl what she needs to succeed: an education, a choice, a chance.
To all of you who have fallen in love with The Invisible Girls and spread the word about the book, thank you from me and the girls, from the bottom of our hearts. We’ve come so far, but we still have a long way to go! The trust fund has to grow to $100,000 before we can turn it into a non-profit to get more substantial donations for the girls’ fund, and open up the fund to other refugee girls who want to go to college.