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Mtuseni is always stressing about school. One reason is because his perspective is that he’s in college for the whole family. He wants to get a good job and move his sister Bongeka and brother Musa out of the destructive influences of the settlement. He’s especially concerned about nine-year-old Bongeka. He said something last month that shocked me, partly because he doesn’t speak too often about larger family challenges…

It’s a bad thing growing in townships for a girl. Teenage pregnancy, rape, emotional abuse, environment. Just limits your thinkin’. It’s decaying when u got friends and people that think of u in a box.

My stomach and my heart both took a hit when he said this. What an awful perspective to carry about your little sister. When I met Bongeka in January, I immediately fell in love with her. She is so sweet and pretty. My hope is that once Mtuseni finishes school — and the Long-Distance Dad book about our experience is a best seller — I can provide support and  opportunities for Bongeka… and Musa… and other kids like them.

But Bongeka’s story is shared by millions of other girls around the world who face challenges that limit their opportunities. On October 11, 2012, the United Nations marks its first International Day of the Girl. The nonprofit 10×10 is one of many organizations embarking on a global campaign to educate and empower girls. Explore their site and learn more about how you or your organization can help girls like Bongeka realize a better life! We will all be richer for it.

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