2014 YOUTH AWARD
Reverse the Course
Kibera, Kenya & Uganda
At the age of 12, Mary Grace Henry became determined to change the life of an underprivileged girl by funding her education. She started by teaching herself how to make reversible headbands with a plan to sell them at her school’s bookstore, using 100% of the profits to send girls living in extreme poverty to school. Soon, she had raised enough to send one girl to school. But she knew that she couldn’t stop there: so many other girls still did not have access to education.
Mary Grace knew that the greatest obstacle to education faced by both girls and boys was poverty. But that young girls faced a second hurdle that is far more difficult to address: their culture. In many countries throughout the world, girls are viewed as having not just lesser value than boys, but often devastatingly little or no value.
This means that girls are often shut out from educational opportunities since families believe it is better to invest in sons who will remain with them than in daughters who will join their husbands’ families. Mary Grace was determined to provide the opportunity for girls to receive an education to reverse the course of their life, change the course of a community … and a country.
Mary Grace’s program, Reverse The Course, is a successful social business that has sold over 14,000 hair accessories and funded the education of girls in Kenya, Uganda, Paraguay and Haiti. Their mission to provide education for disenfranchised girls and develop business training and mentoring programs for girls, empowering them to become agents of positive change in their communities. Without Mary Grace’s support, these girls would not have been able to attend school.