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International Day of the Girls – 14th October, 2019

Dear friends and colleagues,

Today is the International Day of the Girl. The theme this year is GirlForce: Unscripted and unstoppable. Here is piece that RHR/HRP has put out today: https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/international-day-girl-child/en/ Please spend a few minutes to go over it, and please share it. The piece talks about girls worldwide. In this brief message, I would like to share my reflections on what this means to my precious daughter – Sarita.

Sarita is 12 years old. She was diagnosed with epilepsy before she was one year old. Her epilepsy is resistant to medication and so even before she was two, she needed two brain surgeries. Even with that, her epilepsy is not fully controlled. She has little convulsions regularly and so she is on daily antiepileptic medication.

Despite all these challenges, Sarita is growing and developing well. She has learning difficulties and so goes to a special school in Versoix, which has 8 – 10 students per class and a wonderful team of specially trained teachers. She speaks English, French and Spanish fluently (she has a Spanish mother). She swims, does ballet lessons and equitherapy lessons (she swims, dances and rides horses beautifully). She is also learning to ski and to ride a bike. More importantly, she is a happy child who laughs easily. She makes pancakes for us on Sunday mornings. She loves to sleep over with her friends. And as a preteen beginning to take on the world, she has started to challenge us and roll her eyes when we say things she needs to do.

My wife and I have been fully open with Sarita about her condition. We have told her that we will do everything in our power to ensure that epilepsy does not stop her from doing what she wants to do or becoming who she wants to become. We have watched the magic film (We’re the super humans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IocLkk3aYlk) with her many, many times. We also share and discuss with her other stories of people who have not let obstacles stop them.   

I feel deep within that Sarita (whose name in Hindi means little river) is unstoppable. I feel blessed that she came into my life. What I learn from and with her informs me and extends into my work with adolescent girls.  I feel truly blessed to have an opportunity to make the contribution that I am to  their lives.

This morning, on the International Day of the Girl, I held Sarita by her shoulders, looked into her eyes and told her that she was unstoppable.  On this special today, can I ask you to do that with one girl in your life.

With all my good wishes,

Chandra

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