Malala Yousafzai speaking in our high school auditorium.
Malala Yousafzai’s visit to our school
I’m a high school teacher, and on April 12, our school had the most incredible honour. In advance of a special assembly to recognize the importance of girls’ education, we were told that Sophie Grégoire-Tudeau, the wife of our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, would be speaking to us, along with two cabinet ministers. We understood that they would be responding to questions and concerns raised by our students about education for girls, and that they would pass these concerns along to Malala Yousafzai, who would be made an honorary Canadian citizen later in the day at Parliament.
The speakers were amazing. Maryam Monsef, Minister of the Status of Women, and Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development were clearly passionate about their work and vision. There was thunderous applause when they introduced Grégoire-Trudeau, and she connected so warmly and powerfully with our students. It became clear as she spoke, however, that she herself was introducing someone. “Could it be . . . ?” I wondered, along with everyone else in the auditorium. “I think you know who I’m about to introduce,” Grégoire-Trudeau said after a meaningful pause. “This is a day you will remember.”
When Malala Yousafzai stepped onto the stage to a standing ovation, there were many tears. Some were mine. An outspoken advocate for girls’ education in her native Pakistan, she was targeted by the Taliban and shot in the head on a school bus at age 15 in 2012. Miraculously, Malala survived the attack, and she was catapulted into a position on the world stage, a symbol of the movement for girls’ rights to education.
She carries that mantle with an understated power and gracious humility, and her talk to our students was marvelous. Grégoire-Trudeau was right. It was a day we will all remember.
Grégoire-Trudeau introduces Malala Yousafzai. Malala speaks to our students.
The importance of a supportive dad to a daughter
In her talk, Malala honoured her father. She said that on the day that she was born, neighbours came to visit her parents – not to congratulate them on the birth of their girl, but to offer them comfort on the disappointment of having a female child, and hope that the next one would be a boy. Her father, however, valued Malala as much as he eventually did the two sons who were to follow. He included her name on the family tree – the first female name to be written in its 300 year history. He ran the school for girls that Malala attended, and championed her right to an education.
In a TED talk, he said that when people ask him what he did to foster such power in his daughter, his answer is this: “Don’t ask me what I did. Ask me what I did not do. I did not clip her wings.”
Connection to debt?
This is a blog about debt-reduction, and so I’ve got to make an abrupt turn here. How many of us clip our own wings? How many of us clip our wings with the debt we take on? How much of our collective potential is being drained by the obligations of our indebtedness?
Another debt-reduction milestone in April
Our personal journey out of debt can be seen as a patching of those clipped wings, and we hit another significant milestone in this patching work during the month of April. To recap, when we started out in June of 2012, we had:
- $21,400 in consumer debt
- $80,800 in business debt
- $155,000 in mortgage debt
- For a grand total of $257,000
The road to debt-freedom is a long one, and so it’s important to recognize milestones along the way. By this point, almost 5 years later, we’ve passed many milestones:
- Consumer debt – all paid off!
- Under the $200,000 mark!
- $100,000 paid off!
- Business debt – all paid off!
- Under the $100,000 mark!
And for April 2017? Our mortgage – our only remaining debt – is now less than our business debt originally was. In April, we slipped under the $80,000 mark to $79,200.
Using my patched wings
And what are we doing with our patched wings? At Fruclassity this week, I wrote about the guitar that my husband bought and the children’s book that I’m self-publishing. Ella Builds a Wall is now being printed, and it will be in my hands soon.If you’re interested, you can see a trailer of the book here. It’s something I didn’t have the freedom to pursue for years and years, and I’m so glad to have this opportunity now.
How about you? Does your debt “clip your wings”? Is it draining your potential to do the things that are important to you? Your comments are welcome.