(Priyanka celebrated her 18th birthday Girl Up style with Tamsin Smith and Girl Up Director Gina Reiss-Wilchins)
A few months ago, I started to think about what it meant to turn 18 years old.
I couldn’t believe that I would be an adult! I thought about all my dreams, friends, family, and successes that I’ve had in my life. I can happily say that I have fulfilled almost all of my childhood dreams (except a few, including becoming a Disney princess).
I also thought about all my aspirations for the future: to go to college, to get a job, to fall in love, and to have a family.
As I was making a mental list of my goals for the next 18 years, I realized that there are millions of girls my age who will never have the opportunity to fulfill their simple childhood dreams; the dreams I took for granted all my life.
I thought about the girls who never got to finish secondary school, who never learned to read or write, and who were sent off to be married and became pregnant by age 15.
I thought about how we probably had the same dreams when we were little kids: to be academically successful, to be loved, to stay safe. The only difference between those girls and me is that they didn’t have the opportunity to fulfill those dreams.
So, as my 18th birthday quickly approached, I decided that I would dedicate the special day to supporting my peers, the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls.
The team from my non-profit, iCAREweCARE, came together to plan a mother-daughter fundraising tea for Girl Up.
We tirelessly designed invitations, wrote speeches, and e-mailed our peers and their families.
On Sunday, my 18th birthday, more than 150 mothers and daughters joined us to celebrate girls around the world. They wrote letters to the girls we are helping and tried to carry the 40-pound jerry cans that girls in Malawi have to carry for 8 hours a day.
But most importantly, my community heard the stories of the girls we are trying to help. We heard about their lives, their dreams, and their disadvantages. And then we learned how we could change everything.
If we supported Girl Up, we could change these girls’ lives.
By the end of the event, we had heard from Tamsin Smith (former President of Product (RED)), Nancy Conrad (Founder/President of the Conrad Foundation), and Gina Reiss-Wilchins (Director of Girl Up). We ate chocolate birthday cake and watched a fabulous performance by University Prep’s Xanadu cast.
We had also raised more than $25,000!
I am beyond thrilled to say that my birthday was marked by helping give thousands of girls the childhood that they deserve.
Visit GirlUp.org to join our efforts and give a “high-five” to change the life a girl.