UHS student on a mission to end hunger

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UHS student on a mission to end hunger

Katie Strawbridge, Reporter

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Despite living in a modern era, poverty and hunger plague the world. 1 in 9 people do not have enough to eat, causing 3 million young lives to be lost every year. This means that every 10 seconds, a child dies of hunger-related disease. While these numbers are daunting, Carolyn Pascal, a senior at Urbana High School, believes that something can be done to begin to solve this situation.

For a very long time, Pascal has been aware and active about these issues, stating that she had been concerned about the hungry since she was in middle school. “When I was 12 years old, I began holding community outreach events at local grocery stores. Over the next three years, I hosted 20 outreach events and collected more than 3,600 items,” Pascal said. Even after all of these efforts, she knew that there was still more to be done to help.

“I founded Educate Girls to Eradicate Hunger to inform the public of the power of providing secondary education to girls in developing nations and to raise funds to educate girls,” Pascal said about her organization, which has, to date, provided 71 girls in Malawi with tuition, room and board, uniforms and more for an entire year. Its message has also spread to thousands of people after only a year after its founding, and continues to do so.

Pascal chose to help Malawi, a country in Africa, since it is one of the poorest nations in the world. Only 7% of girls attend secondary school there. Since families must pay for their children to be sent to schools, Pascal explained, “families opt to educate their sons, leaving daughters trapped in the cycle of generational poverty.” She chose the first school that she has helped through the UNICEF KIND project, which has a subcomponent focusing exclusively on educating girls.

Keeping teen girls in school in impoverished countries such as Malawi may end the cycle of poverty in a generation, making girls’ education a better method for eradicating hunger rather than simply increasing food production. Educating girls greatly reduces their risk of contracting HIV, dying during childbirth, and suffering a host of hunger-related diseases, many of which are fatal to children, as well as becoming child brides and having more children than they can afford. Girls who receive a secondary education also tend to marry later, have fewer children, earn higher wages, and support healthier families. In Pascal’s words, “an educated girl uplifts her entire family from poverty.”

Knowing this, Pascal became determined to inform the public about this topic and raise funds to educate girls, all while still being in high school herself. She has held many fundraisers, including a mailing campaign, an email campaign, a book fair, and most notably, the annual Educate Girls Superhero 5K with 1K Fun Run. The inaugural race in 2018 was held at Monocacy Village Park, and the 2019 race was held at Urbana District Park. Both races engaged over 100 runners and volunteers.

Pascal has also started the Indigenous Peoples Literature Society, after learning how imperialism and colonization has stripped many people of their indigenous cultures and identities. Through this society, literature by indigenous authors is discussed at many book clubs and events. Some places where these discussions are held include the Urbana Regional Library, Barenes and Noble, the Frederick Distance Festival the SheLEADS Youth Summit, and the Educate Girls Superhero 5k race. With this platform, 1,964 people have been exposed to the voices of indigenous authors.

As for the future, Pascal will be going to Bowdoin College, where she plans on studying economics. She hopes to be able to eventually study abroad, where she can learn more about different cultures. Inspired through her experience of learning about the impoverished and hungry, Pascal plans on going to law school to fight for the underrepresented.

Learn more about Pascal’s organization at: EducateGirlstoEradicateHunger.org