Rahaf lives in Mleeh — a far-flung village in rural Jordan. Life can be hard here. It's hot and dusty. Water is scarce. And people have to work hard to eke out a living.
Most families move around a lot to find seasonal work in farming. Which makes it pretty much impossible for kids to stay in school. There's also a lot of pressure on impoverished families to marry their daughter off as soon as possible to a man who can provide for her, even if he's 20 (or even 30!) years older.
Families who cannot afford to feed or educate their daughter are sometimes faced with the impossible choice of child marriage to ensure her survival.
So, like millions of other girls around the world, child marriage could have been Rahaf's story. Grade school dropout. Working fields in the scorching heat. And raising children — while still a child herself.
But Rahaf had another choice.
She found a second chance in our alternative learning program. Our staff in Mleeh is local. They totally get the particular challenges that Rahaf and her family face. And they were able to work together to keep Rahaf in school.
Rahaf was a shy kid when she entered our program. But as time passed, she became more outgoing as she was encouraged to develop her own opinions and thoughts.
Now, Rahaf talks with other girls and their parents about the importance of school — and how they can get their second chance at an education.
Rahaf says, “I was never like that before. I was so shy that I could hardly speak any opinions. But not now!”
Rahaf uses her own life as an example of what's possible. That even in this remote place, an education is critical and girls can have dreams to pursue.
"I feel responsibility towards the out-of-school girls in my community. I look out for them and demonstrate how much hope and opportunity Questscope has offered me," says Rahaf.
Child marriage would have robbed Rahaf of the chance to learn, grow, and fully realize her potential. It would have ensured that she remained dependent on others and stripped her of the ability to make choices about her own future.
An education does the exact opposite. Providing girls like Rahaf with access to quality education gives them the power to know their options in life and the confidence to go after their goals. And encouraging girls to speak up about what they want empowers them to be agents of change — for themselves and for others.