Girl Advocate — Girl Gone Travel

Carol Cain of Girl Gone Travel asks readers to help educate girls in Guatemala

In 2015, Carol Cain of Girl Gone Travel traveled to Guatemala with Cooperative for Education (CoEd) and was hooked by what she saw. Now she's asking her readers to get involved with the Thousand Girls Initiative. Carol sat down with us to chat about her involvement and why educating girls hits close to home for her. 

Why is educating girls something that’s important to you?

Studies have shown that a girl’s education is something that not only benefits her personally, but also her children and her community, which in turn helps to improve economic growth. I am the first female in my family to go to and finish college. There is a difference in the direction education took me and the opportunities it provided me, which my children now benefit from. Education is the only way to fight against the gender gaps that exist in so many areas of a woman’s life, both personal and professional. Education not only raises awareness but also the confidence to fight against these barriers and end the cycles that prevent entire communities from moving forward.

You have traveled widely and I can only imagine, have seen so much beauty and so much of the daily struggle of life in various parts of the world. I know you’ve traveled to Guatemala on a number of occasions — both with CoEd and on other trips. So what stands out to you about Guatemala and how does that call to you to help?

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As a Latina (my family is from the Dominican Republic), I can relate to a lot of the issues faced by the people of Guatemala. Poverty, corruption, social inequality — these are all things that I have seen affect my own country and family. But it isn’t what defines the people, the communities, or the culture. There is a cultural richness, a pride for history and heritage that is celebrated and from which we can all learn. We see it in the colors, the foods, and the people we meet. Guatemala is beautiful and interesting in this way.

So many organizations educate students in the developing world – why choose CoEd?

One of the things that most impressed me about CoEd is how it empowers members of the community in which they are in to become leaders and mentors to their own. People underestimate the power of having someone with whom you can identify with and relate with as the one who teaches you, speaks to you, motivates you, and leads by example. There is a lot of great work done by all the team members of CoEd, but this consideration to give the community the skills to educate and take care of their own is one of the best approaches I have seen in programs like these.

What would you like to say to fans of Girl Gone Travel? Why should they get involved?

I often hear people bemoan the fact that problems like global poverty and lack of education seem so much bigger than anything any one person can ever solve. But as someone who has personally experienced poverty on an extreme level as a child, I can say that the thing that always gave me hope and ambition was the promise I had of an education. Whatever might have been limited in my childhood, education was not one of these things. There was always someone in my life willing and able to make sure I went to school. That changes everything. How we dream, how we aspire, how we grow, how we think, and how we live. It only takes one person to change the life of another and their future generations. That is why it’s important to look beyond the magnitude of any problem, and believe in the power of our individual contributions to change it.

There was always someone in my life willing and able to make sure I went to school. That changes everything.

Want to give other girls the same access to education that helped Carol break free from the cycle of poverty?