Girls with curiosity

I loved seeing the video clip of the NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory celebrating the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars the other day.  What a milestone!

I’m a child of the Apollo era, when we stayed up late to watch moon walks or heard about the mission’s progress over the school PA system.  At one point I wanted to be an astronaut. Then I realized you had to be good at math to be that kind of scientist, and I started making other plans. Like many my age, we remember the grainy black-and-white transmissions from Mission Control in Houston, with a bunch of homogenous guys in matching white shirts, crew cuts, skinny ties, and enough black eyeglass frames to stock an optometrist’s store.

What struck me as I watched the revelry at JPL was how much that room had changed, and I’m not talking about the blue polo shirts vs white button-downs. There were people with long hair, beards, and crew cuts. Somebody sported a bandana, which definitely would have been banned in the 1960s. They weren’t all white guys. In fact quite a number of them weren’t guys at all.

There were girls in the room.

It never occurred to me that because there weren’t any girls in the room, that I couldn’t be there too.  But that’s the kind of upbringing I had.  I don’t recall hearing that there were limits because I was a girl. I could literally shoot for the moon (or I could have, if math and science had come more naturally).

I’m glad Food for the Hungry helps girls — and women — dream beyond what their society says they can do. By working with girls, and their parents, we can change attitudes that will affect multiple generations.

I remember my first month working with FH in Bolivia, and visiting a child sponsorship community near my home in La Paz. I met a woman there whose name is lost in the mists of time; we sat next to each other on a bench, while she listened to an FH staff person talk about household budgeting. She never spoke. She couldn’t look me in the eye. She just blended in.

Four years later I saw her again at a meeting. This time, she was the neighborhood president, with a confident, direct gaze and strong hand shake. With FH’s help, she had explored new avenues for her own talents.  She led the neighborhood to build sidewalks, put in a sewer system, and construct a community center. She knew how to urge the government to shoulder its responsibility to do its part.  And, she had children — daughters included — whom she would teach to be curious about the world and push the envelope.

I won’t be going to the moon, but I wouldn’t rule out one of her kids colonizing Mars.


About Beth Allen

I'm a self-professed sustainable development geek who would have a very hard time picking a favorite country. That means, I love every tribe and nation and take great joy in seeing how God is working in the world. I've been with FH for nearly two decades, and started out by serving with them in the Bolivian Andes. I can't live without Jesus and coffee, but the coffee is mostly decaf so the power is from Jesus.

, , , ,