It was the finalé at the Vancouver Film Festival and now a screening of Girl Rising is poised to become the opening fundraising initiative Oct. 22 for a new education-focused charity: Room to Read Okanagan.
“If we sell out the [Community] theatre, we would have enough money to provide eight girls with the tuition they need to pay for 10 years of education; so we can change eight lives. Or that money could build a small school in Africa or Asia,” said Pat Nelson, the woman who brought Room to Read, an education-focused non-profit organization with a four-star rating on Charity Navigator and the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy, to Kelowna.
Girl Rising is a film about gender inequality in developing nations and how education can be used to change a life’s path. Described as an inspirational tale, it has already spurred an uplifting amount of dedication locally.
This screening will be sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada. An RBC employee saw the film at the Vancouver Film Festival and decided the bank should back another screening for its clients in Vancouver, and RBC has since made the offer to back Room to Read Okanagan’s inaugural event.
“This basically just fell in our lap,” said Nelson.
Featuring nine extraordinary young women from nine developing nations, Girl Rising cracks a vault few North Americas ever see inside by using nine prominent actresses to narrate a tale written by nine prominent writers demonstrating how critical it is to fight for girls’ right to education internationally.
“There are 750 million people in the world who are illiterate and we say two-thirds of those are girls,” said Nelson.
Founded by the first chief executive officer and president of Yahoo!, Tim Koogle, and Microsoft executive John Wood, who wrote Leaving Microsoft to Change the World to describe their experience, Room to Read focuses on gender equality and literacy and has posted impressive results.
Aside from commissioning and publishing 167 culturally appropriate children’s books, the charity had created 1,925 school libraries as of 2012, had 17,740 girls participating in education programs and had benefited 7.8 million children.
“The United Nations has demonstrated that if a girl gets an education, her income is going to be higher. More importantly, if she gets an education, she gets married later, she has her family later, the children are more likely to survive childbirth and early childhood. It’s a tsunami,” said Nelson.
Locally, it caught the eye of Crystal Flaman, an endurance runner who uses her athletic abilities to raise money to affect social change. She is one of 20 local chapter members and has already raised $20,000 for the charity in her latest run—the Grand to Grand Ultra Marathon, a six-stage, 170 mile race held late last month.
Her phenomenal effort set the bar high.
There are 853 seats in the Kelowna Community Theatre and, with 100 per cent of the ticket sales going directly to literacy initiatives, Room to Read Okanagan could pull down another $21,325. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online or accessed at RBC branches in Kelowna.
The screening is 5:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at the Kelowna Community Theatre.