Don't be fooled by her size. This Kenyan sixth-grader knows how to own an audience.
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What are the chances a sixth-grader from the biggest slum in Kenya ends up on stage in New York City, speaking to thousands of people?

Not very great, but Eunice Akoth did it. She's living her dream.



Eunice captivating her audience. Image via Women in the World.

Eunice's dreams aren't exactly uncommon for a girl her age: to travel the world and to become a doctor. But the possibility of seeing them through is extra difficult simply because of where she was born.

Between unemployment rates, gender discrimination, and violence in her slum of Kibera — it's a long road out for girls like her.

"Most of the kids in Kibera are raped, some are neglected by their parents, some are homeless," Eunice said at the Women in the World summit. “Most of them have dreams, but they don't know how they can achieve them."

She's starting to figure out how to achieve her own with some welcomed help.

The first-ever all-girls school opened up in Kibera, and it's changing the future.

It's Eunice! And her home in Kibera! Images via A Path Appears and Shining Hope for Communities.

It's called the Kibera School for Girls, and as an all-girls school, it's putting a much-needed focus on girls by giving them an education free of charge and pushing them to dream and work toward a brighter future. It's the first of its kind in the area, and Eunice is a star student.

In a lot of places, going to school isn't a given. Especially for girls.

Eunice says that "growing up as a girl in Kibera is hard work, but if you trust in yourself, you can make it here." She believes in herself and her school believes in her, too. She even spoke in New York City at the 2015 Women in the World Summit, along with the founders of her school. (I guess she can mark a trip to NYC off of her list!)

She traveled from Kenya to New York City to deliver a poem about a dream she has.

You can tell how much Eunice values her education when you hear the poem she wrote for all of the children she knows in Nairobi, Kenya. Here's an excerpt:

*chills*

She's going places. Keep an eye on her.

Don't miss her poem from 0:00-1:35. And if you've got time, stick around for the Women in the World panel afterward on how education can help break the cycle of poverty for girls in Kenya and around the world.

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As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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