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Your impact in 13 photos

By Jessica Souza

2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges and heartache. But it was also a year of overwhelming generosity.

And that’s because of you!

Here are 13 photos from around the world showing the impact you made for girls, children and families. Take a look, and feel inspired by what you’ve accomplished. We sure do.

Thank you for being there for the most vulnerable, all year long. 

1.     You made sure children are protected from COVID-19, no matter where they live.

You made sure children are protected from COVID-19, no matter they live

Because of you, girls like 8-year-old Luz Clarita in Cusco, Peru can wash their hands at home and stay safe from COVID-19.

In Peru alone, you’ve helped deliver 5,000 hygiene kits to children and families through Plan International USA. That means they’re better able to protect themselves and stay healthy through the pandemic.  

2.     You kept girls tuned into their education.

You kept girls tuned into their education

Remote learning is difficult for children who don’t have the resources they need, like internet access. And interruptions to education can have long-term negative effects — especially for adolescent girls.

But these two girls in Indonesia, both named Maria, are staying on track, thanks to you. They’re listening to a radio lesson together! Through Plan, you helped provide 1,000 solar radios to children across the East Nusa Tenggara province. With radios, students can still access a reliable source of learning while classrooms are closed.

3.     You sent gifts that fill hungry stomachs and give families hope.

 You sent gifts that fill hungry stomachs and give families hope

Through your Gifts of Hope this holiday season, you’ve already provided almost 800 livestock gifts to families around the world. When a family has livestock — even just a few chickens to start — things change. They can eat fresh eggs every day, and can earn money by breeding chickens and selling eggs in their community.

That means that girls like Violet, 17, in Zimbabwe, won’t go hungry and her family will have a better shot at affording her school fees.

4.     You remembered the most vulnerable.

You remembered the most vulnerable

Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh is the world’s largest refugee settlement. In this overcrowded community, access to soap and clean water is hard to find.

But, by partnering with Plan, you helped refugee families have a fighting chance. More than 17,000 households with adolescent children in Cox’s Bazar are receiving hygiene kits, so they can wash their hands and stay safe. And almost 16,000 people have benefitted from hygiene and counseling sessions.

 5.     You helped women become entrepreneurs and launch small businesses.

You helped women become entrepreneurs and launch small businesses

The pandemic has plunged even more families into poverty. But you helped women in Ecuador save their livelihoods and invest in their futures.  

Your support trained women on entrepreneurship so they could start producing something desperately needed: face masks. These business owners are now making a living sewing face masks (they’ve made over 30,000!) and selling them at a low cost to others in their communities. It’s a win-win.

6.     You fought to protect girls from traffickers.

You fought to protect girls from traffickers

Girls face unique challenges during crises like the pandemic. Trafficking is on the rise, and more girls are at risk of being sold. Girls like Dinh in Vietnam.

When Dinh was just 15, she went to the market and was kidnapped by traffickers. They brought over the border to China and said she’d be sold into marriage. Dinh managed to escape eight months later. Many girls like her are never able to return home.

But this year you stepped up to protect girls. You helped educate communities about the dangers of trafficking and you helped survivors recover.

7.     You made girls feel less isolated and alone.

You made girls feel less isolated and alone

Fatima is 14 years old. She’s from Syria, but now lives in Jordan, in the Azraq refugee camp.

With lockdowns in the camp, Fatima could have felt unbelievably isolated. But she didn’t, because of you.

You helped Fatima and other girls in her community stay connected and be able to support each other. They participate in a Plan International online program through WhatsApp where they can reflect on gender issues and talk about life skills.

"The online sessions surely helped,” Fatima said. “But honestly, the most important thing is keeping in contact with my friends."

8.     You helped girls stay safe from early marriage and focus on school.

You helped girls reject early marriage and focus on school

You may have seen Stella’s story by now. She’s a brave young woman who fled South Sudan in search of a better life — but only found more hardship. Feeling like it was her only escape, she decided to drop out of school and get married. It only made things worse.

But Stella is a survivor, and she was able to turn her life around with your support. She returned to school, and despite the stigma she faces because of her marriage, she’s determined to finish.

“I want to be a nurse,” Stella says. “If I hadn’t gone back to school, I wouldn’t have a future.”

9.     You amplified the voices of youth advocates.

You amplified the voices of youth advocates

With the right resources, young people can drive change in their communities. You’re building the next generation of girls’ rights advocates, like Chandrakala in Nepal, who fights child trafficking by educating families in her community about child protection.

You’re giving passionate youth the platforms they need to use their voices and inspire others. And people are listening.

10.     You didn’t forget the health needs of girls.

You didn’t forget the health needs of girls

The routine health needs of girls don’t stop because there’s a pandemic. But many have been left without crucial resources or knowledge, especially when it comes to their periods.

But not in the Maiduguri community in Nigeria. There, you helped provide 800 girls with menstrual health lessons and Plan hygiene kits containing pads and underwear, along with other items they need, like soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, face masks and hand sanitizer.

“Our parents don’t have the money to provide most of the items we got today,” said Fatima, a student. “I can’t recall the last time I used a toothbrush to clean my teeth.”

11.     You responded when the children of Beirut needed you.

You responded when the children of Beirut needed you

“I was super scared. The noise was very loud and I thought we were being attacked,” said 10-year-old Lamar. “The ceiling of my uncle’s house fell down. I started crying and held my mommy really tightly.”

In August, an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon caused devastating damage to a city already struggling through economic collapse and the pandemic. Children’s lives were in danger.

But when they needed you most, you were there, donating generously to relief efforts through Plan. You provided food and essential supplies to families affected by the tragedy. 

12.      You gave girls a seat at the table.

You gave girls a seat at the table

Abigail is a 14-year-old girl in the Dominican Republic. But for one day this year, she was also a senator.

Plan Takeovers are one way you let girls take their advocacy to the next level. For International Day of the Girl, Abigail stepped in for Senator José del Castillo Saviñon. In her meetings she talked about the online safety of girls and how the lack of internet access is preventing children in rural communities from remote learning during the pandemic.

13.     You stood by sponsored children and their families.

You stood by sponsored children and their families

Despite the turbulent year we all had, you provided ongoing support for your sponsored children. You kept children, families and communities going during a very challenging time. Children like Daniya in Cambodia, who lives with her parents and younger sister, are better protected because of you.

And you went above and beyond, writing letters and sending Sunny Days magazines and Little Treasure gifts to your sponsored children. They won’t forget these moments when they knew you were thinking of them.   

And we hope you won’t either, because you made a real difference. Thank you.

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