Dear Big Sister,
I never knew how lucky I was to be in school. I thought every girl was free to learn like me. And then I read Malala’s story here. It really opened my eyes. I started noticing things around me.
And then my friend Linda stopped attending school. At first, I thought maybe she was sick or visiting family but when I started enquiring after her, I found out that her parents want her brothers to go to school, not her. They said boys are future leaders, not girls. I felt so bad, especially since Linda has always wanted to work in advertising.
But I don’t just want to feel bad. I want to help get Linda back in school. If I can do it for her, I can do it for other girls too. The thing is, I don’t know where to start. How do I go about it? What if nobody listens to me?
Letters like yours fill me with hope. Yes, everyone has the right to go to school. However, we live in a world where some people think girls aren’t equal to boys so we shouldn’t be educated. I’m super proud of you for wanting to change the way people think and for wanting to get Linda back in school.
I’d like to show you my favourite trick for solving problems. It’s called a problem tree. It’s an easy way of breaking down a problem to find its causes and effects, which will then help you find a solution.
Problem trees have helped me a lot, using it will be helpful for you as well. I have some suggestions on how you can use it. Let's get started.
- Grab a pen/pencil and a sheet of paper, then draw a tree. It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw well. A simple sketch will do. Just make sure your tree has roots, a trunk, branches and leaves.
First, draw a trunk – it’s the problem you want to solve. Next, draw the roots – they’re the causes of the problem. Afterwards, draw the branches – they’re the things stopping you from solving the problem. Finally, draw the leaves – they’re the solutions to the problem.
2) It’s time to label your tree. Let’s begin with the trunk. It’s the problem you want to solve. Simply write: ‘My friend Linda is out of school’
3) Next, on to the roots. Here you’ll deal with the causes of the problem. On each root, write one of these: ‘Her parents want her brothers to go to school, not her’, ‘Her parents don’t know girls’ education is good for their family and our society’ and ‘Her parents don’t think girls are future leaders.’
4) Almost done. Now you’re on the branches, which are the challenges you face when you try to solve the problem. Write the following, one per branch: ‘Her parents may not listen to me’ and ‘Her parents may not change their minds’.
5) At last you’re on the leaves. Now that you know your problem well, you can come up with ways to fix it. Write these down, one per leaf: ‘Ask my parents and/or a trusted adult to talk to her parents’, ‘Tell my friends to ask their parents to help’, ‘Stage a play on girls’ education in my community’ and ‘Start a WhatsApp group on girls’ education’.
It’s a wrap! Remember, these are just suggestions. If anything I've written doesn't suit the situation, feel free to change it to what works best.
You can use a problem tree to solve all sorts of problems, e.g. how to make sure other girls in your community go to school.
Then keep it somewhere you can always see it, so it can guide you and help you make decisions.
If possible, talk to a trusted adult before you draw your problem tree. They can help too. Also, try not to worry whether or not people will listen to you. If you can convince just one person, you’ve succeeded. Love, light and lots of luck, Big Sister
Want to read more inspiring stories like this one? Then head to our Springster Facebook page and connect with a community of girls just like you! - https://www.facebook.com/heyspringster