Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe this girl. Phoebe is one of our youngest Ambassadors, but don’t let that fool you. She is already on her way to being a serious change-maker – creating the kind of world she wants to grow up in.
Phoebe is about to finish school. She knows exactly what she wants to be – a human rights lawyer – and has decided her achievements as a One Girl Ambassador will be her legacy to her school years. Her primary school years that is. Because Phoebe is just 11 years old!
Her journey started with the inspiring example set by her grandmother, who taught Phoebe the two essential ingredients of any successful life: belief in yourself and hard work. And she showed Phoebe how to live a life that focused on others.
‘My grandmother really inspired me to take on this role [of One Girl Ambassador], because throughout her life she gave all she had to those in need. Even when she couldn’t really afford it and she had hardly any money, she would make meals for the less fortunate in her area and deliver them personally. Unfortunately, she died in July this year, but in her memory I’m going to be the most humble and charitable person I can – and try to fill those extremely big shoes she left behind.’
Becoming a One Girl Ambassador has given Phoebe a way to start making a difference in other people’s lives.
She first found out about One Girl when our CEO, Morgan Koegel, spoke to a group of students at her school during a ‘unit of inquiry’ on poverty and equality. As soon as Phoebe discovered there were girls her age leading lives so incredibly different from her own, she instantly connected with the cause and decided to do something about it.
‘Morgan explained that girls as young as eleven were being forced into marriage – and worse. These girls are my age and would do anything to go to school. I know with the girls in my class everyone is growing up, getting their period and that sort of stuff and these girls are doing it virtually all on their own, there’s no support there and One Girl is trying to change that. I felt – this is what I need to do. I need to help other people. It feels like I’ve found my calling actually.’
Phoebe got straight to work organising a fundraiser where male teachers wore school dresses for a day and raised over $1000. She was excited and wanted to do more. So when she saw an ad for the One Girl Ambassador program she knew this was something she wanted to be part of, and sent off her application.
‘I go this email from Sharni [our HR and Community Manager] saying: You are a One Girl Ambassador! I was in class at the time and I started jumping around and my teacher was like “Phoebe, what’s happened?” and I was just like “I’m a OG Ambassador!!” And everyone was clapping and laughing. And then I went to the training day and I met so many like-minded people.’
Our Ambassadors make our work possible. They do the lion’s share of Do It In A Dress fundraising and inject an extraordinary amount of passion and enthusiasm into the whole campaign. Each Ambassador commits to raising $3000 and to spreading the word about the work we do in Africa. So it’s a big thing for a young girl to take on.
A few people thought that challenge might be too big. Sometimes even Phoebe thought that!
‘I believed in my heart that I could – but my head was going Phoebe, what have you got yourself into!?’
But she soon proved all doubts were misplaced. Just have a read of what she has accomplished:
• Phoebe was interviewed on local radio station Casey Radio- 97.7FM breakfast program about her Do It In A Dress campaign.
• She created a powerpoint presentation about the work of One Girl, as part of her church confirmation ceremony. Friends attending her practice session were so inspired they took the message back to their own schools and now Phoebe is giving the presentation at another primary school.
• She’s giving that same presentation in assembly at her own school, to an audience of 350 students plus their families. She has also used girls’ education as the basis of one of her major assignments.
• She held a ‘come in a school dress’ birthday party for 40 kids (boys and girls in her year level) where she gave up her birthday presents and asked friends and family to donate instead. She raised $1250 – an amount that a family friend then dollar-matched, taking her total for the night to $2500.
• Another family friend, a pediatrician, included images and stories about Phoebe’s passion and fundraising in his presentation at a medical conference – and inspired another $500+ in donations.
So this amazing girl has already raised enough money to send 10 girls to school for a year.
It’s an accomplishment that Phoebe is very proud of – and rightly so. We asked her if she thought other kids at school might be inspired by what she’s doing. After a shy little laugh she said:
‘It’s not about me. It’s not about how great what I’m doing is – it’s how great WE can be. Together I believe we can make a whole lot of difference.’
How old is she again?!
Phoebe has some words of encouragement for fellow fundraisers – but it’s pretty good advice for life in general:
‘First, you actually have to believe in yourself – I reckon that’s the most important part. All you need to do is believe in yourself and after that everything else will flow. Without hope, you haven’t got a hope.’
We’re thinking of having that last bit printed on a T-shirt!
It’s easy to focus on Phoebe’s age – she is so young to be so driven and to have so much clarity about what she wants to achieve and how she sees the world. But honestly, she’s fabulous regardless of her age! We’re sure her family is incredibly proud of her and it goes without saying that we’re very proud that Phoebe is part of our One Girl family as well.