Remarks by Sophia Sturtevant, Age 13, for Day of the Girl Event, Portland, ME

Thank you, Megan. Thank you, Mayor Brennan. I’d like to thank Hardy Girls Healthy Women for the opportunity to speak to you all today.

As Megan said, my name is Sophia. I am 13 years old, and I live in Yarmouth, Maine.  I’ve been involved with Hardy Girls Healthy Women since I was 8, beginning as an Adventure Girl. I was born in Cambodia and adopted when I was 6 months old. I am homeschooled; I am a musician, singer, dancer, and artist.

In 2007 when I was 8, my parents and I had the opportunity to go back to Cambodia and visit the orphanage where I lived as a baby, and to meet the woman who runs the orphanage and some of the girls who helped take care of me.

In 2011 when I was 11 1/2, we were planning our second trip to Cambodia. One month before we left, I told my mom I wanted to fundraise for the orphanage and raise money to buy school supplies, food, and school uniforms. So, I wrote a letter to all my friends and family and asked for their support.

My goal was to raise $200 dollars, but I ended up raising $1,200 dollars. With that money we were able to buy: 200 notebooks, 100 pencils, 50 pens, markers, rulers, pencil sharpeners, a basketball, rubber balls, soccer balls, 34 school uniforms, food, shampoo, and bug spray for the orphanage.

The school uniforms were very important to the girls especially, because without them they couldn’t go to school. It meant a lot to me because I could help the kids who were living in the same orphanage I lived in when I was a baby.

This year my moms and I are sponsoring a Cambodian girl to go to college.  Her name is Kimleang, and she is one of the girls who helped care for me as a baby. For just $500 dollars a year, my family and I can make sure that she has a safe future.

By 2015, females will make up 64% of the world’s adult population who cannot read. Only 30% of girls in the world are enrolled in high school. By celebrating the Day of the Girl, we can call attention to the importance of girls access to education in Cambodia, and all around the world.

While I was getting ready for today, my mom and I saw that there are two villages in Cambodia who are also recognizing Day of the Girl. One of those villages is where I was born. My hope is for a world where everyone knows about Day of the Girl and joins us in celebrating it, where all girls and women have equal access to education and a future free of violence, sex trafficking, and inequality.

Thank you.