My granny is one of the people I admire most. She set a high standard of faith, service, and love. She was as hardworking as anyone I've ever met and was quick to pursue various businesses as well as serving her family and community. You always knew where you stood with Granny because she wasn't afraid to tell people what she thought. Education and making the most of yourself was important to her. She believed in us and wanted us to aim high, although as I grew up and moved far away she let me know she wished I would do it closer to home.
Granny was the youngest of 7 kids. Her brother, Claude, was 8 years older than her. Granny and Claude were the only ones of their siblings to graduate from high school. Recently I was looking through old family pictures and stories my mom and her cousins had posted on Facebook. They were retelling the story about how Granny said she never would have gone to high school if it hadn't been for Claude. Granny Pearl (their mom) didn't see a need for her to go to school anymore and wanted her to drop out after 8th grade. Granny admired her brother Claude so much and wanted to be like him. He encouraged her to stay in school and helped convince Granny Pearl to let her. In 1947, Granny graduated from high school.
As I was reflecting on the story of Granny's schooling, it suddenly struck me that I'm just a generation removed from a time period in my own family history when it would have been acceptable and normal to not finish high school. I was blessed to know Granny Pearl and to see that she loved my granny very much and wanted the best for her, but it was a different time and there was a different lifestyle and expectations in the northeast corner of Oklahoma where they lived. What Claude did for Granny all those years ago by standing up for her and making sure she finished her education made a difference that rippled out for the generations that followed. Granny had 4 children who all attended college and married college graduates. They all had children - almost all 14 of us have graduated from college, and several of us have master's degrees.
Often people want to know what difference they can truly make. How much impact can we really have? I've recently realized my own life was impacted by the desire and actions of Granny and Claude to make sure she got an education. The opportunities and successes I've had are because in my own family one girl finished school and set an expectation that led to generations of educated and successful people who love God and serve others.
The kids I work with here in Zambia are part of communities where even finishing elementary school is not common. A very low percentage of Zambians graduate from high school. There are about 10,000 children that are sponsored to attend Legacy Academies that Family Legacy runs here. That's 10,000 kids who are receiving an education. Many of them will be the first in their family to complete grade 7, and many more will be the first to graduate from high school. They are 10,000 kids who, like my granny did, have someone giving them the opportunity and encouragement to keep going until they finish their education like her brother Claude did for her. What difference does it make to invest in someone's future? One that multiplies. Having someone stand up for the education of one girl changes the lives of the generations that follow her.