At just 13 years old, Grace was forced out of school when armed conflict came to her community in South Sudan. Her family fled to a farming plot, where one day they were confronted by five men in uniform with guns. “They told us to sit down and said they would train us to become soldiers,” recalls Grace. The girls were put to work in a camp and Grace was forced to commit acts of cruelty. Women without husbands were forced to sleep with men they didn’t know. 

Thankfully, after several months, a peace agreement was struck and Grace’s family was able to return home where she received support for six months at a transition centre. Now, Grace and her younger sister are back in school. “I like school, it changes my mind,” said Grace. “When I’m studying and playing with the others at school I forget about the bush.” Through school, Grace is rediscovering her life before conflict and her ambitions.

Education is a human right — yet right now, more than 75 million kids like Grace, are out of school in countries where conflict, violence or natural disaster are disrupting lives. And in times of crisis, girls are particularly disadvantaged — 90% more likely to be out of secondary school. Giving every child the chance to stay in class is crucial to helping children heal from trauma, rebuilding countries affected by conflict — and preventing conflict and disaster in the first place. 

Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is a global fund exclusively working to ensure that by 2030, every child affected by conflict or crisis has access to a safe, free and quality education. But right now, the world needs money to achieve this — an estimated USD $8.5 billion. It’s vital that governments worldwide step up and do what they can to help. Add your name: ask world leaders — including Ireland, Japan, the US, UK, Germany, France, Norway and Australia — to commit new funds to Education Cannot Wait.