Mary Grace Henry was just 12 years old when she learned about the devastating effects child marriage has on the lives of little girls in developing countries.
Moved by the painful stories, the Harrison, New York, resident decided to pay for one African girl's schooling by sewing and selling headbands.
Almost five years later, the now 17-year-old Henry has sold more than 11,000 creations and helped provide an education to 45 girls living in poverty-stricken regions of the world.
She is the founder of a nonprofit organization Reverse the Course, a business that donates 100 percent of its profits to education in developing countries – mainly Kenya and Uganda.
On Nov. 6, Henry was honored with a well-deserved World of Children Award for her efforts. The award provides her with a two-year $35,000 grant to support her charity work by funding student workshops and programs for girls in underprivileged areas of Africa.
“The greatest obstacle to education faced by both girls and boys is poverty,” Henry told the awards organization. “Girls, though, face a second hurdle that is far more difficult to address: their culture. In many countries throughout the world, girls are viewed as having not just lesser value than boys, but often devastatingly little or no value.”
There are around 67 million child brides in the world, according to the International Center for Research on Women. These girls are victims of a practice that not only deprives girls from the chance of attaining education, but also makes them vulnerable to multiple health risks.
Following is a trailer of Henry's documentary, Tumaini, which revolves around girls who are "going to school and paving their own paths to help others."