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Overhauling One Country’s Entire Educational System with @katiemeyler

October 11 is International Day of the Girl Child. Explore the #dayofthegirl hashtag to see more people supporting girls’ rights around the world, and for more from Katie, follow @katiemeyler on Instagram.

The girl is 16. She is dancing on a rooftop near the ocean in Liberia with friends, including Katie Meyler (@katiemeyler), a 33-year-old activist and photographer from New Jersey who changed the girl’s life. “I met her in the slums. She was 11, and she asked me to help her go to school. So I did,” Katie says, making the role that she and her organization More Than Me (@morethanmeorg) have played in helping one of the poorest countries in the world sound dead simple.

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One year after Katie opened the More Than Me Academy, a school for girls where students see the phrase “I promise to make my dreams come true” every time they walk up the stairs, Ebola broke out in Liberia. Katie didn’t flee. She fought the disease. “It was the worst hell you could imagine, and it was also ecstasy,” she says. “You had a common goal and it was urgent.”

Now, Katie’s aim is to overhaul Liberia’s entire educational system, using the academy as a model. “If Liberia remains vulnerable, our girls are vulnerable to health crises and war and extremist groups that are not far away,” she says, adamant that part of supporting girls is making sure boys have access to quality education, too. “We’re pro-women and children. We’re pro-men too. We’re pro-people. Everyone can make Liberia stronger.”

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