MAKING AN IMPACT IN: Bangladesh, Kenya, Peru

The Daughters of the Forest follows the lives of a group of girls who are attending perhaps the most revolutionary high school in the world.

Set in one of the only 250 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves on earth, Paraguay’s Mbaracayú Forest Girls’ School is surrounded by a region of South America in which more than 95 percent of the forest has been burned and cleared, with the land now farmed by multinational agribusinesses. Meanwhile, more than 80 percent of the people in the region live in extreme poverty, and nearly 90 percent of the teenage girls become pregnant by the age of 16 and then drop out of school. Amid this landscape of despair, the Mbaracayú Forest Girls’ School is a beacon of hope, a place where 150 girls are becoming some of the most financially literate young people in South America — not just because they learn economics along with all of the other traditional subjects, but because they are putting what they learn into practice. The girls run numerous successful businesses — from a hotel for eco-tourists to a stevia farm that produces natural sweetener sold in the United States and a tree nursery that sells millions of seedlings a year to a national reforestation program — businesses that not only help fund the school, but fund scholarships for the girls to start their own businesses when they graduate.