Ma Yan was born into a life of grinding poverty in
rural China
We tell the story of a young girl whose words have touched the hearts of millions of people around the world.

Ma Yan was born into a life of grinding poverty in rural China. She lived on a bowl of rice a day. But she loved to study and never gave up her dreams of achieving more. When she was 13, she started writing a diary, pouring into it all her hopes for her future.

In May 2001, Pierre Haski, a French journalist, visited Zhangjiashu, a Muslim village in Northwestern China. As Haski left the village a woman handed him a letter and three small brown notebooks.

The letter, written on the back of a bean seed packet, was a poignant cry for help from the woman's daughter, Ma Yan, who had been told she would have to leave the school where she boarded during the week and stay home to work in the fields.

The diary has been published in 16
countries around the world
The family could no longer afford the fees needed to educate both her and her brother. Even though school was a punishing, dangerous 12 mile walk away, Ma Yan wrote in the letter that her mother's words were "like a death sentence". She was 14 years old.

Today the diary has been published in 16 countries around the world, and Ma Yan herself has the future she dreamed of. Thanks to her diaries, other girls her age in her province had the chance to continue studying.

Everywoman went to meet her, as she prepared to leave for university in Paris.

The Diary of Ma Yan is available in 5 different languages.

Watch part one of this episode of Everywoman on YouTube

Watch part two of this episode of Everywoman on YouTube

This episode of Everywoman aired on Friday, February 8, 2008


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