Wadley is just 7 when the world comes crashing down around her. Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake destroys her home and school, but it cannot break her irrepressible spirit nor extinguish her thirst to learn, even as she’s turned away from the schoolhouse day after day.

The Country

Haiti is just a stone’s throw from Miami, but had been shackled by poverty for generations even before the devastating earthquake of 2010. Recovery continues, but slowly. Getting an education is as hard as ever and Haiti still relies heavily on foreign aid. Hope remains, but tinged with fear. Our cameraman described his country this way: “Haiti has a chance, but it’s Haiti’s last chance.”

The Writer

Edwidge Danticat tells Wadley’s story. A finalist for both the PEN / Faulkner and National Book Awards, and winner of the American Book Award, Danticat’s Breath, Eyes, Memory was an Oprah Book Club selection. Her writing is a testament to the richness of Haitian life and to the power of language to bridge cultural divides.

The Voice

Wadley’s story is narrated by Academy Award-winner Cate Blanchett, who says, “I not only believe in a girl’s right to an education, but I believe in the power of storytelling through film. I am proud to be a part of Girl Rising.”


Wadley keeps busy or, as she put it: “There’s a lot on the menu.”

Wadley, now in grade 6, is one of the top students in her class in Port-au-Prince. Her favorite subjects are math and especially science, which she believes will be the most useful in the future. She is hoping to realize her dream of becoming a doctor. Her academic day ends at 2pm, but she stays at school until 5pm to do her homework. She loves music, art, sports and computer science. During vacations, Wadley takes English classes – but she wishes she could take more frequently. She looks forward to to the day she can communicate with the Girl Rising team in English.

She has also developed a love of photography, since Partners in Health gave her a camera. Her first question upon meeting someone is usually if she can take their picture; her second request is to look through the pictures they have taken on their phone.

Haiti often bears the brunt of natural disasters. But unlike the earthquake of 2010, which devastated Port au Prince and Wadley’s home, the family largely unaffected by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

Edwidge Danticat and Wadley.

Edwidge Danticat and Wadley.