Wednesday, May 9

Highlighting Charities

It's been awhile since my last post! Things have been pretty crazy on my end, what with school winding down and graduation fast approaching. This week I finished high school forever. It seems almost unreal—I am finally and definitively leaving behind a major part of my life. I was so excited to find out a couple of days ago that I've been named valedictorian of my class. As I've been brainstorming for my valedictory speech, I've reflected on everything that high school has meant to me, and on everything there is to come. And a thought occurred to me, something that is often on my mind: I've been lucky enough to have had 16 years of quality education so far, and I have at least four more years of college ahead of me. This is a privilege that millions of children around the world will never know. This thought saddens me, but more than that, it inspires me to make good use of my own education in every way I can. As my valedictory—as my final farewell to high school—I would like to promote several different charities and organizations who are working diligently to make this world a better place for children and all people everywhere.


“Connecther matches donors with projects that are helping women and girls in their quest for self-reliance. Because women and girls suffer most from poverty, at Connecther, we believe the benefits of helping women and girls to become self-reliant has tremendous impact. In the eight months since we've launched, Connecther has partnered with 40 501c3 nonprofits that have added 23 projects helping women and girls! Some examples are Hope for Senegal, where for as little as $25, a girl can receive a scholarship to attend school in Senegal; Vanavevhu helps child head of households in Zimbabwe (as daunting as this sounds, when parents die of AIDS in some countries, the oldest child needs to have a form of income to take care of the rest of the family); Grassroot soccer provides a project on Connecther that runs an all-girls soccer club which helps empower girls and reverse entrenched gender roles, which is key to combating the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. Two of Connecther project partners, Partners in Health and the Edna Adan Hospital run maternal mortality reduction projects for young women in Africa. Many women die of causes that could be prevented if they had access to skilled delivery assistance and emergency obstetric care.”

- Lila Igram, Connecther Founder

Connecther matches donors with projects that are providing
services to women and children in developing communities
(Photo from


Hope-2o and I partnered up to raise money for the Girl Effect
Hope-2o is an organization whose mission is “to eliminate the use of plastic water bottles by giving every individual in the United States a stainless steel water bottle.” Hope-2o forms partnerships with other organizations or individuals whose missions they support to create customized stainless steel water bottles. These water bottles are sold on Hope-2o's website, and profits from the bottles benefit both Hope-2o and their partner charity or organization. A couple of months ago, President Peter Hall contacted me after seeing my “It Only Takes a Girl” video, suggesting that we partner up and make these awesome water bottles to raise money for The Girl Effect and Hope-2o. Other great causes, such as Hope to Haiti, Earth Day, and UrbanPromiseInternational, have also joined forces with Hope-2o to sell great water bottles to reduce plastic waste and support a worthy cause.

Girls Learn International:

Girls Learn International gives American students a voice in the movement for universal girls’ education. The GLI Program supports the empowerment of American students as they discover that through their own creative initiatives, dedication, and passionate leadership, students can create real solutions that address the obstacles facing girls and women in developing countries and be leaders in the movement to affect positive change for girls and women worldwide.

“Girls Learn International has 85 Chapters at middle schools and high school throughout the US. GLI Chapters learn about human rights and issues that contribute to discrimination against girls. After they are up and running for a while they are matched with a partner school in a developing country where girls still lag behind boys in access to education. Chapters communicate with their partner schools throughout the year. Chapters also hold a big event in spring semester to raise awareness in their communities, and raise money for GLI partner schools.” 

- Ashley Steimer-King, Program Director

The Fistula Foundation:

Obstetric fistulas are the most devastating and serious of all childbirth injuries. It happens because most mothers in poor countries give birth without any medical help. So many are young girls. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are among the leading causes of death and disability for women of reproductive age in these places.

$85 can help provide nursing care for one patient
(Photo from
After enduring days of agonizing, obstructed labor a woman's body is literally broken by childbirth. During labor contractions, the baby's head is constantly pushing against the mother’s pelvic bone — causing tissue to die due to lack of blood flow to this area. All of that pushing creates a hole, or in medical terms a "fistula," between the birth passage and an internal organ such as the bladder or rectum. A woman cannot hold her urine, and sometimes bowel content as well. Her baby is unlikely to survive. If she survives, a woman with fistula is likely to be rejected by her husband because of her inability to bear more children and her foul smell. She will be shunned by her community and forced to live an isolated existence. These women suffer profound psychological trauma resulting from their utter loss of status and dignity, in addition to suffering constantly from their physical internal injury.

The numbers are staggering. Right now, hundreds of thousands of women are suffering from this heartbreaking, treatable childbirth injury because they are too poor to afford surgery that costs about $450. This number keeps growing bigger. Each year approximately 100,000 women develop this childbirth injury—or 273 each day. The international capacity to treat fistula patients has been estimated at 6,500 a year—or 18 patients each day. Surgeons would describe this as an enormous backlog of untreated patients. There is clearly an overwhelming need for treating far more women.

The Fistula Foundation believes that no woman should have to suffer a life of shame and isolation for trying to bring a child into the world. We are dedicated to raising awareness of and funding for fistula repair, prevention, and educational programs worldwide to help eradicate fistula.

For more information, please read this print-friendly document about obstetric fistulas.

More Than Me:

With a little help, the girls in Liberia can do it.
"I live and work in Liberia, West Africa which just so happens to be the 3rd poorest countries in the world and a close relative of America. It's kinda nuts, 60% of the kids are out of school and more than half of them are girls. When I asked moms why they don't put their girls in school they tell me they don't have any money. School is kinda free, but not really. The government is poor and can't quite pay the teachers, so they end up volunteering and don't show up a lot of the time. It's also kinda dangerous because there is something called, 'sex for grades.'

We help young girls get off the street and into school from one of the world's most notorious slums, 'West Point.' We target child prostitutes and girls at extremely high risk of being sucked into that life, i.e. their moms already have been. We bribe them to do well in school, and it actually works; 10% are first in their class! The problem is that after school, they go back to the dangerous slum where they are at risk again. I was completely horrified to find out just a month ago that there was an attempted rape of one of our 10-year-olds. Unfortunately, this is somewhat normal and I'm committed to do whatever it takes to STOP IT! 

After talking to the girls, the community and the school where the girls go we decided we need to build a girls center to keep them safe after school. It will serve 500 children. They will learn beading, sewing, baking and other things they can use to make money. We'll also teach them cool things like how to use computers, the internet and social media. We'll have social workers and tutors to help them with their homework. A place like this that will help 500 girls is only $100,000 to build and run for a year and will only cost $40,000 a year to maintain!

We get little girls off the street and into school in one of the world’s most dangerous slums in the world in Liberia, West Africa. We work with community leaders to identify the girls who are at the highest risk of being sexually exploited to ensure that education and opportunity, not exploitation and poverty, defines their lives. We pay tuition, provide school lunch and we work with the school and community to make it impossible for her to fail. And it's working."

- Katie Meyler, Founder
A girl who started selling herself at age 10, and who is now at the top of her class is a centralized reporting mechanism for instances of human trafficking. It is currently available on a variety of media, so that no matter who you are, where you are, or what language you speak, you are able to identify trafficked people to relevant organizations and increase the possibility of emancipation. Several countries have country-level reporting systems, but if someone doesn't already know the appropriate organization for whatever country they happen to be in, avoids the need to research it, and forwards information to the correct group. Given that often people are trafficked across borders, this is of vital importance.

If you have an organization that shares a range of values with, you could become part of the "" alliance in these ways:

A link to from your website - will be most effective if it is easily discovered by people. As such, a link-back would be of benefit in two ways: firstly, through contact with visitors to your site, and secondly because the more websites that link to, the higher it will appear in search results on engines such as Google. This will facilitate the process of locating the site, reporting trafficking, and therefore emancipation of trafficked people. This link could accompany the logo, a description, or stand on its own.

A link to your site from, and logo on our "Alliance" page
 - As part of the alliance, we would show your proud logo with a link back to your site on the "Alliance" page.

Connections to other anti-human trafficking organizations
 - If you already have connections with anti-human trafficking groups or organisations, we would very much appreciate your letting us know of this connection. In an area such as trafficking, which is so prone to corruption, the approbation of an organisation by a alliance member would help to improve quality control. This in turn would improve the service overall.

Connections on social media - 
If your organisation has a profile on social media such as Facebook or Twitter, we would appreciate your connecting with's Facebook and Twitter. This too would help to raise awareness of the site and improve the possibility of emancipation for victims of trafficking.


Be the LitWorld story. (Photo from 
LitWorld believes that literacy is a human right and key to improving the lives of millions of girls and women around the world. Worldwide, 793 million people are illiterate, and two-thirds of those are girls. People with lower literacy skills are far more likely to suffer the consequences of working and living in unsafe or dangerous environments, and they often die earlier from preventable causes. All over the world, children are hungry for learning and for the power it brings. Research shows that children learn to read and write best by writing and telling the stories of their own experiences. Yet it is rare to find safe spaces where children feel fully comfortable to do so.

LitWorld is changing that. LitWorld’s mission is to use the power of story to cultivate literacy skills in the world’s most vulnerable children. LitWorld advocates for literacy as an urgent human right that belongs to every child. LitWorld stands on three Core Pillars: Education, Advocacy and Innovation. These pillars together create a complete approach to how we can impact outcomes for the world’s children and help them become fully engaged citizens. All children have the right to read, to write, and to share their words to change the world.

Note: Most of the information in this blog post comes directly from the websites of these organizations.