Friday, November 30

More Than Me

Katie in Liberia with one of the girls
Back in February, I got an email with the subject, “Not a super hero or a celebrity just a girl.” The email was from a clearly passionate and inspiring woman named Katie Meyler who had seen my video on YouTube, recognized our shared passion for girls' education and wanted to reach out to me. She told me a little about her organization, More Than Me. “I live and work in Liberia, West Africa which just so happens to be the third poorest country in the world,” she explained. “It's kinda nuts—60% of the kids are out of school and more than half of them are girls.”

What More Than Me does for these girls, she told me, is get them off the streets and into school. More Than Me especially targets child prostitutes—girls who have no other option than to sell their bodies as young as nine or ten years old—or girls who have a high risk of being pulled into that life. Indeed, as many as 80% of girls in Liberia resort to prostitution to survive (according to

There is only one government school in West Point, the 75,000 person Liberian slum in which More Than Me works. Even when families can afford to send their daughters to school, the girls often face various forms of abuse and exploitation, including “sex for grades.” Because of this problem, More Than Me not only helps the girls get an education, but it is also working to provide them with a safe place to go after school. In this center, girls will learn how to bead, sew, bake, and other skills that could help them make money.

I have stayed in touch with Katie since February, and now I am participating as an outreach coordinator for their biggest project ever: More Than Me is a contestant in this year's Chase American Giving Awards competition, and they have the chance to win $1 million. With this kind of money, More Than Me could help thousands of Liberian girls work toward a better future—one that does not include prostituting themselves at a very young age.

This girl started selling herself at age 10, and she's
now in 2nd grade and top of her class!
The way More Than Me wins is simple: they need the most votes. To vote, you can visit, which will direct you to the Chase voting page. All you have to do is sign into your Facebook account, click the blue “vote” button, allow application, go to app, then click the same blue vote button one more time. It seems a little convoluted, but the whole process takes only thirty seconds. That is a small price to pay to raise your voice against the injustices suffered by Abigail—the face of More Than Me's campaign—and thousands of other girls just like her.

More Than Me is a relatively new organization—about three years old. But already Katie and the team at More Than Me have made an enormous impact in the lives of so many vulnerable girls. It is easy to see that with a little help, they could make a truly incredible difference in Liberia and in the world.

“I don't know much about you,” Katie ended the email back in February. “But it is obvious we share a passion for girls' education.” Educating girls is one of the most important things we can do to build a brighter future for everyone on the planet. Abigail and the other girls in West Point may be thousands of miles away, but they are just like you and me. The only difference is that because of where they were born, they may never be educated, never even have a clean glass of drinking water or a satisfying meal, without having to sell their bodies on the streets of Liberia. I do not think this is okay. Katie doesn't think this is okay. Thousands of people are standing up, writing “I am Abigail”on their foreheads, because they do not think this injustice is okay. We all need to come together to take a stand. What will you do?

VOTE on Facebook.
READ more about More Than Me and the Chase American Giving Awards.
WATCH the video that will air on NBC on December 8th.
JOIN Abigail's Tribe and help us get the most votes! Email with the subject “Tribe”.
WRITE “I am Abigail” on your forehead (or anywhere) and tag More Than Me Foundation on Facebook.
SPREAD the word—every last vote counts!

Some More Than Me supporters

Monday, November 5

Shanti Bhavan

Dear Readers,

Today I would like to talk to you about the Shanti Bhavan Children's Project. Shanti Bhavan is a school in Tamil Nadu, India, founded with the mission of helping the most disadvantaged children from the lowest "untouchable" caste to develop into educated and empowered adults. To that end it provides them with a world-class academic and personal education. Most importantly, it provides these children with a safe and secure home such as they could not otherwise find. You can learn more about the amazing work Shanti Bhavan does on their website.

Boys study at Shanti Bhavan
The founder of Shanti Bhavan, Dr. Abraham George, believes that, "If we can take a few children and give them the best care and the best education, and they become leaders of tomorrow, they will carry with them hundreds of others." In so doing, we will begin to break the cycle of poverty.

I have recently become involved with Shanti Bhavan through a club I am part of here at Tulane. We are working towards the goal of raising $1,600 for Shanti Bhavan, which covers the cost of supporting 1 student for 1 year. If we succeed in this goal we will sponsor Shilpa, a 6th grade student who shows a lot of promise. You can learn more about Shilpa's personal story by following this link.

I would really like to encourage you to donate to Shanti Bhavan. As the holidays draw near, it is important to be thankful for what we have, and to remember those who have less. We are lucky enough to live in a country where disposable income is a reality, and where even if we carve out a little money to give away, we can still depend on getting our next meal. Shanti Bhavan is an amazing cause because it not only changes the lives of its own students, but it prepares them to lift up the entire Indian nation along with them. I cannot think of a better use for some extra cash.

Please donate here, and let me know when you do so we can track progress toward our goal, either by leaving a comment, emailing me at, Tweeting me @OnlyTakesAGirl, or messaging me on Facebook!

Thank you for your support and commitment to improving our world,


P.S. I encourage you to share this message with your friends, your family or anyone else you know who wants to support children's education in India and build a brighter future for our entire planet. :)

Thursday, November 1

TEDxTU in The Hullabaloo

My friend Ashley covered the TEDxTU event for Tulane's weekly paper, The Hullabaloo. I have a quote in the story!



Twelve leaders from the Tulane and New Orleans communities came together on Thursday to speak at the TEDxTU event on campus in the Kendall Cram room.

Technology, Entertainment and Design, is an organization whose slogan is “ideas worth spreading.” TED organizes lectures on a variety of topics, and TEDx consists of independently organized TED events. At Tulane, TEDxTU is run by TU Changemakers.

“For TED, we start [planning] right after the last event, so we started in the spring semester talking about how we could improve,” TU Changemakers President Mary Bryan said.

This year, TEDxTU focused on social innovation. The night started off with a speech from President Scott Cowen about reimagining Tulane after Hurricane Katrina, and transforming Tulane into an institution of social innovation.

“You won’t be remembered by what you did for yourself,” Cowen said. “You’ll be remembered for what you did for others.”

Several speakers followed, including Tulane students Anoop Jain, Haley Burns, Sam Turner and Gabriella Runnels and Tulane professors Vicki Mayer and Jordan Karubian.

“We did a nomination process for most of [the speakers] this year and had the speakers send in a video of themselves speaking so we could get an idea of how they would be,” Bryan said.

Runnels spoke about a project that she completed for a Tulane scholarship application. Her project included a video that went viral and helped launch her organization, “It Only Takes a Girl.”

“I was asked to apply for the event at the beginning of the summer, before I was even a student at Tulane,” Runnels said. “[The organizers] were very respectful of the speakers. It was all really self-motivated.”

Topics throughout the night ranged from sustainable urban farming to building bathrooms in India.

“The topics and speakers were very intriguing,” senior Chandler Davis said. “I’m glad I attended.”