School, work and fun nights downtown consume most students’ time. But one new student group is advocating that everyone take a minute to think about sexual slavery in other countries instead of last night’s “Sex and the City” in hopes of igniting students to action.
Organizer Sarah May, a junior from Atlanta, first realized she wanted to fight against the sex slave trade after she read the book “Half the Sky” by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn.
Her friend happened to pick the book up after seeing something about it in Oprah and told May that this was a must-read.
After feeling empowered by the book about her ability to make a difference to young girls, May decided to make a University-approved club to raise awareness.
She came up with EGGS, which stands for Educating Girls to Guarantee Survival.
Since she closed the back cover on the book, she has organized the group, planned fundraisers and gotten a group of early members together to help raise money to build a school in Cambodia.
“This book is interesting because they write it from the perspective that we can do something to help,” May said. “They talk about the best ways to make a difference. We were inspired by that.”
According to May, EGGS has been in direct contact with the chair for American Assistance for Cambodia, and the group plans to raise $19,000 to build a school for children so that they can avoid situations like sexual slavery.
“We set that goal for the end of next spring,” May said.
“I think the most important things EGGS will do is establish a school that will serve not just as a place for education, but also a safe place for children to go during the day, reducing their vulnerability to sex traffickers and kidnappers,” said Lily Feinberg, an EGGS’ group member . “Knowing that I could hypothetically be changing girls’ lives through EGGS is a good feeling.”
The group believes that families in extreme poverty are sometimes forced to put their children on the streets to earn what money they can.
EGGS strives to eliminate this sad reality and let families know they have other options.
Once the $19,000 mark has been hit, EGGS plans to continue to raise money for the Girls be Ambitious Program.
The program, which is run through American Assistance for Cambodia, provides incentives for families to keep their young girls and for the girls to attend school.
The organization pays monthly stipends of $10 a month to children who attend school and $120 a year if they have perfect attendance.
“A lot of times the girls will be promised a job far away, and they accept it because the family needs money,” May said.
“Then these girls are kidnapped and chained and forced to work against their will, and their parents don’t hear from them.”
The monthly stipends are designed to allow for these families to have a steady income while allowing their children to continue with their education.
“Women who are more educated are more likely to stand up for themselves in these cases,” May said. “And if they set their goal for going to school, they won’t feel like they have to take this certain job that they know nothing about.”
Sonia Chopra, a junior at UGA, recently joined the group because she said the cause is very important to her.
“There are so many horrible things going on in the world right now that so few people know about, and I believe that child trafficking and the sex-slave industry are two of the worst,” Chopra said.
“Advocacy and raising awareness are such important parts of any organization involved in social justice, which is why it’s great to see a group like EGGS on campus. It’s a group that can get people involved to make a difference in girls’ lives.”
What: EGGS first meeting
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Tate room 481
More Information: Email the group at firstname.lastname@example.org