By: Holly C. Corbett of The Lost Girls

It’s no secret that to really care about a place and to better understand people from a different culture, you have to go there. Traveling to distant lands helped me to realize that people are more alike than we are different. Whether you’re from Mongolia or Manhattan, we all have the same basic needs: The need to belong, to love and be loved, to feel like our lives matter to someone or for something.

Watching Half the Sky last night (a PBS documentary on the oppression of women and girls around the world) reminded me of what travel had already showed me: That we can all do something—big or small—to make this world we live in a better place. We can each play a part in shedding light on the darkness—be it poverty, pollution, or—a cause I’m personally passionate about—fighting sex trafficking.

In this documentary, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff helps shed light on some of the most pressing issues for women and girls across the globe, and visits New Light—an organization providing shelter, healthcare, education, and hope for the children of sex workers in India’s largest red light district. “What is so hard about being on the other side of the world is that sometimes changing one life doesn’t seem like enough. But it is. If you’re that girl who got rescued, that matters,” says and actress America Ferrara in the film, who visited the shelter in India with the Half the Sky team to help raise awareness.

The sad reality is that roughly 1.2 million children are sold into prostitution in India every year, and the average age of entry for a girl is 9 to 13 years old.

“Indian brothels are among the most brutal in the world. They will kill girls there who are uncooperative… If you are poor, rural, illiterate and a girl, you are seen as disposable,” says Kristof in the film. “The difference between us [middle class Americans] and the people who live in Kolkata is not that we’re smarter or more virtuous. It’s that we’re luckier. When we have won the lottery of life, there is some moral obligation that comes with it.”

Once people start paying attention, we can begin to solve the problem of this modern-day slave trade. Thanks to people like the Half the Sky team, awareness is spreading.

The Lost Girls -- Jen, Amanda and Holly --  take on a new name as The Runaway Bridesmaids to raise money to fight sex trafficking.

How are you going to help make the world a little better today than it was yesterday? One way you can help New Light is by taking a moment to pledge to Runaway Bridesmaids so that together we can begin to break the cycle of sexual slavery. Or follow your own passions and use them to do good, whether it’s taking a volunteer vacation or delivering supplies through an organization like mmMule.com to those in need on your next trip.

 

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Trends, Voluntourism

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Kathleen RellihanKathleen Rellihan is a digital producer, writer and editor for TravelChannel.com. A Washington, DC, resident, Kathleen's love for adventure travel has inspired her to go dog sledding in Quebec, search...

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