Yoga really does have the power to change the world—and that power just keeps growing. Every year, Off the Mat (OTM) and Into the World, the nonprofit organization started by Seane Corn, Hala Khouri and Suzanne Sterling to create sustainable change throughout the planet, holds a Seva Challenge. This is a fundraising drive in which people are challenged to raise at least $20,000 for a particular cause. If they can raise the money, they join OTM on a philanthropic trip—The Bare Witness Tour—to volunteer their time to that cause.
For 2012, the Seva Challenge was focused on combating sex trafficking in India, and supporting organizations that are providing refuge, rehabilitation and economic opportunities to survivors. In one year, 215 participants signed up and the campaign collectively raised a total of $1,001,028. Forty people raised more than $20,000, and will join OTM in India Feb.17.
According to OTM’s Global Seva Manager Rebecca Rogers, the amount raised was the highest annual amount to date. “It is shocking to many people that sex trafficking is such a common occurrence, even here in the United States,” she says. “Just talking about the issue and raising awareness can be very healing for communities that have struggled with sexual violence, and raising such a large amount of money can be very empowering for fundraisers, many of whom eventually start their own projects and organizations in their communities after the Seva Challenge is over.”
Since launching the challenge in 2007, OTM has raised more than $3 million for humanitarian projects in Cambodia, Uganda, South Africa, Haiti, and India. The 2013 campaign has already begun, and it will focus on protecting rainforests in the Amazon, as well as the rights of the people who live there. Visit Off the Mat to find out how to get involved.