Hearts for Charity By Casey Palmer | October 19, 2011 | RSS BC students recently shared their experiences giving time and money to make a difference in the lives of those living in other countries. Charities like Mud Love, Toms, and Charity Water all exist to meet the needs of people living without. Another student shared her experiences in Thailand working with Freedom 424, a non-profit organization based out of Lynchburg, Va., which operates to offer hope to girls forced into prostitution. Mud Love is just starting out but growing rapidly as people respond to the Central African Republic where people are not only suffering from a lack of water, but unsafe water and sanitation. The charity sells necklaces and bracelets for $5 to raise money and awareness for the cause. For every $5 a person spends, a person in Africa receives clean drinking water for a year. Some of the ways awareness is raised for specific charities Jordan Johnson, a junior from Chantilly, Va., found out about Mud Love through his girlfriend. “She told me about it and I thought it was a good cause so I looked up the website and began supporting it,” said Johnson. Committed to providing clean water, Mud Love trains Central Africans to build and maintain water wells. The charity says one well ensures 400 people will have water for 20 years. But Mud Love isn’t the only charity working to make water readily available in Africa. Charity Water is also meeting the need and students at BC are actively involved. Charity Water is a non-profit organization that gives 100 percent of public donations to directly fund water projects. The organization plants water wells and filtration systems in villages in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and South America. Slade said water is so contaminated in these places that babies die every 19 seconds from water-borne illnesses. “That really impacted me” said Slade. “And I wanted to make a difference.” Charity Water guarantees that $20 will give one person clean water for a year. This year Slade became so passionate about the work Charity Water does that she decided to “give up her birthday” for the cause. She posted a link on Facebook where her friends and family could make donations to Charity Water rather than give her gifts. “An hour later people started giving,” said Slade. “I thought it was so cool and I knew it was going to work so I prayed about it because I really wanted it to be successful.” Slade raised $240 for the charity by giving of herself and encouraging others to do the same. “It means so much to me because I couldn’t even imagine not having clean water,” said Slade. “We go to the sink and we take water for granted. We shower in clean water and these people are drinking dirty water.” Slade and other students at BC raise awareness by wearing Charity Water T-shirts and bracelets. Another charity supported by many students at BC is Toms, a company that matches every pair of shoe purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. People at BC are supporting Toms because the leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases and it can be prevented by wearing shoes. Cuts and sores on feet that cause infection can also be prevented. “Kids can’t go to school without shoes either,” said Johnson who not only supports Mud Love, but Toms as well. The shoes created and sold by Toms are for men, women, and child. “The price isn’t too expensive,” said Johnson. “They’re comfortable, I like wearing them a lot and I like the cause.” On April 5, students at BC celebrate One Day Without Shoes by walking to and from class barefoot to raise awareness on the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child’s life by taking off your own. “We do it for the cause and helping other people,” said Johnson. “Because we have it so easy around here and people in other countries don’t.” Toms recently came out with sunglasses to work towards giving sight to people in need; Johnson purchased a pair for $135. “Every pair you buy helps a person see,” Johnson said. Kayln Dolan, a sophomore from Lynchburg, Va. has not only taken action by giving to charities but also by going to the battlefield and working with non-profit organizations like Freedom 424. The organization provides relevant information, media and merchandise to raise awareness of the sexually exploited in Thailand. Through selling these products and receiving donations Freedom 424 is able to help bring women and children out of prostitution. “Twenty four dollars gets a girl out for 24-hours,” said Dolan. During that time the prostitute receives alternatives for education, employment, English lessons, food and housing. Dolan has worked with Freedom 424 since 2009. This summer she taught English at Beginnings, the house which partners with Freedom 424 in Thailand. But that isn’t all she did. During outreach hours Dolan worked directly with the prostitutes who work in the bars and those who are streetwalkers. There are two types of bars Freedom 424 goes in. The bottom level which is called a pool bar, looks like a bar you’d see in America but the girls wear numbers. “Guys will be like, “I want number 23 or whatever number,” said Dolan. Go-Go bars are the second type of bar Freedom 424 reaches out to. “There are worse bars that we don’t go in because it would do more damage to us than helping them,” said Dolan. Dolan became passionate about working with this organization after seeing a video at her church about the prostitutes. “The girls who were talking about it were my age and younger,” said Dolan. “I realized if I lived over there that would be me. And people don’t think about it like that but it just makes you realize how lucky you are even to just live here. It could never be as bad as that.” Dolan says this experience has changed her way of thinking the most. “I feel like I learn way more from them then they would ever learn from me,” said Dolan. “They never complain, they always smile and put on this face, and I have to put on a face when I’m there but I can’t hold it the whole day.” Dolan says the Thai women are ashamed of prostitution. “They know it’s wrong and they don’t want to do it,” said Dolan. “They’re like, ‘Yeah I have to pay for my brother to go to school or my mom is sick,’ but some of them are paying for luxuries their parents want, too.” Dolan was surprised when she went back to Thailand this summer and some of the girls remembered her. “I didn’t think we would make such an impression just being there,” said Dolan. “But that was our job, to just be there for them.” Dolan will return to Thailand in December for the annual Christmas party that’s hosted by Beginnings and Freedom 424 in honor of the Thai prostitutes.