Off the Mat, Into The World

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 10.38.43 AMOff The Mat, Into the World – to support their continued work using yoga programming to inspire conscious sustainable activism and ignite grassroots social change. OTM’s mission is to use the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and ignite grassroots social change. They do this by facilitating personal empowerment through leadership trainings, fostering community collaboration, and initiating local and global service projects.

We at OLLI have witnessed first hand the magic and creativity that has come out of the OTM programs, which has truly enabled us to step off of our mats and into the world to make it a better place. We humbly give our utmost gratitude to OTM for empowering us to do so. Without their programming, leadership and guidance, it would not have been possible. A portion of this Years OLLI event will go back to OTM so that they can continue to provide scholarship opportunities for those who could not otherwise afford the attend the leadership programs.

Global Seva Challenge India Long Island

Global Seva Challenge India Long Island


2012 One Love – India

One Love 108 and Rock the Love are fundraisers for Off the Mat, Into the World (OTM). OTM’s mission is to use the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and ignite grassroots social change.  Their Global Seva Challenge is a transformational journey that builds community, provokes critical consciousness about global issues of social justice and equity, and raises significant funds to support communities in crisis.

Read the Press Release here.

The Challenge

The Global Seva Challenge 2012 aims to raise awareness of the root causes and impact of the global sex trafficking industry, support organizations in India that are providing refuge, rehabilitation and economic opportunities to survivors, and empower survivors to lead lives with dignity and respect.

The Facts:

Sex trafficking is a global issue that is inextricably linked with limited economic opportunities as well as social and cultural factors. The problem is made worse by lack of awareness, government corruption and poor enforcement of international anti-trafficking laws. The solution must ultimately include an understanding of the root causes of sex trafficking, stronger enforcement of laws, and greater opportunities for survivors to recover and reintegrate back into society in a healthy way. As yogis, we believe in a holistic approach to healing and empowerment. The Global Seva Challenge is an opportunity to discover your true leadership potential, build community, and actively participate in creating long term and sustainable solutions to eradicate sex trafficking worldwide.

What is sex trafficking?

Sex trafficking is a $32 billion industry worldwide. It is the third biggest criminal industry after drugs and arms trafficking.  An estimated 3 to 6 million women and children are enslaved for sex at any given time, nearly a million of whom are trafficked across international borders each year. The average age is 12 to 14.

In India, there are estimated to be 2 to 3 million sex trafficking victims. Child prostitution is socially acceptable in some parts of Indian society due to traditional practices and beliefs, and more than 30 percent of sex workers are believed to be children. In addition, recent Indian government statistics estimate that 3.5 million people (or three out of every 100 Indians) are now infected with HIV, 9 out of 10 of whom are under 45 years old.

As defined by the United Nations, sex trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.  Sex trafficking is accomplished by means of fraud, deception, threat or use of force, abuse of a position of vulnerability, and other forms of coercion. The majority of sex trafficking victims are women and young girls, but victims may also include men and boys. Victims are often lured into sex trafficking by:

* A promise of a good job or a better life
* A false marriage proposal
* Being sold by parents, husbands, or boyfriends in exchange for money
* Being kidnapped by traffickers

Sex traffickers use a variety of methods to “condition” their victims including starvation, confinement, physical abuse, rape, gang rape, threat of violence to the victim and the victim’s family, forced drug use, and the threat of shaming by revealing the victim’s activities to their family.

What are we doing about it?

This year, OTM will partner with a number of organizations at the forefront of sex trafficking rescue and rehabilitation efforts in India and worldwide. The Seva Challenge is committed to addressing immediate needs while contributing to long term solutions through:

* Education: educate ourselves and the general public about the issue, impact, and root causes of sex trafficking
* Awareness: launch the Yoga Freedom Project in collaboration with the Somaly Mam Foundation to raise awareness and funding, and implement a simultaneous campaign to explore the issue of sex trafficking in the United States as part of our Empowered Youth Initiative
* Refuge: work directly with orphanages and organizations that are rescuing and sheltering victims of sex trafficking
* Rehabilitation: support holistic programs to rehabilitate victims through  mental health and other forms of therapy, legal aid and advocacy, and provide medical services for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases
* Economic Opportunities: fund and support vocational training and job creation opportunities for sex trafficking survivors and women and girls at risk
* Empowerment: fund and support peer education and advocacy training as well as job creation and micro-loans for women survivors

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