Anton Casey and his team have devoted a great deal of time to training for their triathlon. Their efforts, however, weren't merely in the name of personal fitness goals or balancing their stressful corporate jobs with a meaningful hobby. The better they performed in this race, the more they would raise for The Little Sisters Fund, a Nepalese organization that supports and finances the education of young girls in Nepal, as well as the United States.

Global education for young girls is a worldwide social imperative. Many young women and girls become victims of child marriage, child labor, and sex trafficking in large part because of their poverty, lack of education, and inability to read. Dateline NBC's recent specials on sex trafficking highlight the challenges that many young women around the world face, often resulting in their becoming victims of the sex trade.

Dateline NBC investigated the process of recruiting young women for the sex trade, and found that the victims usually come from poor families. These girls are often told that they can escape their life circumstances by going overseas for work, and are lured by promises of earning money for their families as well as themselves. Brokers present the young women with contracts that they can't read, which contain terms that essentially enslave them and keep them in perpetual debt for the expenses involved with their travel and living arrangements.

According to Dateline, these contracts not only endanger the young women, but their families as well, with threats of dishonor and even violence towards the families if any of the victims attempt to escape. The threats, coupled with the young women finding themselves to be strangers in a foreign country with no support system and no ability to communicate with those around them, often proves to be more than enough to entrap the victims and frustrate the efforts of rescue organizations.

The Little Sisters Fund fully recognizes these issues, and has made great strides in offering Nepalese girls opportunities for a better life. The organization was started by Trevor Patzer when he traveled to Nepal and asked his friend and mentor Usha Acharya if there was a way he could help with the education of a Nepalese child. Acharya helped him to understand the difficulties that a Nepalese girl would encounter in attempting to get even the most basic education. The first girl to receive a scholarship through Patzer and what is now The Little Sister's Fund was named Bindhaya, and she is now a successful nurse and working towards her Master's degree. Today, there are more than 1,000 girls receiving scholarships through this organization.

The Little Sisters Fund effectively combines mentor-ship and scholarship through providing books, uniforms, and tuition as well as very hands-on guidance. As a result, the girls enrolled in the program perform extremely well on Nepal's SLC test, which every Nepalese student must take to continue their education beyond the 10th grade. With a national pass rate of just 36.15% for girls overall, The Little Sisters Fund participants had a pass rate of 100%.

Charitable organizations like The Little Sisters Fund are only able to continue their work though fundraising. They rely heavily on donations from their sponsors such as Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, The Honorable Lady Burrell's Charitable Trust, Rotary International, Joan Leidy Foundation, and The COMO Foundation.

Corporate donations are often part of a strategy that benefits the company as well as the organization. Companies use it to improve the image of their brand and also build a sense of community among employees.  Anton Casey himself is very well acquainted with philanthropy through corporate charitable competition. Casey and his team were committed in their efforts to train for the triathlon as hard as possible, knowing that the strength of their performance in the triathlon would determine how much money could be donated to The Little Sisters Fund. Casey has also supported LSF on a personal and individual level, attending their fundraisers and sponsoring young women enrolled in the program in his homeland of Singapore.

The Little Sisters Fund has seen positive results for many of the young women it has sponsored, with participants achieving success outside of their communities. Some of the girls have been able to attend college in the U.S., including two girls at Shenandoah University in Virginia, who are both on the Dean's List and performing exceptionally well.

Gender inequality and women's education are at the root of many social injustices. While the world battles these issues on a political level, The Little Sisters Fund, with help from corporate sponsors and individuals like Anton Casey, addresses the battle on a more personal level.

Lonni Delane contributed to this article.




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