Students of the University of Michigan embody certain qualities that make them part of a distinguished group of “the leaders and best.” One of those qualities is having the courage to lead the way down a path that hasn’t been traveled before. LSA junior Joshua George and Engineering junior Anshul Mehta are one step closer to embodying this ideal after creating Michigan Mazaa, a new student organization dedicated to addressing human trafficking.
Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
At the Michigan
“Michigan Mazaa is a student organization that is dedicated to fighting the injustices of trafficking,” George said.
The group has partnered itself with a well-known, global human rights organization, the International Justice Mission, in an effort to gain credited help in its stand against violence, sexual exploitation, slavery and oppression. The organization is based out of Washington D.C., but works internationally. Michigan Mazaa is partners with the student chapter.
Connecting with students on campus is an important step in the success of any student organization at the University. In order for these organizations to achieve their objectives, they must connect with students through their goals and values. So, what makes human trafficking a relevant issue for university students?
“We’re a generation that doesn’t know about many of these issues,” George said. “When we formed our board, we found out more about it, and it resonated with people, and we were able to create this organization.”
It only took one summer for George to realize what a pressing issue human trafficking is. He spent time working for another human rights organization based in India.
“This past summer I had the opportunity to go to India and work in the red-light districts of Mumbai,” George said. “When I came back to campus, I wanted to continue working on this and engage the community inside of our culture and direct them to a good cause.”
“Why we chose to focus on this issue is that none of these people have a voice, and we’re providing them with a voice,” said Mehta, Mazaa’s director of marketing, about the goals of his organization. “We are literally their ambassadors to the people who don’t know these facts and we’re giving a voice to the voiceless.”
Mazaa has planned a weekend filled with a variety of activities in order to engage the University and spread awareness. In order to fulfill their goal of raising funds to combat human trafficking, the group has organized its first event, a weekend festival, which will have three parts. The first is a Festifall-like event on the Diag that involves different groups on campus that work against human trafficking to get the knowledge out about the issue. Mazaa has also organized a dodgeball tournament this Saturday and Michigan’s first ever Bollywood dance competition, A2 Dhoom, on Saturday night.
The organization has invited colleges such as the University of Texas, University of Maryland and Ohio State University, among others, to compete in the University’s first-ever Bollywood dance competition. The University’s very own Michigan Manzil will perform an exhibition dance as well.
“It’s really cool because we get to use these different events and use them for a good cause and rally the community around things that we enjoy — such as dance and sport — and remember that we direct our energies to a good cause that is fighting against human trafficking,” George said.
Tickets for the A2 Dhoom Bollywood Dance Competition will be sold throughout this week at the posting wall, Mason Hall and on Mazaa’s official website. The dodgeball tournament will be held at the Sports Coliseum on Saturday. All proceeds from ticket sales will be used as donation to the International Justice Mission for their fight against human trafficking.
“This is the first time that a lot of things have been done; this is the first that we’re going to have a Diag event solely for the purpose of raising awareness against human trafficking,” George said. “This is the first time that Michigan is hosting a dance competition, and this is the first time that we are engaging the community around this thought. This is the first time, and we hope to run with it in the future.”