International Justice Mission's work helps people break free from their life of slavery, through partnership and prayer.
"Think of $20 and what it can get in Canada," says David Pollendine, the National Director of Development Growth for International Justice Mission (IJM) Canada. "You might get a junior ticket to the movie theatre for two or perhaps a meal for one. In Canada, that money just goes. But for someone in South Asia, that $20 could buy a child medicine they need. Or it could buy food for a month for a family. It goes a lot further."
Pollendine explains that some families that need money out of necessity are taken advantage of. They start working for someone who offers them the money upfront, but then, when the person tries to pay it off, they cannot. This is bonded labour slavery.
"Once they get them into the factory, the next thing that happens is, they say they're going to charge interest on that loan. It's not like interest here where we're haggling over five per cent. We're talking 1000 per cent interest at a rate that is impossible to pay back. That family can be trapped in slavery not just over their lifetime but even whole generations."
Of the 50 million people trapped in modern-day slavery or trafficking to date, one in four are trapped in bonded labour slavery. Also, one in four people trafficked live in South Asia.
"What keeps them from leaving is violence or the threat of violence."
Story of Hope
Pollendine shares a story of how one boy was able to escape his bonded labour slavery situation in South Asia.
"When Kumar was young, he lost his parents and he went in to serve the debt of his parents. They owed money to a person who owned a brick kiln and he had to go and work there as a slave."
Kumar saw firsthand what happens to people who try to leave a life of slavery.
"Two boys tried to run away and they both had their hands chopped off as a punishment. So you can see that no child or adult is going to try and run away. Brutilization is a big part of the control where they'll make an example of an individual, even beat them to death, but that will stop anyone else from running away."
This is the case unless someone comes and tries to rescue them. This is part of the work that IJM focuses on to help free people in slavery. IJM was able to help Kumar out of his situation and today he is a social worker.
What Can Be Done to Help People Caught in Slavery
"We really do rely on God and prayer is a big one for us because this work is God's work," says Pollendine. "He cares so much more about these individuals and cares more about dealing with bonded labour slavery, so that gives us a confidence to act."
The work at IJM is done in partnership on various levels.
"The way we are able to effectively rescue, restore, and go after the perpetrator and rebuild the justice system is all through partnering. With the government, the aftercare workers. It also means partnering with the global stakeholders because they're all involved. In fact, we're all involved."
- Man from Australia sentenced to 15 years after exploiting children online
- Justice Discipleship Training aims to raise up church and fight human trafficking
- FBI free over 80 children in U.S. from being sexually trafficked
The slavery often happens right at the beginning of where any product begins; the supply chain.
"We know that almost everything we wear, slavery has probably touched it, at some point in the supply chain. If it's a brand name, the reason we can get it at the price we do is because there's somebody doing it for nothing somewhere. I think we have a responsibility as individuals to say, 'What can I do?' There are websites where you can buy ethically."
Pollendine, along with the Christian organization, believes that as individuals take steps to end human trafficking and modern-day slavery, it will make a difference around the world.
"Partnering on the ground is really important. In South Asia we've been very successful at partnerships with other NGO's that come from South Asia. That's good beacuse we don't know how long we can be working in that place. We value having local NGO's that are doing the work and that's happening across the region."
If people become a Freedom Partner before the end of September, their monthly gift will be doubled for the next 12 months.
"It's a National campaign but we have had two geneorous donors from Winnipeg and they've put in $50,000 and said we will match up to $50,000. We are very excited about this. This money goes towards tackling bonded labour slavery."
For more information on the work being done by IJM or to become a monthly partner, click here.