By Sarah Pride
Patrick Henry College
A visit to the main page of the International Justice Mission (IJM) website causes one to shy away instinctively, clapping hands, if not over one’s eyes, over one’s heart. For the last 13 years, this human rights agency has sought to secure justice for “victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.” Although its advocates have spoken hope into the lives of thousands, it is obvious that each story on its website merely represents dozens of other, similar tales that have passed unknown and un-mourned. Its fight will last, unfortunately, for decades to come.
Meanwhile, a group of passionate Patrick Henry College students has signed up to join this worldwide battle against sex traffickers and oppressors of innocents. The student-run IJM club seeks to raise funds and spread awareness of this issue on-campus and in the community. Imminently, on October 23, they will network with other activists and organizations at the End Modern Slavery walk in Washington, D.C. Previously, they have raised money for the Polaris Project by running a clothing drive, and they have managed a showing of the documentary At the End of Slavery at PHC to raise awareness. A few weeks ago they invited Dr. Wayne Barnard, IJM’s Director of Student Ministries, to speak in chapel. In the spring, 2011 semester, says club president Natasha Malik, they hope to run a much more ambitious charity concert.
Natasha Malik, current president of PHC's student IJM club
As a teen, the scales fell painfully off Malik's eyes when she first saw the fictionalized documentary Human Trafficking on television. Shocked at the sight of other young women being kidnapped and sold, she knew she had to find out more. Since she was involved in speech and debate, Malik researched the topic and did speeches on it, tying it in with smuggling and illegal immigration.
“We think slavery happens around the world, but we don’t realize it could be happening in our backyard!” exclaims Malik, sharing the shocking fact that “17,500 people are trafficked into our country—the United States—each year!
“It’s so hidden from us and our privileged lives,” she says.
Similarly, everyone at PHC knows that junior Alan Carrillo, vice president of the IJM club, lives with a burning passion to provide a voice for the voiceless. Recently accepted for an internship with IJM in spring 2011, Carrillo communicates that his personal missions is “combating injustice in general and human trafficking in particular, in order to help human beings, who are made in the image of God, live free lives as God’s justice is manifested here on Earth.”
Malik, Carrillo, and the others whom Carrillo calls “self-driven club members with whom I am so excited to serve” are excited to participate in Saturday’s walk in D.C. They have started a fundraising team, whom anyone can support by clicking “register” on the End Modern Slavery walk website and choosing the team “PHC’s IJM Club.” The students are also eager for anyone from the community to join them in D.C.; again, participants need to register on the walk website. Registration costs $5/student and $10 for anyone else. The walk itself will proceed from 9:00am until noon. Contact Natasha Malik for more details.
“We want to make PHC students aware that the world is so much bigger than our little microcosm,” says Malik, who hopes one day to intern in India, where her father grew up. “We can all be modern-day abolitionists, whether we just stop to offer up a prayer, or whether we give of our time and money.”