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IJM coming together at ASU to end slavery

By Caleb Hennington
On January 26, 2012

According to conservative estimations, there are thought to be about 27 million people enslaved or human trafficking victims in the world today.

A few students at ASU realize that slavery is still alive today and have started an International Justice Mission Chapter at the university.

The IJM is an organization dedicated to stopping slavery all across the planet by raising awareness of the problem of slavery, helping the trapped and enslaved, supporting the freed slaves by helping them find jobs and preventing future enslavement.

The IJM's website states that their vision is "to rescue thousands, protect millions and prove that justice for the poor is possible."

Nathan Shelby, a history major at ASU, started the IJM chapter at ASU after he and others returned from the Passion 2012 Christian Conference in Atlanta, GA.

"The theme of the conference this year was human trafficking," Shelby said. "We learned that 27 million people are still enslaved today, and that really opened my eyes and convicted me to do something about it when I got back to school."

Dylan Travis, a sophomore chemistry major, and Taylor Burrington, a sophomore English major, attended the conference as well. They said they too felt a burden for the enslaved and started making plans with Shelby for an IJM chapter at ASU soon after returning from the conference.

"Right now there are more people enslaved in the world than any other time in history. There are currently even more slaves than when the Civil War was fought in the 1800s," Travis said.

IJM's goals are pretty straightforward: to raise awareness that slavery still exists today, to raise support for the cause through volunteers and monetary gain and to advocate for those who are enslaved by contacting local officials and informing them of the problem.

"I don't believe in limits. Our group hopes to raise at least $1,000 to go towards stopping human trafficking and helping the former slaves get back to their lives," said Burrington.

When a sex trading ring or brothel is discovered by the IJM, the local police are informed and are then sent out to raid the compounds and rescue any slaves they find.

The IJM has already gained national attention and support from some large corporations. Google Inc. donated $11.5 million last month to IJM and 10 other organizations focused on stopping slavery and human trafficking.

The University of Arkansas and John Brown University have the only other IJM chapters at Arkansas universities.

The ASU chapter of IJM plans to meet every Sunday at 5 p.m. on the third floor of the Student Union, in the lobby across from Centennial Hall.

"In our first meeting we hope to just get everyone informed about what IJM's mission is and to research some of the issues that are going on," Shelby said.

The ASU IJM is not officially a school-sanctioned organization right now.

"We hope to get it sanctioned for next year as an official organization," Shelby said.

Shelby said he also wants to emphasize that ASU's IJM isn't the only option if someone wants to get involved with the organization.

"You don't have to join our chapter specifically, we just want people's involvement in the organization," Shelby said.

If you would like to know more information about the IJM at ASU, you can go to their Facebook page at facebook.com/IJM-ASU.

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