Childhood is both magical and fleeting. That’s why kids should be spending their time playing and learning — not being worked to the point of exhaustion.
Unfortunately, many children and young adults around the world are forced into grueling, non-paying labor by human traffickers who profit off of them. But thanks to the incredible work of International Justice Mission, thousands are getting their freedom back.
The nonprofit is on a mission to end modern-day slavery by partnering with local law enforcement and justice systems to coordinate rescues, help trafficking victims heal and move on, and stop their abusers from exploiting anyone else. Because of them, many survivors have found hope again, like the young laborers rescued in South Asia last year.
In September 2019, the organization freed 76 trafficking victims from an appalling existence. Forty-four were just children, with boys as young as 10, while the rest were young men. Trafficked from West Bengal to Chennai, South Asia, they were put to work in jewelry factories for 14 hours a day, then slept on thin straw mats in one room as their oppressors watched through CCTV cameras.
Their lives weren’t their own.
The boys and young men were tasked with making hundreds of pieces of gold jewelry every day, burning their hands with chemicals and breathing fine metal dust. Some had been working there for 10 years and had the scars to prove it.
While they obviously weren’t being cared for, someone did care. An anonymous person tipped off a local lawyer, who reached out to International Justice Mission. After pinpointing seven factories, the organization planned two rescue missions for September 6 and 11 — and saved them all.
When a social worker told one group of survivors they were going back to their families, they cheered, danced, and ran to embrace their rescuer in a moving celebration. They’d all survived this together, and now, they were free!
Four factory owners were arrested days later, and finally, the boys regained their stolen childhoods.
“Most of the boys rescued are very young. When they were rescued and brought to our vehicle, they started playing — and that is how they should be,” one IJM staff member said.
Without the wonderful people at International Justice Mission, these boys and young men — along with countless others — may never have seen their families again. So please, if you can, donate here to help more trafficking victims find hope and joy again.
This article is sponsored by our friends at International Justice Mission.
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