By Thomas Moran | Staff Writer
The Baylor chapter of the International Justice Mission is holding a series of events for their Rally4Freedom week. The group hosted its first Rally4Freedom gathering, “Ghana and Tunnel of Oppression,” Monday evening in the Student Union Building.
Fort Worth junior Bailey VanNatta led the event and guided the group through a series of videos, introspective questions and broad discussions to highlight certain injustices that currently pose a problem in Ghana.
“The goal for the event was just to educate people who aren’t members with IJM because a lot of people come to our events that don’t come to our regular meetings,” VanNatta said. “So, we wanted to focus on Ghana, but also introduce people to other missions that IJM has such as sex trafficking, police brutality, things of that nature.”
Some of the videos featured the stories of young enslaved children in Ghana who are forced to work in terrible conditions. One geographic area that the International Justice Mission faces is Lake Volta in Ghana where children as young as four years old work long hours to fish.
According to the International Justice Mission website, children are forced to to rise before dawn to go onto the lake to dive an untangle fishing nets with drowning as a constant threat. The videos featured several boys who had been saved through the efforts of the International Justice Mission. One individual never saw his family again after becoming enslaved and one had a brother still working on the lake.
Many people forget that slavery did not end when it was abolished from the United States in 1865, VanNatta said. However, there are still over 40 million people still enslaved world wide and some forms of slavery persist in the United States today.
Dallas freshman Alison Rogers attended the event and has done international human rights work in the past. In her view, everyone should be involved in fighting injustice on a global level.
“People matter and their stories matter because they’re part of the narrative,” Rogers said. “They’re part of what’s going on in the world … You should be listening to the people who are living through it. You should be trying to come alongside them and you can’t do that unless you know their stories.”
Other events that Baylor International Justice Mission is holding for Rally4Freedom this week include a Public Deliberation Discussion and an educational event highlighting Human Trafficking and Medicine.
The group is providing several opportunities for students to contact the offices of politicians to push for legal change. VanNatta highlighted this as just one example of the actions college students can make to promote change.
“We as college students, though it might seem miniscule, we can do something about it by educating ourselves, by educating ourselves, by being aware and making other people aware of it,” Vannatta said.
To students who feel emotional apathy toward global injustices or feel that the burden of such issues falls on the shoulders of the countries that bear them, Sacramento Calif. senior Morgan Powell urges students to become more knowledgeable about the domestic pertinence of slavery, sex trafficking and other issues. As the chapter leader, Powell is particularly invested in the movements and efforts of the International Justice Mission.
“We have people in Waco who are on dairy farms who are forced to work here who should not be working here,” Powell said. “We have immigrants coming over from Mexico who are told if they come they’ll get citizenship and they don’t. It’s definitely not happening just in Ghana. It’s happening rapidly in California. It’s in Texas. We have kids who are being trafficked everyday. We have less of that sweat shop idea because we have laws that make it harder to hide, but sex trafficking is rampant.”