Last year, junior David Beltran heard the heartfelt message of Gary Haugen, founder of International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights nonprofit organization.
This inspired Beltran to establish a chapter of IJM on campus to educate his peers about how modern-day slavery affects the lives of people today.
“What we’re trying to do here is raise awareness,” he said. “We’re raising our voices and raising support to end modern day oppression and injustices. There are people whose land has been unfairly seized by the government and people who are being unjustly incarcerated.”
IJM is also partnering with local child advocacy center Kristi House, a nonprofit that responds to child sex trafficking cases in Miami-Dade and aids in supporting the victims’ emotional and health needs to connect with the outside community.
While IJM’s primary focus is contributing to efforts of abolishing modern-day slavery, it also fights for a multitude of issues seen as aggressions against basic civil liberties, including sexual violence, abusive law enforcement practices and governmental property grabbing.
When he began building the club, Beltran sought the assistance of people from an organization he was already heavily involved in, Campus Crusade for Christ. With their help, he organized a group that was committed to IJM’s goal of improving the lives of those still living under slavery.
“[Slavery] is a huge issue in Miami, in the U.S. and in the world,” said David Duba, a member IJM. “IJM empowers students who are capable in a lot of different ways … It’s only the first year, and I’m impressed by the energy of the e-board and by the president’s ability to push the new club into existence and get so far.”
Beltran believes that the option of fighting against such slavery and global oppressive forces should be available for UM students.
“The campus really needs this organization because there’s no one else on campus making it their mission to represent modern-day slavery,” he said.
International Justice Mission meets every other Wednesday in UC 205.