Freeing those trapped by the 'bonds of debt'

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Urmila (Indian lady) holds up her identity card © Image courtesy of International Justice Mission: Urmila becomes a first time voter at the age of 75. According to Hannah Flint, Regional Development Executive, North of England - INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE MISSION® UK: "There are two reasons why I have loved working for International Justice Mission (IJM); the people I work with, and the people I work for. My colleagues in IJM India work alongside local authorities to rescue thousands of victims of slavery and trafficking each year. They restore survivors through a two year aftercare plan, bring criminals to justice by pursuing them through local courts. They also work tirelessly to strengthen the justice system, ultimately helping to protect those people who live in poverty from ever being enslaved or trafficked in the first place. They serve people like Urmila, rescued from a life of bonded slave labour in 2013. This Grandmother had been trapped in slavery for decades, trying to pay off an illegal debt that she and her family had no prospect of ever paying off. They laboured in a brick kiln for 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, always fearful of the violence they would suffer if they dared to rest. But for Urmila and 148 others trapped alongside her, freedom came when local authorities and IJM conducted a rescue operation on their facility. As part of her aftercare plan, IJM social workers helped Urmila register for an ID card enabling her to proudly take part in the national elections in 2014 for the very first time in her life: finally being recognised as a citizen with a voice to be heard. IJM’s staff are often people who have overcome huge hurdles in their own lives before going on to help others. Take Sanjay Macawan, for example, who leads the IJM Mumbai office. Born into the Dalit community himself, Sanjay describes a life “defined by intrinsic poverty, humiliation, exploitation and despair.” He toiled as a casual labourer for 22 years but never gave up hope - he saved money for his studies and gained a Masters level education, joining IJM in 2011 to lead the team with outstanding compassion and dedication. IJM's Anu George leads a rescue operation © Image courtesy of International Justice Mission: Anu George leads a rescue operation Or Anu George: a fiery lady who leads the IJM work in Dehli who has seen conducting a rescue operation where several hundred bonded slave labourers were set free in one day. Her passion for the work of rescue, restoration and prevention is utterly inspiring. During my time with IJM I have learned that justice is possible for people who live in poverty, but it comes through the sheer hard work and dedication of a team of people working together. Seeing lives transformed, from despair and hopelessness, to freedom and independence, makes all the hard work more than worth it." Join us at the International Slavery Museum at 1pm on 30 January for a FREE event: 'Bonds of Debt'. Hear from representatives of the following organisations about the ways in which they are fighting to bring about an end to modern slavery: Bonded labour is the most common type of modern slavery in India affecting an estimated 10 to 15 million people. Much of it goes unreported and some officials deny that bonded labour even exists.