Change is Happening
Like the 23 other slaves who worked alongside him, 16-year-old Subramani spent every day cutting, hauling and processing wood from deep in the Indian forest. When he was too sick to work, his owner took him to a vacant lot, tied him to a coconut tree and beat him with a wooden stick for punishment.
Being a slave like Subramani doesn't just mean working against your will. It means becoming the property of another person—who may beat, starve, humiliate and denigrate you. He and the other slaves were forced to live in the snake-infested forest where the wood they harvested grew: with no huts or homes, they slept outside. When the monsoon rains came, they huddled under a small overhang and shivered as water drenched their exposed bodies. Some had been trapped like this for more than 20 years—and things were getting worse. If nothing changed soon, they would literally starve to death.
It can be hard to see anything but hopelessness in these families' plights. But we are starting to see something else: change.
Fighting Slavery — Relentlessly
In 2010, we conducted a rescue operation with the local government to free the two dozen slaves from this wood-cutting operation. Though the head government official in the district worked with IJM to help free the families, he refused to accept the reality that slavery was happening in his district. He would not provide the official release certificates that would give these former slaves protection from their owner, nor the resources to rebuild their lives in freedom.
But we kept fighting—for two years. And this fall, the government provided these crucial documents to each man, woman and child rescued from slavery in that forest. From that moment on, their lives would never be the same.
This year in the U.S., we will commemorate the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation—when millions of American slaves received their first promise of freedom.
Amazingly, through support like yours, history is still being made today each time we provide rescued slaves like these a release certificate—their own personal emancipation proclamations. Last year, we partnered with the local government to secure release certificates for more than 400 slaves. We're now working with other anti-slavery organizations to train scores of government officials and rescue slaves in seven new Indian states.
I saw the result of these history-making changes myself when I visited with the families freed from the woodcutting operation a few weeks ago. These families who once had no homes now take obvious pride in the small village where they live in freedom: They've planted a small garden of purple flowers, and the goats they now tend for food and income roam about. The kids aren't cutting wood anymore; they're in school.
You can help us end slavery once and for all by bringing freedom to individual children, women and men, and changing the course of history. Will you give a gift today?
Saju Mathew, Director of Operations, South Asia
We're seeing huge changes in India, but the movement is growing in the U.S. too.
GIVE — We need you to send us to bring rescue to those who are waiting.
SIGN — Add your name to our letter asking the President to end slavery at home and abroad.
STAND — Rally others in your community and host an event together to Stand for Freedom.
Your gift has impact
Cost of an aftercare package for one family rescued from slavery
Cost of "Freedom Training" that teaches skills to rebuild a life in freedom
Cost of five days of Investigation
Average cost of one rescue operation
- In 2010, IJM helps rescue families – literally on the brink of starving to death – from a life of slavery.
- For two years, IJM advocates with the government to make sure the former slaves receive official release certificates.
- In late 2012, the government grants official release certificates – personal emancipation proclamations for each person.
- Today, the families are thriving: Children are in school and IJM social workers have helped the parents find good jobs.
Support IJM Now
Your gift enables IJM to bring rescue and restoration to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.