Right now, we’re all looking forward to the moment we can reunite with families and loved ones, finally exchanging big hugs and smiles with mask-less faces. But for some families, it’s not COVID-19 that’s keeping them apart.
The truth and reality of trafficking is that it separates millions of families who are left to wonder if they’ll ever see each other again.
This is Raju’s story.
At 12 years old, Raju was every parents’ dream for a child. He studied away at boarding school where he enjoyed his classes, but his family was always at the forefront of his mind. He couldn’t wait for each opportunity to return home and help them around the house.
Having a father who is blind and two stepbrothers, Raju was deeply conscious of how hard his mother worked to provide for their family. It ached him to see his mother come home with a meager $2.70 after working hard planting and harvesting vegetables all day.
That’s why when a local, wealthy farm owner came and spoke to his parents about Raju coming to work for him over his one-week school break in exchange for an unheard of sum of money, his family all rejoiced.
“In my mind, it was a matter of a week before I went back to school, so I willingly agreed to go to the farm with the owner.”
But little did this family know, they’d never see anywhere close to the amount promised. Instead, that one week turned into 8 years that their son was taken from them.
What form of trafficking is this?
Answer: Forced Labor Slavery. Typically, it starts with traffickers just like the wealthy farm owner in this story. They prey on the most vulnerable with a lie to get them out of poverty. But once they trap them in the lie, they set a debt so steep it would be impossible to pay off in anyone’s lifetime.
The perils of Forced Labor Slavery stole Raju away from his family. But you can put an end to it. Will you give a life-changing gift today that can reunite more children like Raju with their families?
Trapped on the farm
The hope of seeing their son faded each day they woke up to find his bed, yet again, empty. “We went to the farm as often as possible and asked to see Raju, but we were not allowed to meet him,” his mother recounts with tears in her eyes.
Raju spent the remainder of his precious childhood grazing the farm owner’s animals in the blazing-hot sun. He tried to escape many times and return to his family, only to be dragged back to the farm. Every failed escape made the work and the beatings much worse for him. And his hope for ever seeing his family again faded.
This is where people like you entered Raju’s story. When you give to IJM, you spread the good news of freedom all over the world—including families like Raju’s in Bangalore.
Will you give a gift to rescue these children from slavery?
Gifts like yours meant freedom reached Raju through the phone call of an IJM staff member who was alerted about Raju through a few of his concerned friends.
“For the first time I dared to hope that my life at the farm was coming to an end and something new was possible,” Raju remembers with his eyes lighting up.
Because people like you fuel the fight for every child, woman and man trapped in slavery, together, we could find a way to reach Raju—sending him the hope of freedom day after day until it finally came.
And because supporters like you never gave up either, Raju finally did find his freedom on the day government officials, police and IJM’s team of lawyers and social workers arrived at the farm to finally bring Raju home to his family.
Today, Raju is working towards restoration through our IJM aftercare and learning how to be a powerful advocate for his family so that they can thrive in freedom.
“I am now responsible for the whole family,” he says proudly. “I was 12 years old when the owner promised to pay 12,000 rupees a year for the work he wanted me to do—but I can now make 12,000 rupees in a single month just by working honestly in freedom. My life has really changed.”
Thank you for fighting for the freedom of every child, woman and man still trapped in all forms of slavery—including forced labor slavery.