IJM teams around the world are celebrating the end of a very big year. To recap, we asked some of our interns and fellows to share ten moments they’ll never forget:
1. Sharing Harriet’s incredible story.
EMILY, UGANDA: When I met Harriet and her children, they were entering a new season of hope. IJM had built her family a new home, her tormentors had been convicted, and she had been granted the right to remain on her land.
The photo of me with Harriet and her family was taken a few months after the judgment was given, at which time I was given the opportunity to sit down with Harriet and listen to her story.
The reason this day was so significant for me was not only because I was able to see firsthand the incredible results of IJM’s work, but particularly because of the things that Harriet said that will forever be in the forefront of my mind when I think about how impactful the work of IJM is—not just in transforming systems, but in eternally impacting individual lives.
At the end of her story she was overflowing with gratitude for IJM and she said, “For the first time in my life I have joy. I feel that God is finally on my side. I feel that God is fighting for me through IJM.”
2. Starring in a Ugandan music video.
EMILY, UGANDA: One late night I was at a deserted hotel restaurant with a few fellow interns and other friends. We were approached by a man who asked if we wanted to be extras in a music video. I readily agreed, assuming that no one would ever see this video and that it would make for a good story regardless of what happened.
What I thought would be a 10-minute shoot turned into at least a half hour of my friends and I dancing with a Ugandan pop singer and her back-up singer/dancers over and over to her latest single.
We found out after the fact that she was one of Uganda’s most popular pop stars, and then were shocked (and pretty thrilled) when we found the completed music video uploaded on YouTube a few weeks later with over 2,000 hits after only a few days. Best part—we were featured in the entire thing. Who knew my back-up dancing career would take off in Uganda?
3. Hearing about our first rescue operation.
BONNIE, INDIA: I believed in the mission of IJM with all my heart long before I joined IJM Delhi as a Communications Fellow. I spoke passionately of it to my church, my friends, my family. After a little more than a month working in the office, sorting files, trying to figure out my new job, get housing issues settled, I didn’t believe in it any less.
But the wonder of working for IJM—pinch me, is it true?—had turned into the routine of an office job. Then a meeting was called. And I sat holding my breath as my boss described the risks of the upcoming operation to those who were going, safety protocols, and who was in charge if she should be… incapacitated.
I remembered in that moment why I wanted to do whatever I could to support these brave friends. For the next three days those of us in the office gathered periodically to pray as our team travelled to a distant state and brought 117 people out of captivity.
When the team returned I heard the stories of the people rescued, and tears filled my eyes. That’s why typing a report matters. That’s why I’m here.
4. Riding on a toy train.
BONNIE, INDIA: The narrow-gauge train wound through the mountains to Shimla, rimming deep valleys filled with sunlight and cloud. Cool air through the open windows ruffled out hair and rhythms of laughter and meditative silence flowed to the beat of the train on the track.
The visioning retreat with my team was valuable, and we came back with a new vision statement and strategies for the year ahead.
But there was something in those hours on the train together as a team, immersed in beauty and motion, that was at once solemn and joyful, and knit us together in a way more valuable yet.
5. Attending a graduation ceremony in Bolivia.
MOISES & PAULA, BOLIVIA: We got to attend IJM Bolivia’s graduation ceremony for children finishing their therapy with our team. It was a joyous occasion, celebrating with the survivors who had completed their aftercare programs and reflecting on what God has accomplished in each of their lives. Parents were given the opportunity to tell us how our work at IJM matters and truly is a blessing in their lives.
That same day a 25-year conviction was handed down in the case of Marcela,* who was present, celebrating her restoration. The news gave hope and faith to the other parents at the event to persevere with the long judicial process.
At the end of the event, Marcela’s mother asked for a picture with all of us and our names so that she could continue praying for us and our work. This is a picture of our team with Marcela and her mother yelling “¡Justicia!”
6. Scaling a glacier named for beef jerky.
HSU-ANN, BOLIVIA: How many interns can say they scaled a glacier during their time with IJM?
At the Bolivia field office, a two-hour drive followed by a two-hour hike will get you to over 5250m above sea level atop a mountain called Charquini— named after beef jerky for its appearance.
The stunning views give glory to our God as much His justice work does. Here’s just one of many awe-inducing pictures.
7. Celebrating justice with ice cream sundaes.
KRYSTLE, PHILIPPINES: November was a month of successes for IJM Cebu: our team had two successful rescue operations (9 women and girls rescued!) and eight convictions in cases of trafficking.
One of these convictions involved the owner of the first establishment IJM Cebu helped shut down back in 2009. To celebrate, our Field Office Director (pictured here) set up a sundae bar in our conference room and served us ice cream.
8. Eating a partially developed duck egg.
KRYSTLE, PHILIPPINES: A Filipino delicacy is ‘balut’—fertilized (partially developed) duck egg. One of our coworkers surprised us (all of the news staff and interns) by bringing in a batch of balut.
With much fanfare from the team, we ate/choked down the eggs (feathers, beaks and all). It was terrible but hilarious, and we became real Filipinos that day.
9. Connecting with college students in Uganda.
HANNAH, UGANDA: I became involved with IJM my freshmen year at Auburn University, so I was thrilled to work with students from the IJM campus chapter at Uganda Christian University during my internship. The chapter members regularly assist IJM Kampala by preaching sermons on biblical justice and offering legal aid in churches.
This picture was taken earlier this year when they hosted a “Justice Week” on their campus, which offered a variety of events to support IJM Kampala’s work.
Working with these students caused me to reminisce about my days with the Auburn IJM chapter and fueled my desire to see our generation lead the fight for justice around the world.
10. Taking a trip of a lifetime.
HANNAH, UGANDA: A few days off work for Ugandan national holidays turned into the experience of a lifetime.
My roommates and I spontaneously took a trip to South Africa, meeting a former IJM HQ intern to explore Cape Town’s exquisite topography. This adventure took place early in our internships, so my roommates and I bonded and made memories that we frequently referenced throughout the rest of our time together in the field.
This picture captures everything I love about our Cape Town trip: vast, beautiful scenery, epic memories, and the two girls with whom I’d share my life in Uganda.
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International Justice Mission is the world’s largest international anti-slavery organization, working to end modern-day slavery, human trafficking and other forms of violence against the poor by rescuing and restoring victims, restraining perpetrators, and transforming broken public justice systems. Learn more at www.ijm.org.