8:17 a.m., Nov. 19, 2010----Hundreds of University of Delaware students united to raise awareness of the issue of modern day slavery -- more than 27 million people are enslaved in the world today -- during Justice Week, held Nov. 8-12 and organized by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in partnership with various registered student organizations, Greek Life and faculty.
The project also raised more than $4,500 for the cause, according to Molly Baker, co-president of InterVarsity.
“It is very easy as college students, to get in a bubble and become detached from the injustices that exist,” Baker said. “Many students feel helpless and think, 'What could I do to stop such a big problem?' Therefore, we organized a week in which we held different events each day that worked to educate people on modern day slavery and provided students practical ways to respond to this injustice.”
She noted that InterVarsity was motivated by faith, saying, “We believe that Jesus came for the purpose of bringing justice and restoration and, therefore, we are called to do the same. In Proverbs 3:27 it says, 'Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.' By being educated college students, living in America, we are automatically in a position 'to act,' and no matter how big or small our contribution is, we can make a difference.”
Justice Week opened Nov. 8 with the film At the End of Slavery, produced by International Justice Mission. Ten RSOs, including Uganda Untold, Engineers without Borders, Student Council for Exceptional Children, and the Asian Student Association, were partners in the presentation of the film, which exposes the raw reality of slavery. Students discussed how to respond.
On Nov. 9, there was a presentation by former slave Francis Bok, who came to share his personal story of 10 years as a slave in Sudan and his journey to freedom.
World Vision ACT:S came to campus on Nov. 10 and assisted with a Call-In Day in which more than 300 students called their senators, asking them to support the Child Protection Compact Act. The legislation is designed to help countries with high rates of human trafficking build public justice systems that effectively investigate crimes against children and prosecute perpetrators in numbers sufficient to deter and eventually eliminate the crime. The legislation also authorizes increased assistance for care of survivors of trafficking. Greek Life supported the event and many chapters came to call their senators.
During the calls, students wore Human Wrong Initiative shirts and provided human illustration of slavery, standing side-by-side and chained together on the patio of the Trabant University Center.
On Nov.11, the Justice Week team partnered with Global Fast and experienced the joy of sacrificial giving as students participated in a fast. Students purposefully gave the money they would have spent on their meals that day to helping combat human trafficking by supporting World Vision's Child Safety Net Project in Bangladesh.
Student Bryant Garcia, who participated in the fast, said, “It is important to fast as a college student because it gives you the opportunity to share in the struggle of many people. In this country, we eat whenever we want, however much we want, and we waste a lot of food; globally, very few have that privilege.”
After the day of fasting, Justice Week partners came together for the final event of the week, Break the Chains, a night of hope filled with live music, dance, and stories. Vocal Point and Vision sang, using their voices to take a stand, and the Delaware African Student Association dance troupe performed a dance that reflected a message of freedom.
Baker discussed her faith and shared the story of “Kuntheia,” a young girl from Cambodia who was a victim of sexual trafficking, forced to work in a brothel for over two years because of a $6 debt, an amount she could not pay off.
“Six dollars caused this girl to be used, defiled, and objectified,” Baker said. “Yet for me, $6 is two chai lattes at Starbucks. For me, $6 is half the price of a meal at Pencader. For Kuntheia, $6 was the difference between slavery and freedom.”
“It is for Kuntheia, and the millions of others like her that we held this Justice Week,” Baker said. “We want to be students defined by our love and generosity. It was incredible to see what was accomplished when we, as students, came together, raised our voices, and made simple sacrifices. Together, I believe we can see an end to modern day slavery in our lifetime.”