Although the people who live in Oceanside may not see it in their own back yards, modern day slavery still exists in the world and one young citizen in Bowser is doing her part to set them free.
Robyn Hearn organized a fundraising event last week with donations going to Loose Change to Loosen Chains (LC2LC).
The 14 year old’s effort resulted in over $1,400 being raised for the student-led campaign to combat modern-day slavery and injustices that occur around the world.
Money donated is used to rescue victims of slavery and other forms of oppression.
Hearn’s passion for the cause was sparked by a young man from Atlanta named Zach Hunter.
Six years ago when Hunter was 12 he launched LC2LC and since then he has been taking a stand against human trafficking and other forms of violent oppression.
When Hearn read one of Hunter’s books she was shocked to learn how children are bought and sold and used as livestock and it motivated her to do something about it.
“I got real excited about what he was doing,” she told a group who gathered at Morningstar Farm in Parksville to support the cause.
Two years ago she did a small fundraiser on her own and then through the youth group she belongs to at the Parksville Fellowship Baptist Church she raised over $300.
That amount was added to the total raised at the June 13 fundraiser for a total of $1,400, an amount Hearn was thrilled with.
“I was blown away by the total. We definitely blew past the goal of $1,000,” she exclaimed.
Hearn said she can’t help but feel strongly about the cause.
“I think the idea of someone having no self worth and being owned, in the same way you would own a car is sickening and you can’t just stand by and watch it.”
The International Justice Mission (IJM) is a human rights organization that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.
A representative from the Canadian branch of IJM, Mark Wollenberg was on hand to address the local gathering of about 100 people.
He gave personal anecdotes of some of the people he has met after they were rescued by IJM and admitted while those victims had good outcomes, that is not the case for so many people, particularly those in Third World countries who have no basic human rights.
“IJM works to rescue people who are in the violent control of someone else and create a new life for them. We work in 11countries and 15 cities and advocate for people who have no voice,” he pointed out.
He added that IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to ensure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to ensure that public justice systems — police, courts and laws — effectively protect the poor.
“Transforming justice systems is also important … because four billion people in this world have no justice and the perpetrators need to be held accountable,” he said.
Hearn said she will continue to work for the cause and hopes to hold more fundraisers in the future.