"5 Weeks for Freedom" is a major campaign to support International Justice Mission's work and give a voice to victims of modern-day slavery and other forms of injustice. A team of ordinary people is giving up 5 weeks to cycle the 1800 miles of the Underground Railroad - a route that reminds us that change happens when ordinary people do what they can to stop injustice, that the evil of slavery has been defeated once, and that, together, we can do it again.
Over the 5 weeks of the campaign - June 28th to July 31, every major city along the tour route will host events featuring music, celebrities, the tour riders and more, to raise awareness of modern-day slavery and other forms of violent oppression - and empower people to take action to stop injustice.
The cycling tour is led by Venture Expeditions, a non-profit organization committed to mobilizing support for humanitarian work through major cycling and climbing tours. MEET THE RIDERS!
We at start> would like to give you a moment to listen to the heartbeat of this campaign:
KUMAR'S STORY - INDIA
Orphaned at age five, Kumar became a slave in a brick kiln at age seven. He was forced to carry heavy loads of bricks on his head and work through illness and injury. While his peers were in school, he struggled daily with the physical stress of hard labor.
After several years at the kiln, Kumar was released from slavery through IJM intervention in collaboration with local authorities. Kumar is now free to pursue his dream for the future: "I want to become a police officer so I can help and protect the good people of our village," he recently told staff. He has excelled in school and has recently begun an internship with one of IJM's India field offices.
MANNA'S STORY - INDIA
When 14-year-old Manna ran away from her abusive home, she met a woman who offered her a job selling fabric. She accepted the position, and the woman provided her a place to sleep for the night. When Manna awoke in the morning, the woman was gone, and Manna discovered that she was in a brothel. For the next two years, she was held in the brothel and raped by customers for the profit of the brothel owners.
She was freed when IJM investigators discovered her captivity and alerted local authorities, working with them to release her and three other young girls from the brothel. The brothel owners each received five-year sentences for their crimes, and Manna was brought to an aftercare home to heal in security.
STEPHEN'S STORY - KENYA
Stephen was falsely accused of shooting a police officer and robbing the bank where he worked. The officers who arrested him subjected him to savage beatings and psychological torture over five days, moving him to a different station every night so that his wife would be unable to find him. When it was determined that he was innocent, the officers conspired with a corrupt judge to hold him in prison for three and a half more years.
When IJM Kenya learned of his situation, the team took on his case, proving that there was no evidence linking him to the crime. As a result of IJM's advocacy, Stephen was released from jail and reunited with his family. Today, he works for IJM Kenya, sharing the message of justice throughout the country.
As this team cycles all 1800 miles of the Underground Railroad, please pray that they will raise awareness of slavery and other violent injustice - and rally supporters to raise their voices on behalf of victims around the world!