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Celebration Creates Hope and Happiness in the Midst of Darkness

By Kalyn Kraul, IJM Aftercare Intern

Kalyn and the aftercare team.

I love any excuse to celebrate. I’m the first to jump at the chance to have a dinner party for no particular reason, to wear my favourite lipstick on an ordinary Tuesday, and to mark those tiny things that others would deem insignificant. But there are days and seasons in which celebrating seems more of a fight than an opportunity.

I am currently living and working in India as an IJM intern in the aftercare department. The aftercare team is made up of social workers and counsellors who work tirelessly to provide support for girls who have been rescued from human trafficking. They want to see each of the girls restored and to experience healing from the trauma they have experienced. As a team, we are confronted daily with the contrast of the darkness they are rescued from, and what they are rescued to.

But make no mistake, there is so much to celebrate:

  • A tailoring program was recently developed to teach clients to produce clothing and specialty items that will provide future economic opportunities.
  • In a prestigious engineering program, a client recently graduated with honours.
  • Another client bravely testified against her trafficker in court, a testament to her progress in aftercare and the diligence of the legal team.
  • Several clients are currently enrolled in a nursing program.
  • Trauma-focused counselling is a large part of our work, a fundamental stage of which is celebrating our clients’ graduations.
  • One of our clients was gifted a new bicycle, much to her delight, which was donated by a member of a local church.

With IJM's help, Salila was rescued from sex trafficking in Mumbai, and placed in a safe aftercare home. She completed her education and was trained in many career skills. Salila now works for a jewelry manufacturer fixing the intricate jewel work on bangles. She and another young woman share an apartment, and Salila remains in close contact with IJM staff. She has a savings account in her own name and has built a stable life.

One of my favourite things about working at IJM is that we take the time each month to celebrate significant milestones and cheer each other on. Investigations, legal and aftercare teams gather to share in each others successes with much excitement and joy (and sometimes with cake!). This has become part of our regular routine at the office, but I am learning that choosing to celebrate in the midst of darkness is one of the most vital aspects in the continued fight for justice.

It takes discipline and practice to recognize those things worth celebrating. It is essential to build this practice into our everyday lives because it is exactly what we need to keep going. It creates hope and happiness. Celebrating the good is a choice, and it is oftentimes the renewal we need to continue in the face of such realities. It teaches me to persevere.

Today, I acknowledge that there are still many girls who are being exploited and who desperately need to be rescued. In the midst of this, restoration is happening all around us, and that my friends, is definitely worth celebrating.

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