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Facing Violence Against the Poor

Without the protection of public justice systems, the poor are extremely vulnerable to everyday violence.

Glenn Waterman is IJM Canada's Vice-President of Development and Marketing.

After I passed the one year mark with IJM Canada, I decided to take stock and to share my discoveries with you. An insider’s journey, if you will.

First you should know that I’m no stranger to international charities. I spent 5 years at World Vision Canada and almost 10 years at The Leprosy Mission Canada--I’ve seen poverty, illness, need and desperation in a number of countries around the world. I came to IJM Canada thinking it would be more of the same.

Good work. Life changing work. But similar.

Taking the blindfold off

Then I learned about violence and the blindfold that I had been wearing came off. In particular, the everyday violence experienced by a desperately poor person.

This happened first through the stories and videos I was shown as a new staff member and I remember thinking, "Why had I never seen this before, in my previous travels overseas??” It put things into a perspective that was very uncomfortable for me. I suddenly had a glimmer of understanding of the scope of problems facing the people I had been trying to help. And I wondered how much of that ‘help’ had really made a difference.

The reality of everyday violence

Food, medical aid, education and so many other things are vital for a family to thrive. But, the family that we had helped with food may have had it stolen. The person we gave medicine to may have been robbed. The child we provided education for may not have been able to go to school because she was too afraid to walk there. I never asked if the families had lost children to slavery or traffickers.

That troubles me and if you are reading this, it should trouble you. Because this is their reality and we need to understand that. We need to understand it because if the violence does not stop it will undercut everything else we try to do.

I have progressed in this journey and this was only my first stage. Hopefully you will follow along as I take you to the next level. The one I learned when I actually visited the field and met the people you and I are trying to help. Next time I will introduce you.

Read the other posts in this blog series:

Blog post #2 - This Is Personal
Blog post #3 - Eyes Wide Open
Blog post #4 – Fighting the Ordinary


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