UCSB Christian organization Real Life and United States-based human rights non-profit International Justice Mission are jointly hosting International Justice Week this week in an effort to shed light on existing forms of slavery around the world.
The series of events will include a basketball tournament, a film screening and a 5k run. The collective efforts of the organizations are meant to expose issues of sexual exploitation, forced labor and instances of violence worldwide.
Samrawit Alemseged, a fourth-year art history and religious studies major who leads Bible studies for Real Life, said Real Life members will be setting up campus-wide tabling throughout the week.
According to Alemseged, the week will feature a variety of thought-provoking discussions focused on the types of slavery still in existence and their far-reaching effects. One of the events includes a thirty-minute film screening called “At the End of Slavery,” which will take place Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Isla Vista Theater.
On Saturday, International Justice Week will conclude with The Run for Justice 5k event. Participants will meet on the Faculty Club Lawn and run along the campus lagoon and bluffs. Registration costs $20, proceeds of which will go straight to IJM.
According to Alemseged, Real Life sponsors an event each year, but this is the first year they decided to work towards helping an organization that focuses on ending slavery.
“We have outreach every year, but this year we wanted to partner with IJM because we like what they do,” Alemseged said.
Alemseged said Real Life typically does not put on large-scale events such as International Justice Week, but organizers found the event essential due to the lack of widespread information on slavery in the community.
“We’re so desensitized here in America because we don’t see it happening,” Alemseged said. “It’s hard for people to relate to it because we are thousands of miles away.”
Paul Miyake, a third-year chemical engineering major and Real Life member who helped organize the event. He said his enthusiasm for anti-slavery activism has increased while working with Real Life.
“Initially, my heart wasn’t really in it because it wasn’t something I knew very much about it. I thought it was a really good cause, but it didn’t mean too much to me at the time,” Miyake said. “Not until I started planning these events and learning more about the human trafficking and sex slavery that goes on internationally did I become more passionate about it.”
Miyake said individuals have the power to help end slavery around the world and the week-long series seeks to emphasize this point to students on campus.
“We actually do have potential to help stop this or at least slow it down for now,” Miyake said. “I guess that was when my heart turned around tremendously,” Miyake said. “Although here in Santa Barbara we may not see it, we can definitely make a difference.”