CARMEN Allen remembers well the day she became aware of International Justice Mission (IJM), a charitable organisation devoted to bringing rescue and freedom to victims of slavery, sex trafficking and other forms of violence.
She was listening to a radio program on local station Rhema FM in which IJM founder Gary Haugen was discussing his book - Terrify No More: Young Girls Held Captive and the Daring Undercover Operation to Win Their Freedom - about sex trafficking in Cambodia.
‘‘It was midday, I was at the lights and it struck me I’m naive about this world and that there’s this need to do something about this terrible problem,’’ Carmen recalled.
So she Googled IJM, spent a lot of time on their website familiarising herself with what they do – ‘‘Rescue thousands, Protect millions, Prove that justice for the poor is possible’’ – and pondered where she fit in.
‘‘I didn’t speak another language, I wasn’t a lawyer, or a detective or social worker – what could I do?’’ she said.
‘‘I wasn’t ignorant any more though, so I ended up ordering the book, signed up for the newsletter, which lets you know what’s going on in each country, and I started giving a little bit financially.’’
Eventually Carmen decided that instead of marking time, she could adapt her skills.
Being a graphic designer who had organised a number of events previously, she decided to build on her interest in scrapbooking.
So was born her group ‘‘Let’s Scrap Against Slavery”, a fund-raising event based in the Nelson Bay area that raises money for International Justice Mission.
Early next month they will hold a weekend scrapbook and cardmaking retreat.
‘‘I’ve done two scrap weekends before,’’ she said.
‘‘We have a talk about IJM, then the rest of the time people bring their own stuff and work on what they do.
‘‘And we have four workshops over the weekend to teach people new scrap techniques if they’re interested.
‘‘There’s also raffles, bargain bags in between workshops and morning teas, that sort of thing.
‘‘It’s actually a really relaxing weekend if people are busy. It’s an opportunity to be waited on. Someone else will cook your lunch, you’ll get to chill.’’
Out of that inspiration has grown another group called ‘‘Girls 4 Girls’’.
It targets girls aged 5 and up and is all about Aussie girls helping other girls overseas who are less fortunate than us.
‘‘We have a tag line ‘Freeing the forgotten’.
‘‘We have run three events so far – two Cards and Cupcakes events and a High Tea Party.
‘‘The High Tea Party last November was booked out six weeks in advance.
‘‘I was blown away by the response and want to expand it.
‘‘What’s come out of that is now I have got a team of young girls who are volunteers.
‘‘They are aged between 10 and 14, seven of them, and we meet every few weeks to teach what justice is all about and widen their world view.
‘‘IJM provides a curriculum that they’ve written for high school students.
‘‘I’ve modified the curriculum so that we don’t talk about trafficking for this age group.
“As they get older we will be able to introduce that topic.
‘‘But it does talk about slavery and other issues.
‘‘In this way I hope to bring on the next generation of justice advocates.’’
To date over the past two years Carmen’s events have raised in excess of $16,000.
IJM has recently launched a new office in Australia to raise critically needed funding and to encourage governments, corporations and individuals in Australia to engage in the important work of protecting the global poor from violence.