Friday, 13 October 2017 10:18

Martial arts school receives award for fundraising to stop human slavery

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Swift Current Christian Tae Kwon Do owner and head instructor Gary Voysey (at left) looks at the awards plaque presented by David Pollendine, IJM Canada's director of development and mobilization for Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Oct. 3. Swift Current Christian Tae Kwon Do owner and head instructor Gary Voysey (at left) looks at the awards plaque presented by David Pollendine, IJM Canada's director of development and mobilization for Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Oct. 3.

The fundraising by a martial arts school in Swift Current to support international efforts to end human trafficking has been recognized with an award.


Swift Current Christian Tae Kwon Do received an award from International Justice Mission (IJM) Canada for raising the largest amount in North America during the 2017 Breaking Boards, Breaking Chains campaign, which took place in April.
David Pollendine, IJM Canada's director of development and mobilization for Manitoba and Saskatchewan, visited Swift Current on Oct. 3 to present the award to Swift Current Christian Tae Kwon Do owner and head instructor Gary Voysey.
“We don’t do it for the awards, but it’s really nice when you know you’re in a community that can compete financially against place like Toronto or Richmond or wherever out there,” Voysey said. “Groups are doing this and it’s just once again testimony to the people of Swift Current and the area. It’s just amazing.”
Martial arts schools across Canada and the United States participate in this annual event. The students of Swift Current Christian Tae Kwon Do gathered pledges and raised $12,500 for IJM in 2017.
The Swift Current club has been a top fundraising contender in this event for a number of years. It won first place and raised just over $4,500 when it participated for the first time in 2014. The club won second place in 2015 and last year it was in first place.
“Next year we’re targeting $15,000, and if we get more, that will be awesome,” he said. “We just keep growing and growing, which is incredible. Once again, all credit to my students and the community here in Swift Current.”
Since 2014 the club has raised over $30,000 for IJM. He felt the club's fundraising efforts reflect the values of martial arts.
“Martial arts in itself is about helping other people,” he said. “We’re really trying to showcase that’s what we believe and we’re putting our hands where our mouth is, so to speak.”
There is a lot of enthusiasm in the club for this annual event from students of all ages and their families.
“They really get involved and buy into the idea of let’s make a difference, especially when it comes to human trafficking,” he said. “It’s actually something tangible that they can see. ... Here is an opportunity that they go online on Facebook and IJM is always saying these people are free, and then you’ll see them two years later, they’re still free, they’re working and they’re doing this. I think that’s one of the reasons why our students really get involved and they know that human trafficking is bad, but they’re also now seeing it taking place that people are getting freed, which is phenomenal.”
Pollendine said the fundraising efforts by martial arts schools and other community groups are really making a difference to the work of IJM in countries across the world.
“Obviously the dollar here goes a long way in a lot of the countries where we’re working,” he noted. “So it can really have a massive impact on all the stages that we’re involved in what we do, so rescuing people from slavery. The restoration as well, getting them back to full health. It’s a whole process, it can take years, and involves social workers, after care professionals. All these things cost money, and also bringing things to prosecution, bringing perpetrators to prosecution, and then also trying to work with the whole system to transform the justice system.”
Third party events such as the Breaking Boards, Breaking Chains fundraiser accounts for approximately five per cent of IJM's overall income. According to IJM statistics for 2015, the  majority of funding (50 per cent) was received from individual donors, while 16 per cent of funds were received from churches and charities, 28 per cent from foundations and six per cent from corporations. There are currently about 40.3 million slaves in the world, and IJM is working in countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
“There’s more people in slavery today than ever in the past, than there ever was during the trans-Atlantic slave trade,” he said. “So it’s a massive problem, it’s a massive issue. India is one of the countries where it’s most prevalent and actually we’ve made some big breakthroughs in India, which is fantastic.”
He noted that the government of India has made a commitment to eradicate slavery in that country by 2030.
“It’s a great example for other countries to follow, but also it’s great for IJM, because we can now work with the government,” he said. “Everything we do is supported with the government and that’s a model then to take into other countries. So it is a massive issue, but there are good signs that things can be changed.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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