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Elephants, Tigers and Naan, oh my! I'm going to Chennai

Joe Spano

International Justice Mission, Chennai, India

That's right friends, in less than two weeks I'll be boarding a plane for Chennai, India (cue the jaw-dropping for those who remember when I'd never leave the city, let alone the state, and certainly not the country!).  I will be serving as an intern for International Justice Mission (IJM), an organization I am very passionate about.  They operate to combat some of the world's biggest injustices, especially sex trafficking and bonded labor.*   I encourage you to learn more about them, and you can watch the video below as a first step.


I'll spend a week in DC for training first, where me the Pres will probs hang out.  From there I'll be off to India for two months.  I'll be based in the city of Chennai, which is a South Eastern coastal city, and capital of the state of Tamil Nadu.  The Chennai IJM office focuses on bonded labor.  I will be serving in a legal capacity (though details are very much TBA) through Pepperdine Law School.  One particularly cool aspect of my assignment to Chennai (I admit, I wanted Mumbai) is that a fellow Pepperdine Law student spent the summer in Chennai two years ago.  That Malibu and Chennai would have any connection is exciting; that it would be in the battle over bonded labor is thrilling.**


*To give a very simple sketch of bonded labor, much simpler than it deserves, imagine the following scenario:  Drought has hit hard this year, and Farmer Raj's crops simply did not grow.  He now needs money to provide for his family, money that would have come from the crops.  As such, he goes to Mr. LoanShark, who assures Raj that he will provide Raj with a loan.  As a condition, Raj and his family will work for LoanShark, earning a salary that will allow Raj to repay the loan.  What LoanShark does not tell Raj is that the 'salary' he will provide Raj is less than the 'interest' he will charge on the loan, thus ensuring Raj and his family will never be able to purchase their freedom.  This can and does continue generationally.  In 2013.

**Granted there may be other connections I don't know about, haha.