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International Justice Mission members make their mark

Photo by Grace McDonald The International Justice Mission members covered the sidewalks to raise awareness.

Red sand symbolically stained the sidewalks of UNK Sept. 30, thanks to the International Justice Mission members. By participating in the Red Sand project, IJM hoped to spread awareness about the severity of sex trafficking.  

The event was organized by Mandy Berry, a family science junior and the IJM chapter president at UNK.

“[The Red Sand Project] basically represents those women and children and victims who have fallen through the cracks of the social justice system and victimized by human trafficking,” Berry said. “The red sand stands out so vividly that it’s hard to miss in the cracks of the sidewalk, so it really helps create that conversation, especially when we’re doing the project when people walk by—like a participatory artwork event.”

IJM is a Christian organization that supports “anti-human trafficking and modern-day slavery organization.” Chapters have spanned across the United States, since its establishment in 1994. 

As a tribute to victims, UNK students poured glittering, red sand along 25th Street, the Bell Tower, the Bruner Hall of Science and Cope Fountain. The students also wrote statistics with sidewalk chalk.

The idea was inspired by Molly Gochman who started the trend in 2014 when she filled the sidewalks cracks surrounding the Art Basel Miami Beach pavilion with red sand.

Now UNK students are following in her footsteps. 

“A lot of people are kind of like amazed at like the fact they didn’t know how much of an issue it is and how it like can actually affect their daily lives,” said Anna Law, a chemistry freshman and IJM member. “They thought it was like more of like other countries and stuff but some of the statistics about the US really were eye opening to some.”

According to the Red Sand Project website, 40.3 million people are in slavery today, and 4 billion people live outside the protection of the law. 

The eye-catching color and shocking statistics caused passersby to stop and look. 

“I honestly wasn’t sure exactly what I would get out of doing that, but I think it definitely helps to raise awareness and point people in the right direction,” said Bekah Sweeney, a speech pathology sophomore and IJM member. “It can really create a massive ripple effect.”

The IJM chapter at UNK meets every other Wednesday. The next event will be a Freedom Fast Oct. 23-24, which involves fasting and praying for the victims of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. 

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