Bigger & Harman, APC - April 2019





DRIVER Attorneys Defending Your Right to the Road

APRIL 2019


Why We Stand With the International Justice Mission

Some of the biggest humanitarian issues on this Earth can often seem a world away. We hear about the horrors of human trafficking on the news or are asked to donate to an organization trying to bring clean water to a rural village, but most of us aren’t directly confronted with these issues here in the United States. It’s easy for these real crises that impact real human lives to be lost in abstraction. Sometimes you need to board a plane and see the problem for yourself to really understand the need for change. Friends and family of our firm have been vocal supporters of International Justice Mission (IJM). A non-governmental organization founded with the sole purpose of ending the modern slave trade, IJM works with local governments and police forces around the world to arrest slavers, free their captives, and craft policies that keep people out of slavery in the first place. Needless to say, their work saves lives. Still, we run into the problem of abstraction. For most Americans, the word “slavery” brings up images of a tragic chapter in our own nation’s history, and it’s just that — history. However, the unfortunate truth is that in countries in Africa and around the world, people are still being sold into slavery every day. I recently took a trip to Uganda and saw the organization’s efforts firsthand. This was my first time in sub-Saharan Africa, and honestly, it felt like I’d stepped onto another planet. The landscape was lush and beautiful, with rivers and lakes feeding red soil. But while nature in Uganda is rich, most of the people live very hard lives. Throughout the trip, tagging along with IJM workers, I saw many people eking out a subsistence-based existence. Some don’t even get that.

in African, land belongs to the men. So, when a farmer dies and his wife carries on tending the land, her brothers-in-law can swoop in during the harvest and take everything from her and her children. When these women are left with absolutely nothing, choices once unthinkable become the only route toward survival. I heard horror stories of mothers forced to sell themselves or one of their children into slavery so that the rest of the family wouldn’t starve. Listening to those who had faced the unspeakable trauma that followed, I felt frustrated and helpless. Working as a lawyer in a stable country, I’m used to being able to help people in ways that stick. But here, I was faced with the overwhelming sense that even if I was able to do something for these victims, it wouldn’t keep others just like them from slipping into the same fate. For any meaningful change to happen, the entire system must be reformed. That’s what IJM is working to do. While actively rescuing people in slavery is exciting, much of the organization’s work is focused on a wider scale effort to change government policies and social perceptions. It’s slow work, but slavery is a systemic problem requiring a holistic approach that roots out the problem once and for all. When leaving the capital city of Kampala, my mind kept returning to the stories I’d heard and thinking of ways we might prevent similar stories from being written again. As an individual, I may not be able to do much, but if I learned anything from IJM, it’s that collective action can be a force for change. That’s why our firm is passing on a portion of our earnings to help this vitally important charity. For every client referred to us, we will be donating $20 to support IJM’s mission in Uganda and beyond. Together, we can put an end to the global slave trade once and for all.

If you’d like to learn more about IJM and how you can help directly, visit

You see, land seizure is a major issue in Uganda and contributes directly to the slave trade. Traditionally

–Mark Bigger

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