I traded turkey for biryani this Thanksgiving. On that day, my office helped government officials release 46 labourers from bondage. I was part of the IJM team that conducted the operation, so I spent the day traveling to a village, working at the local government office there, and traveling back.
Our team arrived at a rice mill hoping to rescue about 20 who had been trapped there for several years. When the team arrived, those labourers were thrilled to see them – and so were another 20-plus from the neighboring rice mill, who immediately climbed over a short wall between the mills and started begging to be rescued. All 46 people from the two mills were released. Many were children, some of whom worked in the mill and others who stayed in the small huts spread around the facility but did not work.
At the beginning of Thanksgiving Day, they were getting ready for 16 hours of harvesting rice. By the end of the day they had rehabilitation funds, a certificate providing that they may live and work where they like, and police protection from intimidation by their former owners.
I’ll remember this Thanksgiving for a while. But some things didn’t change – when I got home, there was some left-over turkey sitting on a plate for me.
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