WASHINGTON — Rebekah Pinkham loves to travel, and has traveled throughout the world since leaving her home in northern Daviess County. She has been to 20 countries in her travels.
In June, she will combine her love of travel with a mission of helping others when she begins a year-long internship with International Justice Mission. The group works for human rights in areas where basic human rights are not guaranteed.
“They take on a wide variety of human rights issues but the two major ones are labor slavery and sex trafficking,” Pinkham said.
IJM works in the world of human rights that few get to see. Countries where millions of people are held in economic bondage, sex slavery and child labor.
It is a world, although reported, is something that does not register for most of us unless one has seen it.
Pinkham, while working in South Korea as an English teacher, has. From forced labor of Russian women to outright sex slavery of Filipino women, helping those women is the inspiration for her IJM internship.
“You do see a lot of open prostitution. Just seeing small glimpses of it in Korea and going to places like Thailand,” Pinkham said about her experiences. “You see like 12-year-old girls on the arms of 50-year-old men, it just disgusted me and it made me think - What can I do about it?”
She got to know about IJM’s mission through church events in Korea. After she returned to the U.S., she got to know a person in Las Vegas who did work for IJM and she applied for an internship.
The mission, started in 1997, goes into the seediest of brothels and factories and rescue those held under captive. The mission then helps the exploited.
“There may be some physical wounds that needs to be healed,” Pinkham said. “There’s a lot of mental and emotional wounds and try to help them.”