Visas Are Hard.

Like really hard. This is the third one I’ve applied for, and nothing about this process has been charming.

It’s definitely partly my fault. It’s definitely not all my fault. But that’s ok and also not important.

From what I hear, bureaucracy drives everyone crazy, not least those who actually work in it.

So, the answer to that extremely valid “when are you leaving” question has become: tbd.

My application recently got passed on to the next level of processing, and I haven’t heard anything from them at all since that happened. IJM says not to worry if I don’t hear anything for 6 weeks from last week, as this is definitely less than unheard-of. After that they’ll start asking questions, and at 8 weeks they’ll reassign me to a different location. And this isn’t as personal a problem as it sounds. Only 2 people on my 6 person team have actually gotten a visa.

Only 1/3 of these people can legally enter the subcontinent!
Only 1/3 of these people can legally enter the subcontinent!

So until I hear from someone about something, I’m just playing a waiting game. Honestly, it is nice to have more time with my family than I’d thought (I was supposed to leave October 1 and start work on the 9th). I also imagine that I would be freaking out right now if I were really leaving tomorrow, but this delay has just increased the anticipation.

I’m about ready to stowaway on a plane sans passport, so you can be sure I’ll be gleefully publishing any news I get as soon as I get some.

 

 

Oh and  also, just a note as to why I’m saying “South Asia” instead of using the name of the *cough* subcontinent as I do in actual conversation: Basically, IJM has asked us not to. They don’t mind people knowing where we are, but do not want records of our work in this area readily available to the general public. This is to protect our team, our clients, and the entire process of systemic transformation that we’re undertaking. So feel free to ask me about the specific place/city by text (YES you can text me just like normal), snapchat, whatsapp, skype or any number of the more or less defunct communication tools that we have available today! But plz don’t post it publicly on my Facebook or anything like that. Thanks!

No Capes!

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Washington DC kind of begs you to dream big. The streets are often quite literally lined with monuments to individuals, team, and entire armies of people who did something temple worthy.

“Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime,” – LongfellowIMG_0150

And, whether you like the events and/or players or not, world changing things still happen here every day. International Justice Mission is doing a lot of those things. That was my main takeaway from IJM’s Orientation week. They are actually superheroes, and they’re letting me be their sidekick.

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Slavery has become a trendy charity topic, and there’s nothing particularly wrong with that. But the reality of violence against the poor is such a massive and still largely unaddressed problem. According to IJM’s numbers, in South Asia, the part of the world where nearly half of the world’s 30 million slaves are held, slave holders are more likely to be struck by lightning than brought to justice. And “slavery” here doesn’t mean just a really bad job with a mean boss. This is slavery on the brutality level of the worst of 19th century American slavery. People are reduced to commodities every day, trapped in endless debt, sold between masters, and forced to bear atrocities I actually don’t want to write about.

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These delightful statistics were part of our first training session last Monday morning at 9am. Conversations like these will wake you up. Generally, that was the effect of the entire week. People that worked for IJM led sessions from 9-5ish every day that hit the room of 80+ assembled new employees, headquarters interns, and field office interns like overdoses of good coffee (honestly coffee all tastes the same to me but whatever). We learned so much about all of the different types of cases IJM handles: forced labor, sexual violence, human trafficking, illegal land seizure, and even some citizenship rights abuses.

IJM is fighting a modern day abolitionist movement on so many fronts. The goal is  sustainable, systemic change in some of the most unequal societies on the planet. This is superhero level work, though it looks far less glamorous than one might hope. It looks like long nights with reams of paperwork. It looks like 48 hour sit ins at police stations and government offices, begging people to take action. I’m ok with that.

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Anyways, I don’t have a ton of updating to do. I was just so very fired up about the week that I wanted to get this blog back up out of the dark recesses of the internet. (Oh also I did get to have some fun! I met a ton of lovely, passionate, inspired people, and we explored the whole DC thing.)IMG_0167

Also here’s this, just because: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4R2aW03pwL0