Recent CNN video of a slave auction in Libya focused world attention on the issue of modern-day slavery that traps some 40 million people globally in forced labor or prostitution, according to International Justice Mission, an organization that fights human trafficking.
For the fourth year, modern-day slavery and the work of International Justice Mission is the focus of an unusual fundraiser undertaken by Mat Hench of Boiling Springs.
Each day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hench submerges himself in frigid water while seeking donations for the work of International Justice Mission.
Hench is a physical therapist assistant at Select Physical Therapy in Carlisle.
Q. What drew you to the cause of fighting modern-day slavery?
A. Everybody would agree that slavery is a bad thing, but many people see it as a historic happening rather than a current problem. I was looking for a nonprofit to support, and when I found out that slavery continues to be prevalent and there were organizations doing something about it, I knew that was something I wanted to be a part of.
Q. What are you doing with the Freezing for Freedom fundraiser?
A. I am completely submerging myself into cold water every day from Thanksgiving til Christmas to bring awareness to the cause and raise money for the International Justice Mission. This year, it will be 33 days in a row.
I have jumped in a variety of different natural bodies of water, including the Boiling Springs lake and Bubble, Yellow Beeches Creek, Lake Wildwood and Lititz Spring. I try to get in and out as fast as possible. The only stipulation is I have to get 100 percent wet.
Q. Tell us about International Justice Mission, the organization for which you are raising money.
A. The International Justice Mission is an organization that helps to rescue victims of violence. Once the victim is rescued, IJM works to restore them to life and represent the victim in the justice system. IJM also works to put the criminals in prison.
Q. What has been the craziest experience you’ve had while doing this?
A. We always do a midnight jump at the Boiling Springs Bubble on Christmas to celebrate. The first year we did this, the state police noticed that something was going on and they decided to pull over to investigate. We were still in the water at this point and when we saw the lights, we crawled out and stood there freezing for several minutes while being questioned. They wanted to make sure we were in our right state of mind. I can’t imagine why they would think otherwise.
Q. How can people become involved in the fundraiser?
A. I want to encourage people to donate to IJM.org. For those not in a position to help financially, it would help a lot to spread the word and to bring modern-day slavery into the light for the people that don’t understand the severity of it today. I would love for people to connect with me on social media by liking the “Freezing for Freedom” page on Facebook and helping to share it with their friends. Prayer is always appreciated.