It’s been a real privilege for me to get to know Johanna Talley of IJM. There’s something about joining in the same battle and fighting the same evil that brings people together. You can read Johanna’s official bio here, but I’ll tell you that her passion for ending human trafficking is absolutely contagious. Johanna is a modern-day freedom fighter. In our next two posts, you’ll read all about her personal journey as well as Google’s landmark grant to IJM.
Getting Into the Ring
By Priscilla Ko
The permeating influence of these past posts revolves around the very first meeting I held with one of M121’s co-founders, Tony Chen. In introducing M121, a quick blurb about Google’s $11 million grant was mentioned and the inspiration for exploring corporations with their involvement with human trafficking took off from there.
I was graciously introduced to Johanna Talley, who currently serves as the Midwest Director of Development for International Justice Mission (IJM). IJM was the first organization who instilled in me a passion for social justice, to persevere in hope for change to happen and to fight for the eradication of modern day slavery. It was a joy to have been given the responsibility and opportunity to hear Johanna’s heartbeat for this issue and to be given a little more insight on the significance of Google’s grant.
The interview was conducted in 2 different frames: the first in understanding Johanna’s personal testimony and passion, the second in digging further inside Google’s generosity to IJM. Our hope is that you may be inspired and encouraged in the evident change taking place today.
Q: How did you first hear about human trafficking?
Talley: I didn’t initially start with human trafficking, but more so with child sexual assault. As a victim of sexual abuse, I wanted to do something to help those who had been assaulted. 4 years ago on a trip to Nicaragua I volunteered in an orphanage where 100% of the children had been sexually attacked by fathers/uncles/etc. and saw the lack of justice in their situation. Even though they were taken out of their abusive homes, there was no punishment for their perpetrators who would literally be walking down the same streets.
Q: How did you get started with International Justice Mission?
Talley: After volunteering in Nicaragua, I served on the board of a local rape abuse center in Tennessee (currently the only one of its kind) and started to lead fundraising efforts. I attended a conference whose speaker introduced me to human trafficking and was inspired by her work. Eventually I was linked to IJM’s website, submitted an application and eventually came on the team.
Q: From when you first started working with IJM until now, what changes have you seen in regards to the issues surrounding human trafficking?
Talley: There’s definitely been a growing awareness with trafficking. We’ve seen God rise up different churches, organizations, and people who are hungry and wanting to see change. However, there’s still a long way to go: if you look at how much funding goes into food, water and basic necessities it’s in the billions. Compare that to poverty and specifically IJM/human trafficking: $30 million.
Q: What changes do you hope to see?
Talley: Corporate involvement. When you get big names like Google, Microsoft, Target, etc. involved, there’s global outreach in the countries where we are already established. In order to see human trafficking end in our lifetime, there must be larger cohesiveness in implementing structural systems in these countries.
Stay tuned for more of this interview in our next post. If you’re not familiar with IJM, here’s a great overview.