In 2014, Kimberly Hawkins graduated from Berry College with a degree in international studies. Throughout her time in college, she worked for a youth ministry teaching students about the gospel and race. Upon graduating, she felt the Lord had made it abundantly clear to her that she was to move to Alabama to attend Cumberland School of Law.
“I wanted nothing more than to hop on the mission field overseas,” Hawkins said, “so, when the Lord said that it wasn’t time yet, I was frustrated.” Then she remembered an organization that used lawyers in their plan to help eliminate slave trade all over the world—International Justice Mission (IJM).
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., IJM is currently the largest organization in the world that fights slavery. From issues such as sex trafficking and cybersex trafficking in the Philippines to the land theft of widows in Uganda, IJM works to rescue slaves by partnering with local law enforcement. The organization has successfully freed 45,000 people from slavery over the last 20 years.
During my first month of law school, I was told that I had no chance of ever working with IJM because the organization only hires from the Department of Justice and Ivy League schools—not from Alabama.
Following her graduation from Cumberland in 2017, Hawkins went to work as the women’s minister for Iron City Church in Birmingham, while waiting on her dream opportunity. It wasn’t long after graduation that she received an “out-of-the-blue” email from the director of IJM’s intern and fellows program who also happened to be the head of the field office based in Accra, Ghana.
The email came with an exciting offer for Hawkins—the offer to participate in a highly competitive international legal fellowship with their organization.
She accepted the fellowship and began her yearlong work in Ghana at the end of January 2019.
During the fellowship, Hawkins will aid in the prosecution of human traffickers who lure families into giving them their sons with the promise of an education, only to entrap these boys in the fishing industry. Boys as young as six years old are starved, beaten and forced to dive in Lake Volta to fish where many of them drown due to the depths.
The legal knowledge that I learned from my time at Cumberland is what I’m taking to help set the captives free.