Can Umantad Falls Candijay, Bohol
Photo Credit: Louella Downs
Louella (Ella) Downs graduated in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in International and Global Studies from the University of Central. Ella is the daughter of U.S. Air Force Major William Downs, who was KIA while assigned to AFSOC, AFSO Air Warfare Center, 6th SOS, Operation Iraqi Freedom, on May 30, 2005.
During her Spring 2017 semester, Ella participated in SOWF-funded a study abroad opportunity in Toulouse, France, studying Business and Culture. This experience fueled her interest in international culture and travel. As she continued her education, Ella continued to pursue her passion for the global community, which resulted in receiving an internship opportunity through the University of Central Florida with the International Justice Mission (IJM).
“My internship is with International Justice Mission (IJM): the largest organization fighting modern slavery. Violence against the poor is rampant across the globe, and IJM’s ambition is to end impunity to protect so many people. The casework of IJM’s Philippines offices is the online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) – a massive issue in this country. The problem is international in nature, as it entails a two-fold perpetration, including local traffickers and online sex-offenders. The latter of these two is most often based in a western country, so the international nature of the crime adds to its’ complexity and the difficulty to solve it. This internship means a great deal to me because it allows me to be a small cog in a large machine doing, in my opinion, some of the most important work of our day.
Being assigned to the Philippines carried a specific impact for me because my dad had done a lot of work here while he was serving in the Air Force. He loved the people here, and I was always interested to hear his stories when he came home to us. My dad taught me to fight for justice, particularly for vulnerable peoples, and that’s exactly the opportunity I have with IJM. Advocating for rights of people around the world was the reason I chose my degree (International and Global Studies, minor Diplomacy). Putting my studies into use is all I could have hoped it to be. In my position, I have the chance to work alongside Filipino law enforcement, government, and the private sector to end this heinous crime. I feel equipped to live and work in a foreign culture because of my studies and experiences that SOWF supported. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: without SOWF, achieving my goals would have been put on the back burner at best, and unattainable at worst. My gratitude for your support throughout my education, and now in the professional world, is inexplicable. “