Members of the Inter-Congregational Anti-Human Trafficking Team have been busy in 2019 and we are happy to share some stories that have come in from around the world. Sr. Kathleen Bryant was very pleased to learn that a talk she gave in 2017 to MPI (Meeting Professionals International) back in 2017 has borne fruit as the group have committed to signing the code A Pledge to combat Human Trafficking. In their announcement of the signing, which took place on 4th April, MPI wrote:
“MPI’s original commitment to this cause came in 2017, when President and CEO Paul Van Deventer, who will be signing The Code on behalf of MPI, heard Sister Kathleen Bryant, a Religious Sister of Charity from Los Angeles and a board member of the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, address an MPI International Board of Directors meeting.” You can read more by following this LINK.
The sisters in California were also part of the organising committee of a Film & Arts Festival, “See It! End It!” which was held March 29-30 to raise awareness of human trafficking at the historic Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro. Read Sr. Kathleen’s account of the event here.
On the 23rd of January 2019, Sr. Eilís Coe (Ireland) attended the launch of the RENATE research, “Child Trafficking in Europe”, in the Churchill Room, House of Commons, Westminster. The lunchtime reception was hosted by Lord Hogan-Howe and was addressed by Ian Duncan Smith MP. The guests were mostly religious women from UK, Ireland, Malta and Albania.
As well as this, Sr. Eilís was one of the APT (Act to Prevent Trafficking) team who planned a Conference ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ which was held on 1st March 2019 to promote awareness around World Day against Human Trafficking. Mr. Kevin Hyland, Co-ordinator of the Santa Marta Group and former UK Commissioner for Human Trafficking was the keynote speaker of the day and addressed an audience of ca. 120 people. Read Eilís’s account of the day here.
Sr. Coleen Jackson rsc (of our sister Congregation in Australia) was in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to speak to a group of Religious from Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Human trafficking and slavery-like practices are serious concerns in PNG and the Solomon Islands – both countries being source, destination and transit countries for traffickers. Religious in both countries have long been deeply committed to recognising exploitation and injustice, responding to eliminate it, and caring for its victims. Sr. Coleen is the Talitha Kum Representative for Oceania and it was on this account she was invited to PNG by Sr Mary Garnier AD, interim President of the Federation of Religious of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (FOR). Sr. Coleen will report the outcome of her meeting to the Talitha Kum Network Meeting taking place in Rome this month.
Sr. Kayula Lesa meanwhile was in Rome in April in her capacity as a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Much of her work in Zambia is around awareness raising through her project called D4D (Dialogue for Development). In February she wrote : ‘Since we began activities in Mulanga, both government and other stakeholders have become very interested in the Project. Last year, the Chief (Chibesakunda) had heard about it and when we visited the palace, he invited D4D to train his advisors and headmen for about 30 villages. That we did last week and we had about a 100 people that included Councillors in the area and the Police- Chief Inspector and the Director for the Victim Support Unit of Shiwangandu District. Last year too, a Councillor responsible for Muchinga Ward invited us to train people from 10 villages. The message is therefore spreading.’
On the global front it is good to read the news that Pope Francis called on Consolata Sister Eugenia Bonetti, 80, who has been on the frontlines in the fight against human trafficking, to write this year’s Way of the Cross meditations. She will prepare the texts for the evening service April 19, Good Friday, at Rome’s Colosseum.