World Day of Social Justice is a United Nations-declared day recognising the need to promote social justice throughout the world. To mark the day, we spoke to Sr Kayula Lesa about her work in areas including anti-trafficking and the safeguarding of children in Zambia. From the Chinsali district of Zambia, Sr Kayula professed her vows in 1994 and has worked with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and the Meheba Refugee Settlement in Solwezi, where she was an education co-ordinator. She studied English at the University of Zambia in Lusaka, and received a masters degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
Since 2014, Sr Kayula has worked with Dialogue for Development, an RSC-founded peace-building programme that aims to foster human rights through dialogue with different stakeholders in Zambia (link). The project works at local and national levels to promote human rights and increase awareness of issues including human trafficking and the safeguarding of children.
Anti-human trafficking has been integral to the mission of the Religious Sisters of Charity. While human trafficking across international borders is recognised widely as an issue in Zambia, what often receives less attention is internal human trafficking. This can occur when young women from the countryside are moved from marginalised and rural communities to urban areas to work as indentured services. The RSC also offer counselling services to those recovering from their experience.
Through talks and discussion with traditional leaders such as village headmen and headwomen as well as teachers, parents and school children, Sr Kayula and her colleagues are continuously working to raise awareness of human trafficking. They train members of the community to identify potential cases of human trafficking and abuse, and encourage priests, sisters and lay-people to report these cases. Sr Kayula also hosts a phone-in radio programme to raise awareness of the issue.
Anti-trafficking work on a national level involves liaising with the Zambian government and various departments (e.g. Education, Social Welfare, Home Office, Foreign Office) as well as organisations like Misean Cara, an international and Irish faith-based missionary movement. Several Sisters also sit on an inter-ministerial committee on human trafficking.
Sr Kayula’s work also includes the safeguarding of children and in 2014, she was appointed to a Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Comprising of an international panel from multiple disciplines, the commission’s goal is to advise Pope Francis in the safeguarding and protection of minors in the Church.
The work of Sr Kayula Lesa and her RSC sisters embodies the ideals of the United Nations-declared World Day of Social Justice.