Tag Archive: Talitha Kum

Talitha Kum: 10 Years Of Hard Work Against Human Trafficking

October 16, 2019

Talitha Kum’s General Assembly takes place from 21 to 27 September. It sees the participation of 86 delegates from 48 different nations and aims to present the work the sisters are doing in different countries and discuss how to implement new strategies in the fight against human trafficking and slavery.

A special award will be given to 10 sisters who in recent years have distinguished themselves for their commitment to the cause and have been instrumental in supporting anti-trafficking networks in different countries

Talitha Kum is a project of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), in collaboration with the Union of Superiors General (USG).

Pope Francis has repeatedly decried the trafficking of persons as an open wound on the body of contemporary society and called for action to stamp it out and sustain the victims.

It’s a phenomenon that currently affects at least 40 million vulnerable people, 70% of whom are women and children.

One of the participants in Talitha Kum’s General Assembly is Australian Sister Angela Reed. She told Vatican News that in order to stamp out trafficking a there is a series of preventive measures to be implemented.

Sister Reed explained that one of the first things to be done in the fight against human trafficking is to pinpoint and address the root causes that make a person vulnerable to be trafficked.

“We need to address vulnerabilities right from the time a child is born,” she said, pointing to the fact that right from the beginning of life, “There are certain conditions that must be present.”

“We must ensure that everybody has safe and adequate housing, we should ensure that every child has access to education, that they are part of a community and not left in isolation; we have to make sure there is decent work available in the future of young women so that they are not vulnerable to sexual trafficking,” she said.

To read the full story by Chiara Colotti & Linda Bordoni on Vatican News: Click Here

‘Look And Find And Act’: Sisters Share Complexities Of Anti-Trafficking Fight

October 11, 2019

ROME — Sr. Kathleen Bryant felt the effects of Talitha Kum firsthand from California when she got an email from a fellow Religious Sister of Charity who lives in Nigeria three weeks before the umbrella organization’s Sept. 21-27 gathering in Rome.

“She had rescued three girls, but one of them was snatched and dragged to Ivory Coast” and later taken to Ghana, Bryant said. The sister in Nigeria, knowing Bryant was involved in anti-trafficking, asked if she could help.

Bryant reached out to Comboni Missionary Sr. Gabriella Bottani, the international coordinator of Talitha Kum, for a contact in Ghana. An umbrella network of networks, Talitha Kum unites sisters all around the world who are involved in anti-trafficking ministries.

Shortly after, the Daughter of Charity based in Ghana was able to locate the 15-year-old, who was then being sold at a local marketplace and is now in the process of being rescued. (Bryant, to her surprise, met the Ghanaian sister in Rome at the recent gathering celebrating 10 years of Talitha Kum.)

“We try to work with police agencies and forces and coalitions, [but it’s a] slow process, working with these organizations,” she said. “Whereas sisters are on the ground; they can look and find and act.”

At the Talitha Kum gathering, sisters shared how they, indeed, look and find and act, rising to the occasion to combat trafficking in all its forms, illustrating how one vast continent or small country can contain so many complexities within its borders.

Europe

Mercy Sr. Lynda Dearlove, founder and CEO of the charity Women at the Well, frequently spends time at King’s Cross, the original red-light district of London. Dearlove’s work providing services to women affected by prostitution enables them “to exit at their own speed in their own way.”

The services the charity offers — including drug treatment, showers and laundry, counseling and access to job training, education and state benefits — are to “build up that resilience, enabling them to take the next step to move on,” she said.

Yet Dearlove said her biggest work is in changing attitudes. “But to do that, you have to first change the law.”

“I believe that the woman who is sold in prostitution should not be further victimized by a law that penalizes her for that very exploitation. But everything else should be criminal: those who purchase the women and use and abuse them, those who profit from, those who manage those situations.”

Dearlove said her focus is on affecting the language used within the legal discussions on modern slavery and trafficking, and on working at the national level and with the Holy See and the United Nations.

“Unless we change those systems of oppression, it doesn’t matter how many we rescue because there will be more women brought in,” she said. “It is about supply and demand. If we don’t do something to stop demand, the laws actually create a situation that the traffickers thrive from. … If you traffic drugs, it’s used once, whereas a woman trafficked into sexual exploitation gives again and again.”

Almost 2,000 miles away in Malta, an island south of Italy that’s become a port for African migrants, Good Shepherd Sr. Margaret Gonzi has spent the last few years learning about the ties trafficking shares with migration and domestic violence, her two areas of focus.

Gonzi said the Maltese government has “always been welcoming” of migrants and would “do its best to help them and not send them back.”

This year, with Gonzi’s involvement, the government launched its first national anti-trafficking campaign, Human Like You, to raise awareness on the exploitation of foreign workers. Gonzi has worked to expand the anti-trafficking sphere of influence by speaking on radio stations, at large conferences, and to university students.

This month, her congregation will open a “second stage shelter” for women, Santa Bakhita, named for St. Josephine Bakhita. While the first shelter in Gonzi’s convent has focused on immediate needs for women either vulnerable to trafficking or escaping it, she said the new shelter is more about empowerment: teaching life skills such as budgeting or job training, for example, or providing trauma care.

Africa

With a civil war dividing the English- and French-speaking regions of Cameroon, Sr. Mercy Muthoni last year felt it was time to formalize her relationships in anti-trafficking and begin a Cameroonian Talitha Kum network.

A Missionary Sister of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Muthoni works in the country’s northwestern English-speaking region, “an area that is very poor, where farmers live hand to mouth,” where the education system has been suffering since the war began, where houses are being burned down and refugees are on the move to Nigeria and neighboring countries, she said.

 

To read the full article by Soli Salgado on Global Sisters Report: Click Here

Final Declaration of the Talitha Kum 10th Anniversary General Assembly

October 4, 2019

Six board members and the Executive Director of US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking joined 80 other delegates in Rome, Italy from September 21-27, 2019 for the 10th Anniversary Talitha Kum General Assembly. Throughout the week delegates reflected on the reality of human trafficking in their various contexts around the world and set priorities for the work of Talitha Kum International for the following five years. Below is the Final Declaration from the Assembly, which was approved and presented on Friday, September 27, 2019.

FINAL DECLARATION—TALITHA KUM ASSEMBLY

27 SEPTEMBER 2019

We, 86 delegates from 48 countries, representatives of 52 Talitha Kum networks committed to work to end trafficking in persons on all continents, gathered in Rome at the International Union of Superiors General in thanksgiving and prayerful discernment from September 21 – 27, 2019 to:

  • celebrate the 10th anniversary of Talitha Kum;
  • evaluate the work done together according to the priorities set in 2016; and
  • define the priorities for Talitha Kum International to support anti-trafficking efforts for the period of 2020-2025.

Human trafficking throughout the world takes many forms. As members of an international network and followers of Jesus Christ, we hear the call to respond to the root causes of human trafficking which transcend national borders. In order to live our mission and vision, we have identified three priority areas of structural injustice to address in the fight to end human trafficking.

First priority: The power differential between men and women in all sectors: economic, social, familial, political, cultural and religious.

We denounce the objectification and denigration of women that contributes to a global culture of exploitation and violence against women, reflected in human trafficking. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, 72% of people exploited through human trafficking are women and girls. There are many forms of human trafficking including sexual exploitation, labor exploitation, and illegal organ removal. When it comes to sex trafficking, females make up an even higher percentage of victims.

We call on the Church, as the Body of Christ and an example to society, to witness to the value and dignity of women and girls by promoting their proper role in all sectors. May this commitment be reflected within the Church by involving women in decision-making processes, especially on topics that impact them. We call on Episcopal Conferences, Religious Brothers and Sisters, and Diocesan Clergy and laity to collaborate with women as equals in order to transform the culture of domination and to support the networks of Talitha Kum in their diocese and local communities. We call on governments around the world to ensure that law and policy promotes and protects the dignity and rights of women and girls.

We commit ourselves to empower one another as leaders in the fight to end human trafficking; to strengthen our networks’ inclusive model of working together; to stand in solidarity with all who are oppressed, especially women and girls; and to promote the dignity and equality of all people.

Second priority: The dominant model of neo-liberal development and unfettered capitalism creates situations of vulnerability that are exploited by recruiters, traffickers, employers and buyers.

We denounce this unjust economic model that prioritizes profit over human rights, creates a culture of violence and commodification, and decreases funding for necessary social services, putting people at greater risk of being trafficked. This also affects programs of prevention, protection, support, integration and reintegration of trafficked people. We denounce the widespread corruption that allows this evil to continue.

We call on the Church to continue to use Catholic Social Teaching to critique social structures and promote economic and social justice. We call on governments to adopt just alternatives to the neo-liberal model of development; to implement anti-trafficking laws; and allocate more funding for the support of long-term programs to prevent human trafficking and assist survivors in their process of healing to re/integrate into society. These programs should be created with input directly from survivors and those who work with survivors such as Talitha Kum networks.

We commit ourselves to just and sustainable economic practices within our networks. We also commit ourselves to create spaces of interdisciplinary reflection, collaboration, and advocacy within the various ecclesial, interfaith, government, and international organizations according to Gospel values and Catholic Social Teaching.

Third Priority: Unjust and inadequate immigration law and policy coupled with forced migration and displacement puts people at greater risk of being trafficked.

We denounce the unjust immigration laws and policies rooted in a culture of racism and xenophobia which deny the basic human rights of people on the move. We denounce the dehumanizing political rhetoric which feeds hate, division, and violence. We denounce the harsh immigration policy that drives victims of human trafficking into the shadows, making the work of identification of victims and prosecution of perpetrators more difficult.  

We call on all Catholics and people of good will to take prophetic action consistent with Pope Francis’ call to pray for, welcome, protect, promote, and integrate migrants, refugees, and internally displaced people in order to prevent them from falling into the hands of traffickers. We call on governments to implement migration policy and border controls that prevent human trafficking and protect the safety, dignity, human rights, and fundamental freedoms of all migrants regardless of their migratory status.

We commit ourselves to work across borders and boundaries through our networks in order to ensure safe migration and prevent recruitment of migrants by traffickers during their journey and accompany them on their return. We commit ourselves to use our collective voice and engage government officials to promote and enforce just immigration laws and policies.

We know that only by working in collaboration and solidarity, weaving a web in love, will we be able to confront the structural issues that cause and perpetuate human trafficking. As members of the global Catholic Church, we affirm the Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking and will incorporate its directions into our work. We invite everyone to join us in prayer for successful implementation of this important work to end human trafficking. Together, we will create a future filled with prophetic hope by working together, forming a network of compassion and grace!

Talitha Kum Internal Priorities for 2020-2025 

The Assembly also set internal priorities to grow and strengthen our Network and deepen our impact in ending human trafficking. Talitha Kum in 2020-2025 will focus on improving our networking, communication, and formation resources and opportunities. We will prioritize work in education and prevention, survivor services, advocacy, and growing the network with priority in Africa and Asia.

 

Religious Sisters At Forefront Of Fight Against Human Trafficking, Slavery

August 12, 2019

UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — A worldwide network of 2,000 Catholic religious sisters marked the 10th anniversary of its efforts to combat human trafficking and slavery July 29.

Speakers from the Talitha Kum organization headlined a United Nations panel on the eve of the U.N. annual observance of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

“Human trafficking is one of the darkest and most revolting realities in the world today, ensnaring 41 million men and women, boys and girls,” said Father David Charters, second secretary of the Vatican’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations.

 “It is, as Pope Francis has repeatedly stressed, ‘an open wound on the body of contemporary society,’ a ‘crime against humanity’ and an ‘atrocious scourge that is present throughout the world on a broad scale,’” he said.

Father Charters said the international response to the global phenomenon includes three specific targets in the U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They commit the organization’s members to fight trafficking and sexual exploitation, take immediate action to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and end all forms of violence against and torture of children.

Comboni Sister Gabriella Bottani is the international coordinator of the Rome-based Talitha Kum. She said it is a network of networks established by the International Union of Superiors General to coordinate and strengthen the anti-trafficking work being done by consecrated women in 77 countries on five continents.

“Talitha Kum” were the words Jesus addressed to a young apparently lifeless girl in the Gospel of Mark. The Aramaic phrase is translated, “Young girl, I say to you, ‘Arise.’” The network seeks to free people, raise them up and restore their dignity.

Sister Bottani said Talitha Kum uses a victim-centered approach to identify people in need and support them with shelter, social reintegration and education.

“We do not have a model to export. Each of the organizations in the network promotes initiatives against trafficking in its particular local context,” she said.

Some of the sisters dedicate their entire ministry to trafficked and enslaved people, while others provide housing and emergency intervention as needed.

As an example, Sister Bottani said members of the network met a caravan of Hondurans in October 2018 as they passed through Guatemala on their way to hoped-for sanctuary in the United States. They identified potential victims of trafficking and offered assistance, she said.

Talitha Kum also works with some men religious and has begun an interreligious collaboration with women in the Middle East, Sister Bottani said.

Sister Melissa Camardo, a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas, is the director of development for LifeWay Network, a safe housing and education program that operates three sites in the New York metropolitan area.

Each house has a full-time core community of three religious sisters who work with a full-time house manager and part-time social worker to provide supportive care and access to education, social services and other tools to prepare for independent living.

Sister Camardo said the houses offer healing in a loving, imperfect, striving community” that is open to both domestic and foreign-born survivors of labor and sex trafficking. The sisters at each site are drawn from several religious communities.

LifeWay guests are referred by social service providers and may have short-term emergency stays or participate in a year-long transitional program. After leaving LifeWay houses, women also are invited to join a mentorship program that uses trauma-informed approaches to increase the survivors’ sense of safety and support their empowerment and self-sufficiency.

Sister Camardo said LifeWay has served more than 100 women from 37 countries. They include Ansa Noreen, who came to the United States from Pakistan as one of four new brides of an American husband. She said entering a “fake” marriage is a matter of survival for many women in developing countries and is a form of human trafficking.

 “It’s a way to exploit vulnerable girls,” she said.

To read the full story by Beth Griffin on Catholic Philly: Click Here

An Italian Nun’s Expert Advice: What You Can Do To Fight Human Trafficking

July 18, 2019

Denver, Colo., Jul 1, 2019 / 03:48 am (CNA).- Human trafficking is “happening closer to us than we think,” and Catholic groups are increasingly committed to fighting it through advocacy, prayer and action, global anti-trafficking leader Sister Gabriella Bottani, S.M.C., has said.

“What we should do, more and more, is to be aware and to try to understand what trafficking is in our reality, in our communities,” Bottani told CNA June 26 during a Denver visit.

“I think that since Pope Francis started to speak against trafficking there is an increasing commitment in the Church at all levels,” she said.

At the highest levels of the Church, the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development is working on anti-trafficking issues and coordinating different agencies, including the anti-trafficking network Talitha Kum.

Bottani, a Comboni Missionary Sister, has been official coordinator of Talitha Kum since 2015. The network is led by religious sisters, with more than 2,000 of them being a part of the network. Talitha Kum has representatives in 77 countries and 43 national networks.

Members of the network have served 10,000 trafficking survivors by accompanying them to shelters and other residential communities, engaging in international collaboration, and aiding survivors’ return home. Bottani first worked in anti-trafficking efforts in Brazil, but she now lives in Italy.

At the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. June 20, Bottani was one of many leaders recognized individually as a Trafficking in Persons Report Hero by U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump.

The U.S. State Department report praised Bottani as “one of the most prominent and influential anti-trafficking advocates within the Catholic diaspora.” It noted her anti-trafficking work in Brazil which aided vulnerable women and children in favelas. She led a national campaign against human trafficking when Brazil hosted the World Cup in 2014.

“Throughout her career, her work has inspired generations of anti-trafficking advocates within the Catholic faith,” the report said.

Bottani traveled across the U.S. with a State Department-hosted delegation of anti-trafficking leaders. She was among several speakers at a June 26 reception on the University of Denver campus hosted by WorldDenver, a World Affairs Council affiliate, and the Women’s Foundation of Colorado.

There, Bottani recounted to CNA the most recent case Talitha Kum managed at the international level: the repatriation of a young woman and mother from the Middle East to her home in Uganda.

In Uganda, this woman had lost her job and was questioning how she could support her young daughter. She received an invitation promising better work in the Middle East.

“Then when she arrived in that country, the situation was very different. There was no job for her, but there was domestic servitude,” Bottani said. “She had to be available more than 20 hours per day. She often had little food to eat.”

To read the full story by Kevin Jones on Catholic News Agency: Click Here

Women Religious Vow Solidarity In Fight Against Human Trafficking

November 12, 2018

Comboni Sister Gabriella Bottani, coordinator of Talitha Kum International Network of Consecrated Life Against Trafficking in Persons, listens at the Jesuit Retreat Center in Parma, Ohio, during an Oct. 26 meeting of women religious from throughout the Western Hemisphere who are working to stop human trafficking. (Credit: Dennis Sadowski/CNS.)

PARMA, Ohio  – There was a time years ago when Flor Molina was working in a Southern California sewing factory, earning a scant wage and sleeping at night in a storage room not far from the factory floor.

On top of that, her bosses forbid her from talking with the other employees.

It was not the life she imagined when she accepted an offer 16 years ago from a factory recruiter in her native Mexico who promised good pay and decent housing.

Molina had made the difficult decision to leave her mother and children behind in Mexico for six months so she could save the $5,000 she needed to start her own sewing business. She had been sewing clothes and gained a decent customer base; she dreamed of taking the next step as an entrepreneur.

After 40 days in the factory, Molina escaped and found help. She realized she had become a victim of unscrupulous human traffickers and her only value to them was her labor.

Now 46 and living in Los Angeles, Molina told her story Oct. 26 to 60 participants in the Borders Are not Barriers conference of women religious, a handful of priests and justice ministry workers from throughout the Western Hemisphere working to stop human trafficking.

To read the full story by Dennis Sadowski on CRUX: Click Here

April, 2017 Monthly Reflection

April 3, 2017

Human Trafficking Survivors: Leaving Their Tombs Behind

by Sister Maryann Mueller, CSSF

As we celebrate the Feast of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we may be reminded of another Gospel story where Jesus affected the resurrection of a little girl, the twelve year old daughter of Jairus. In Mark’s Gospel we read:

He took along the child’s father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.

The phrase Talitha Kum is the name of the International Network of Consecrated Life Against Trafficking in Persons. The expression enfleshes the transformative power embodied in the daily earthly resurrections experienced by survivors wounded by human trafficking. Each time a survivor is able to hear the words “I say to you arise!” and leaves the “tomb” of a past which may drain them of life they give witness to the lesson of the resurrected Christ from which flows the strength of the human spirit.

Catholic Sisters throughout the United States and the world offer various services which help survivors arise from their unimaginable “tombs.”   Sisters provide shelter and safe housing to survivors. They are engaged with basic life skills training and with ensuring that survivors know their legal rights. Sisters assist these men and women with work skills training and help them to reintegrate into society.

One avenue that has empowered survivors of trafficking to leave the tombs of the past and rebuild their lives is businesses that train and hire survivors of trafficking. Organizations listed on the resource section of this website work with survivors of trafficking to obtain job skills and help them earn a sustainable income. Survivors may learn to make and sell candles, soap and fragrances, jewelry, bags and other gifts.  Several companies will help survivors with education, or will use proceeds to subsidize vocational programs for them. Some of these companies also hire those at risk for trafficking or donate a portion of their profits to organizations that combat human trafficking. Each purchase from any of these businesses help support and provide former victims of trafficking with the tools and opportunities to leave the tombs of their past, to “arise,” and to astound us all with the tenacity of the human spirit.

To visit our resource section: Click Here