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2022 Assembly

 

The Strength of Talitha Kum: Networking, Training and Capacity Building

 

The strength of the Talitha Kum network lies in its bottom-up, grassroots engagement and in its person- and community-centered approach, which ensures proximity to victims and survivors of trafficking, their families, and those at risk of exploitation.

In recent months, Talitha Kum’s networks have carried out several training and networking meetings at the local, regional, and continental levels, to strengthen Talitha Kum’s identity and actions against trafficking around the world. Here’s an overview of different regional meetings, starting from the most recent.

AFRICA

From the 20th to the 26th of November, the first in-person continental meeting of Talitha Kum Africa was held in Kenya. The meeting brought together 35 participants, including coordinators from 15 African countries in addressing the issue of combating human trafficking in Africa by sharing best practices and experiences.

“The gathering was an opportunity to enrich each other by deep listening and sharing experiences in our mission to end human trafficking. One of the objectives of the conference was to deepen the identity of Talitha Kum Africa, which was successfully facilitated by aiming at strengthening the members on the vision, mission, and spirituality of the Talitha Kum Network.”

Sr. Abby Avelino, MM, International Coordinator of Talitha Kum

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EUROPE

From the 13th to the 19th of November the 3rd RENATE Assembly was held, which was attended by Sr. Gabriella Bottani, SMC. The theme of the meeting was “Realising the dream: A world free of slavery”.

RENATE members gathered intending to allow themselves to be restored, renewed, and transformed by the experience of being together for a week in Fatima, Portugal.

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NORTH AMERICA

From the 26th to the 28th of October the U.S Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking network members gathered for their second annual conference with the theme “Weaving Community, Building Capacity, Affecting Change”.

“The conference was a wonderful opportunity to bring our members together to learn, celebrate our growth as a network, and re-commit ourselves to this important work. We’re already looking forward to next year when we’ll celebrate our 10th Anniversary!” 

Sr. Ann Oestreich, IHM, Regional representative of North America

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LATIN AMERICA

From the 16th to the 18th of September, in Cochabamba (Bolivia), the Commission against Trafficking in Persons, constituted of several Talitha Kum members, met at the occasion of the reunion of the CLAR (The Latin American Confederation of Religious). After this meeting, Talitha Kum International visited the new Red Kawsay Bolivia, established in February 2022 to strengthen the legacy of Talitha Kum in Bolivian territory.

“The visit of the sisters as Carmen Ugarte, osr, Regional Coordinator for Latin America, Ana Marìa Vilca, snjm, Coordinator of Red Kawsay Perù and Mayra Cuellar, mdb, of Talitha Kum International, motivated the members of Red Kawsay Bolivia to continue betting on life according to the Call to Action: care, heal, empower and restore.
We feel committed and co-responsible for weaving networks that make possible a society without human trafficking in Bolivia.”

Sr. Ana Claros, CM, Coordinator of Red Kawsay Bolivia

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ASIA

From the 22nd to the 26th of August the 4th regional conference of Talitha Kum Asia was held in Thailand with the theme “Casting the Nets as Network in Asia to End Trafficking in Persons”.

“After the conference, we agreed to strengthen the regional hub team focusing on formation, communication, prevention-networking, and advocacy. We also plan on monitoring and accompanying Talitha Kum networks in Asia, especially the newly established networks. Furthermore, each network strengthens the Talitha Kum Youth Ambassadors’ program in Asia. Talitha Kum Asia has three priorities.

These are firstly strengthening the regional hub team to focus on the Talitha Kum International priorities 2020-2025, secondly being more supportive of Talitha Kum Asia’s networks, especially the newly established networks, and thirdly empowering young people part of the Talitha Kum Youth Ambassadors’ program.

We also have a monthly study group on Talitha Kum’s Call To Action. Next year, we plan to have a series of webinars on Talitha Kum’s 2020-2025 priorities and Talitha Kum’s Call To Action.”

Sr. Paula Kwandao Phonprasertruksa, SPC, Regional representative of Asia

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UNANIMA International News from the UN and Around the World

 

Executive Director’s Reflection

Dear Friends,

As we prepared for our journey to COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, I was reminded of another journey at another time, which was the visit by Mary to Elizabeth in the gospel of Luke (LK:1, 63-64). What is clear from the story is that it’s about relationships and the relationship takes place in the context of a journey. The encounter bears witness to the urgency of the journey: “Mary went with haste” as it does for all of us now.

In a society where women were oppressed and denied their rights, Mary and Elizabeth create the “space” where they can share their stories, their experiences of God, and their hope hopes for a better future, and where they dare to prophesy and proclaim their respective visions of Liberation. Likewise, at this time in our history we religious women have found in our faith the hope and strength to struggle for justice, for dignity and the right to participate in the creation of a better future for all people. The journey we took to COP27 was for the people we represent who do not have voices. We made ourselves available for the journey, showing solidarity with and encouragement to women and girls in difficult circumstances, especially those furthest left behind in our world.

UNANIMA International, in partnership with many organizations have been on a journey together for the past year and we are convinced of the need to coordinate, collaborate, and communicate on the issue of climate change – including at various UN and International Events. We witness a world that is in a fragile state, where there are poor, overlooked, and neglected women, children, and girls. As a group, we want to see change. We want to raise our voices and proclaim that things must be different.

Unlike previous COPs, this one was not aiming for a single negotiated outcome but for action at the national level. Many of the long-term veterans at COPs were saying “this is no longer just a function of what the global community agrees, it’s how can the global community working together advance national interests and national agendas.”

Religious communities, religious leaders, and civil society have played a significant role over many years in addressing climate change and climate justice, which requires deep transformation within our communities and our societies. We already know what changes are needed to diminish long-term harm to our planet. However, like Greta Thunberg and other young activists keep saying, change in action demands deeper changes in attitude – a change of heart.

And ending as I began with the visitation experience and our unique journey to COP27, we were prophetic in our speech, courageous in our actions, and achieved what we set out to do. Significant highlights for me were the personal conversations with environmental ministers and policy analysts in which I conveyed the stories of women, children and girls affected by the climate catastrophe in the many countries where members of UI minister in. This sacred journey we undertook on your behalf and on behalf of those furthest left behind in our world was a most privileged one.

Sincerely,
Jean

What’s Happening at the UN

The 27th Conference of Parties (COP27)
The 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from November 6th – 18th. Throughout the autumn months, UNANIMA International prepared for COP27 by collaborating on an official COP27 side event, writing a statement, and engaging in advocacy/events leading up to the Conference.
UNANIMA International was greatly involved in the COP27 proceedings. The delegation – consisting of Executive Director, Jean Quinn, and Executive Assistant/Assistant UN Representative, Lara Hicks – attended numerous events in the “Blue Zone,” the conference zone to which those accredited had exclusive access. UNANIMA International also visited many Pavilions, which were hubs for countries, organizations, and coalitions relevant to COP. You can find short clips of the team visiting Pavilions that represented some regions and countries that have UNANIMA International members here. UNANIMA International also attended a meeting with the Holy See and met dozens of young people, climate activists, environmental ministers, and NGO representatives while at COP.
UNANIMA International co-organized the side event titled “Catholic Perspectives at COP27 | Climate and Biodiversity Justice from A Faith Perspective: What’s Next?” with the Carmelite NGO, VIVAT International, the Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries – Medical Mission Sisters, and International Young Catholic Students International. The side event took place in person at COP27 from 11:30am to 1pm (Egyptian time) on November 17th and was livestreamed by the UNFCCC, you can view the recording of the event here. The event consisted of a round table segment with speakers from each of the co-organizing NGOs, as well as representatives of Laudato ‘Si. On behalf of UNANIMA International, Lara Hicks delivered short remarks on the subject of women and girls, climate mobility, and homelessness related to climate change. As an outcome of the side event, a written climate justice statement incorporating the perspectives and concerns of the speakers and is currently being circulated for signature, you can view and sign it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to the main round table component of the side event, the NGO co-organizers had a video exhibit featured at the COP27 venue. The video exhibit played video clips of grassroots voices and experiences with climate change, as well as play excerpts of the film The Letter: A Message for Our Earth. You can view the virtual landing page for the video exhibit at this link.

Importantly, history was made when the Parties agreed to a fund on Loss and Damage at the conclusion of the conference. While the implementation and financial details of the fund are still to be determined, this is a step in the right direction for those most affected by climate change and disasters. Much of the progress made at COP27 focused on the effects or impacts of the climate crisis rather than the causes – fossil fuel phase outs, decreasing emissions, etc. The Sharm El Sheikh Implementation Plan, the outcome document of COP27, excludes language on these important issues and could be strengthened by more substantive language around gender and climate, climate mobility, and climate-induced homelessness. You can read more about UNANIMA International’s experience and our Executive Director’s reflections in the Global Sisters Report article, here.

To read UNANIMA International’s COP27 statement, visit our website here and check out our social media pages where the statement was launched. Be sure to follow our social media pages and blog for the latest updates on outcomes of COP27 and for more information about post-COP27 events and initiatives from UNANIMA International!

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2022

Each year, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (IDEP) takes place on October 17th at the United Nations. IDEP is an important day for advocacy on the subjects of poverty, human dignity, and solutions that can break the cycles of economic injustice that millions of our planet’s most vulnerable people face each day. The Day represents a safe space of meaningful participation for people whose voices are unheard and whose life stories, when told by others, are reduced to hardships – without showing all the courage it takes to fight poverty. It is a space to share not only the struggles they face in their lives but also their aspirations for the future. The IDEP holds space for a joint reflection on the commitment to end poverty by 2030, strengthening the continued partnerships and dialogue between civil society, Member States, communities and other stakeholders.

This year, IDEP’s theme ”Dignity for All in Practice: The commitments we make together for social justice, peace, and the planet.” An official IDEP program took place at the UN in the ECOSOC Chamber as well as virtually. UN Secretary-General António Guterres (via video message), UN General Assembly President Mr. Csaba Kőrösi, and International Movement ATD Fourth World President Donald Lee were among the many excellent speakers at the event. Moreover, one of the most consistently impactful parts of the IDEP is the inclusion of people with a lived experience of poverty. Andrew Holohan, an activist with a lived experience of poverty from Ireland delivered especially powerful remarks. Musical pieces and performances were also featured throughout the event. You can view the recording of the IDEP event here, we highly encourage you to check it out!

61st Commission for Social Development Updates

UNANIMA International is playing an active role in the civil society preparations for the 61st Commission for Social Development (CSocD61), which will take place from February 6 – 15, 2023. The priority theme for CSocD61 is Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Jean Quinn, UNANIMA International’s Executive Director, is serving as the Chair of the NGO Committee for Social Development (NGO CSocD) for the 2022 – 2024 term.
In addition to serving on the Executive Committee for NGO CSocD, UNANIMA International has submitted a written statement for CSocD61 which focuses on the need for a just transition and the dignity of people to be recognized in labor, employment, and decent work policies. It also calls on Member States to acknowledge the deep connections between the changing world of work, livelihoods, and other human rights to effectively meet the targets of the 2030 Agenda and the Copenhagen Declaration.
The deadline for civil society and nongovernmental organizations to register is January 16, 2023.  You can register here. Be sure to regularly check out our social media pages as well as the NGO CSocD website and social media pages for CSocD61 updates!

NGO Committee Updates

NGO Committee for Social Development
The Executive Committee of the NGO Committee
for Social Development (NGO CSocD) has met regularly throughout autumn in preparation for the upcoming 61st Commission for Social Development. All members of the Committee participated in the September, October, and November monthly meetings.
As Chair, UNANIMA International’s Executive Director, Jean Quinn, has led Executive Committee meetings, devised an internal and external NGO CSocD Strategy document with members’ input, and began extensive planning for NGO CSocD’s areas of focus for CSocD61: the Civil Society Forum, the Civil Society Declaration, and Advocacy with UN Member States. You can find important updates related to NGO CSocD’s work and contributions to the Commission at the NGO CSocD website and social media platforms.
The Working Group on Girls (WGG) had its November monthly meeting and had a successful 10th anniversary of the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11th, 2022. Each year, WGG prepares an 11 days of action advocacy campaign and works with UN agencies, Member States, and other Civil Society collaborators to advocate for and alongside girls. This year, WGG has a different theme for each of the 11 days of action that lead up to October 11th.
In recognizing the 10th anniversary of IDG, the working group decided to focus on the theme of “IDG+10: Minding the Girls’ Rights Gap-Active, Accountable Participants of IDG.” UNANIMA International, in partnership with other organizations, sponsored October 3rd – day 3 of the 11 days of action – on the theme of Mental Health. On the day, UNANIMA International shared good practices from our publications related to girls’ mental health and social supports for girls. You can see all the social media posts on our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages. For more information about IDG and to learn how you can get involved in future IDG events, check out the Working Group on Girls website and social media platforms.

World Homeless Day 2022

Each year, World Homeless Day takes place on October 10th. For World Homeless Day, Sophia Housing held its inaugural Service User Forum at Cork Street. The forum brought together residents, staff, and Board Members of Sophia Housing, as well as experts by experience from Midlands Simon Community and the SAOL Project.

Sophia Housing was founded 25 years ago by UNANIMA International’s Executive Director, Jean Quinn, to provide wrap around supports and housing for people on their journeys out of the cycle of homelessness. The Service User Forum highlights the process of building local and national frameworks for greater Sophia Housing service user participation and engagement.

Jean delivered opening remarks with a focus on the mantra “don’t talk about us without us.” It was evident just how powerful and meaningful this phrase was in the presentations from Experts by Experience during the day. John McEvoy, project manager, reflects:  “the people that have real and lived experience of homelessness should be the experts on what type of homeless services are developed and Sophia has embarked on ensuring firstly that it listens to and acts on the feedback of the people it supports but also ensures that people with lived experience of homelessness can influence homeless policy at a local, regional and national level.” Sophia Housing considers the inaugural Forum to be the first step on the road which builds on the work carried out at a local level by staff and residents.

In addition to Jean’s participation in Sophia Housing’s Service User Forum, UNANIMA International launched a written statement for World Homeless Day 2022. The statement focuses on urban homelessness, climate change, and displacement. It urges Member States to center efforts to address homelessness/displacement at the heart of their sustainable development strategies. It implores our communities to consider how different manifestations of homelessness intersect with thematic and priority issues frequently brought up at the UN, and states that we cannot sufficiently meet the targets of Sustainable Development Goals without properly working to end homelessness across the globe. To view UNANIMA International’s full statement and recommendations please click on this link.

Partnership with the International Union of Superiors General

UNANIMA International has partnered with the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) on multiple events and initiatives in the lead up to COP27.

On Tuesday, October 25th, UISG hosted the webinar “Catholic Sisters at COP27.” Jean Quinn, UNANIMA International’s Executive Director served as a panelist for this webinar alongside Sisters and representatives from UISG, the Justice Coalition of Religious, and the Dominican Leadership Conference. The event convened Sisters and faith-based organizations for discussion around COP27 and highlighted the impact of Sisters advocating for our common home: Earth. You can watch the recording of the event, here.

Additionally, Jean participated as a speaker in UISG’s event “Sisters for the Environment: Integrating Voices from the Margins.” This event was held on Thursday, November 3rd to officially launch the statement Sisters for the Environment in-person at UISG’s headquarters in Rome as well as online. This statement, written by UISG, was born out UNANIMA International and UISG’s side event collaboration and partnership at the UN High-Level Political Forum back in July. You can listen to Jean’s remarks and view the recording of the event at this link.

Urban October Event: “Gender Equality, Women’s Land and Housing Rights: Bridging the Gap”

The Extraordinary Ordinary Podcast – made as part of the Women of the Year Series.

 

The Extraordinary Ordinary Podcast, from Women of the Year, shines a light on incredible achievements by women who you’ve probably never heard of (until now), but whose passion, dedication, and fierce determination has changed society, their communities, and the world, in ways that will inspire and uplift you. (http://www.womenoftheyear.co.uk/ ).

Series 2, Episode 5 features former President of RENATE Europe, Sr. Imelda Poole, IBVM; “an extraordinary ordinary nun on fighting modern slavery.’’

To hear both seasons 1 and 2 plus the interview with Imelda Poole, IBVM: https://audioboom.com/channels/5062115

KAVOD ministeries continue their outreach to UKRAINE

 

THE FOLLOWING IS AN UPDATE BY SABINE AND ANDREAS FROM KAVOD MINISTRIES ABOUT THEIR ONGOING WORK IN UKRAINE. CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE AND SUPPORT THEM.

On Sunday 2nd October we left on our fourth trip to Ukraine.

By  this stage these journeys have almost become routine. Andreas is  now at the point that, once we have crossed the Hungary-Ukraine  border, he almost feels like he is coming ‘home’. These border crossings can still be quite tense though. You never know how long they are going to take or what will be searched through and  checked this time. But so far everything has gone turned out alright. 

The first stage of the trip from Mukachevo to Ivano Frankivsk, where this time we  stayed the night with a friend, passes through the foothills of the Carpathians, so it’s  lovely countryside. Everywhere people are at the side of the road, selling delicious  mushrooms they’ve gathered in the woods. 

We reached Kyiv on the Monday. The journey is so familiar now that we are -almost- ready to switch of our navigator. New four lane roads run dead straight for  miles on end. But there are other kinds of road too. If you do decide to put the road  map to one side and follow what the navigator tells you, then you end up on -as we  all know – the ‘most direct route’, and this can mean landing on very small,  appallingly maintained tar-surfaced roads, or on stretches of gravel which are  generally a little better. We have covered quite a few kilometers on these, at a much  reduced speed. 

On the first day in Kyiv we had the privilege of speaking to students at the  theological seminary. These young people will play a role in the future of the country  and so it was appropriate that Andreas spoke to them about anger – anger towards  the the instigator of this war, and learning how to deal with that anger as God wants  us to. 

After meeting these students, we travelled on to Velika Dymerka, a small town of  around five thousand people which had been occupied in February and March.  There we had two open air meetings. (Throughout our stay the autumn weather was  consistently lovely.) 

A car graveyard in Irpin

The following day we were in Irpin, where we were able  to speak to a large number of people, this time indoors, in a church. Some of  them were refugees from other parts of the country 

Near Bucha we visited a mental health facility. We met some soldiers there,  who impressed us greatly. Many of them had been involved in fighting against  Russia since 2014. It is often overlooked that the fighting actually began eight  years ago, not just this year. 

After that, together with our translator Alla, we moved on to Kozelets. It was our third visit we have been there and so were greeted almost like old friends. The brand new church building is already too small for all the congregation and so between 9 o’clock and 1 o’clock we were involved in three separate services attended by a total of 500 people.

Andreas preached, and Sabine talked briefly about trauma and post-traumatic stress before introducing the program of four exercises designed to regulate stress and help with panic attacks. These people have no opportunity at all during this war to get proper therapy, and even though these exercises are not as powerful as that would be, they still offer valuable, direct help in dealing with fear.

First of all there is a breathing exercise which is known to reduce blood pressure levels. The second exercise, derived by Sabine’s colleague
Dr.Ewa Katarzyna Budna from Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, has a soothing effect on the psyche. Then there is the ‘safe’ exercise, in which every evening all worries and fears are locked up in an imaginary ‘safe’, hopefully making it easier to get a good night’s sleep. Finally we encourage everyone just to be there for each other and to show this in a simple way – by embracing each other. Hugs have a direct effect on the body and are simply good of you!

At the mention of trauma, many people began to nod their understanding. Some began to  cry. Our main message is: You are not a victim, you are a survivor! Fear will not rule  over you! Both this message and the exercises get through to the audience. One older  lady whom we met four months ago, stood up to say something. At that time her son had  just been killed by the Russians and she had been utterly distraught. Now she told  everyone that since she had learned how to do the exercises, they had often helped her  so that she was no longer in such a bad state. After each one of our talks, packets of food  were distributed.

On Monday 10th October, the war came closer to us than it had ever been. Attacks were launched on cities across Ukraine. Explosions occured close to where we were staying.
Nevertheless, the next day we decided to continue on to Kharkiv. We were sure this was 
the right thing to do. There we worked together with a pastor and his team of co-workers. Their church has been demonstrating practical love by supplying humanitarian support to 12000 people each month. A truck with 20 tons of aid had just arrived from Slovakia. The building is used both as a warehouse and accommodation – until recently also for soldiers stationed in the town. Two weeks previously the front line had been only 5 kilometers away from the city.

We came across evidence of this same practical love in all  sorts of places. We stayed with Tetiana, an amazing woman who until three weeks before had hosted soldiers – as well as 20 refugees who had lost their own homes. From Kharkiv we went with some of the co-workers of the church to Kupyansk and its surrounding villages, a trip of around 100 km, into an area very close to the front. We carried out our program there too and distributed aid. All the time we could hear explosions. We  were obviously right in the middle of a war. 

In our last night in Kharkiv, too, there were several missile strikes. Somehow people have  found a way to keep on with normal life despite them.

Back in Kyiv we were involved in two further outreaches led by Pastor Igor’s church.  As we have mentioned, Pastor Igor is our main contact in Ukraine. He has become  a real friend.  

So how can we sum up this two week trip? Much to our own surprise, we reached out to  around 1400 people. We hope we were able to give them lasting help. We keep thinking  about something one of our Ukrainian women friends wrote to us: 

“May the eyes of the people you have helped inspire you to continue to do what  you do.” 

What are the next steps? we are planning another trip for December. We are  looking forward to celebrating Christmas  and New Year with our friends there. 

Get in touch and Support Kavod Ministries in Ukraine