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2022 Assembly

 

SOLWODI Hungary prepares for St. Bakhita Day commemoration in Budapest

 

Agnes Martony

During January 2024 SOLWODI Hungary had a busy period.

We have been called out to give an awareness raising lecture for girls between age 14-18 in a state-run institution. We were jointly invited by the institution and the Franciscan sisters who help with the girls.

Sr. Gabriella and Sr. Judit were talking about Bakhita Josefina, her life, and her journey from slavery to freedom. They also gave a motivational talk about the value of each person and there was a Q&A session afterword. Small, donated notebooks were presented to the girls as a gift from SOLWODI Hungary. We think it was a successful visit as not just the teachers and the leaders of the institution were very keen to get more information about trafficking, but some girls also wanted a follow up from us. We hope that this was not a once-off visit in the institution but that we could keep the contact with them.

At the moment, we are busy preparing our St. Bakhita day in Budapest. We will have our yearly commemorative mass at 18:00 CET on Thursday 8th February 2024 in the Jesus Szive Templom (1085 Budapest, Mária utca 25). Mass will be celebrated by Fr.Gabor Bellovics SJ and will be an hour of adoration afterwards.

Everyone is welcome!

25th ANNIVERSARY OF PROJECT MIRIAM IN PADOVA

 

We carry out many initiatives for the girls welcomed in the house, but what makes me grow is doing something with them, walking with them.

On December 16, 2023, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our shelter for women victims of trafficking in Padova. The event began with a solemn Eucharistic celebration presided over by Bishop Claudio Cipolla at the parish of San Giovanni Battista in Pontevigodarzere. An appointment that shows how much the “Miriam Project” is dear to the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor and that in this quarter of a century, has involved about twenty nuns who have succeeded each other in serving women, young and old.

The event then featured a presentation of images and testimonies from those who organized, followed, helped, and lived in this precious project. All, although different in experiences and sensitivities, tell the same feeling: that of “living in a family, in a real home, made of care and Franciscan simplicity.”

About 300 trafficking victims have been guests of Project Miriam in these 25 years, but many more have been supported in their path to emancipation and autonomy even without becoming guests. The Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, a congregation founded in the mid-nineteenth century in Germany by Franziska Schervier and present in Italy since 1947, arrived in Padova in 1988 and immediately began caring for the poorest, disabled, and young people in search of the meaning of their lives. It was almost spontaneous for them to respond to the call of then-Bishop Antonio Mattiazzo in 1994, who appealed to the consecrated women of his diocese to help the numerous women on the streets, exploited for sexual reasons.

At that time, exploitation was evident and dangerous, but there were no laws, so nothing could be done. Paradoxically, these women were invisible. It was an absurd condition: foreign women convinced to come to Italy to find work but instead forced into prostitution, treated like slaves. They had no money and, above all, no documents; it was necessary to break the bond with the exploiter to emancipate themselves.

Only in 1998 did the then-Minister Livia Turco include an article – number 18 – in the new immigration law desired by the Prodi Government. This article provides a residence permit for social protection for trafficking victims who choose to leave their situation and report their exploiters. Moreover, the law also guarantees a protection path in a suitable structure. So, in 1998, we finally managed to implement this project: the house, owned by the Diocese of Padova, has a secret address to ensure adequate protection for those who ask for our help.

In recent years, the phenomenon of trafficking has changed, and new ways of assistance are being sought. However, from the beginning, what has determined the start and life of the Project is a strong spirit of collaboration and network among many local services. This has allowed and still allows the possibility of providing these girls with multidisciplinary and qualitative help to reintegrate and integrate with dignity into Italian social life.

Another word that expresses what we have tried to live every day is CARE. The women we welcome, sometimes minors, have needed to bring order to their lives, to take control of them, to direct them towards their own well-being. It has been a long journey for all of them to become aware and savour their dignity, a path of self-determination gained day after day. They needed to be accompanied in the choices that slowly led them to autonomy: self-esteem, trust, work, home, self-care, and care for their loved ones. This care involves attention, listening, welcoming, presence, sometimes words of encouragement and correction, and sometimes just silence. It’s a care that involves waiting, the certainty that the little seed will sprout and grow like a seedling.

Inside the house, there is a beautiful handmade object workshop for favours and small decorations for the home. It plays an important educational role in the women’s journey. There, they have the opportunity to rediscover beauty in general, but above all, their ability to create beautiful things, to realize new things, to be protagonists and creative.

Finally, Project Miriam involves several volunteers and young people who help us create positive relationships among people. Increasingly, we realize how important it is to raise awareness about this phenomenon, still so present and little known.

We would like to share the testimony of one of our guests (whose name is invented), who after a long time has found trust in herself and others. This story and many others give us strength and hope to continue this service.

Sr. Carla and Sr. Gabriella

Sisters and operatives in Project Miriam with our Congregation Minister and Councilor.

Testimony of Olivia

When I arrived at Project Miriam, I was just 18 years old. I arrived at night, accompanied by the carabinieri. I was very scared because I didn’t know where they were taking me. At first, I thought I was going to one of those places where everyone wears a uniform, like some kind of reform school… and that scared me a bit.

The morning after when I woke up, I realized that I wasn’t in a reform school but rather a kind of convent. We didn’t have to wear a uniform; the sisters were regular people, and I was undoubtedly in a safe place. However, I kept to myself and avoided everyone.

In the beginning, I often cried. I felt disoriented and insecure. I missed my things; I couldn’t bring anything with me, no clothes, books, or anything that reminded me of home. I remember that in the early days, I spent a lot of time by the window in my room, watching people pass by, counting cars, and daydreaming. I imagined how my life would be after experiencing such terrible things.

I didn’t talk about my past with anyone. It took almost six months for me to trust the people around me and be able to tell my story. After a few days, I started working in the workshop, and there I gradually discovered that I could create something beautiful, new, and entirely mine. I slowly began to change, to transform.

Now I am truly different—I am more outgoing, positive, joyful, and above all, open to the future. I fondly remember my first birthday celebrated at Project Miriam: it was the first time I had a birthday party. Together with the sisters, we prepared the celebration with balloons, a poster, and I cooked some typical dishes from my homeland.

Project Miriam has been a family, a safe place. Here, I have grown, and now I am appreciating the opportunities that this place has given me. For example, I have been integrated into the workforce, and now I can support myself.

I feel that the important thing is never to give up, to continue walking on the right path, even if there are obstacles, but never to go back. And to believe that one can change, become better, and start anew!

STOP Trafficking Newsletter – January 2024 edition

 

The STOP Trafficking newsletter is a monthly information resource published by the Alliance to End Human Trafficking. This month’s newsletter focuses on the new types of threat posed to children and young people via social media platforms. Predatory individuals and organizations use these platforms to target vulnerable young people for sexual exploitation, using catfishing and other grooming tactics to obtain access. This newsletter discusses the latest developments of this criminal activity and, as always, addresses the problem with solutions in the form of advocacy and action.

Trafficking in human beings: Deal on new EU rules:

 

Parliament and Council negotiators reached a provisional deal to revise rules on preventing and combating human trafficking on Tuesday.

“I’m happy with this agreement. It strengthens the protection of victims of trafficking, with a special focus on the most vulnerable victims including persons in need of international protection, women and girls and children.” – Malin Björk (The Left, Sweden), lead MEP for the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee.

Read more here: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20240122IPR17024/trafficking-in-human-beings-deal-on-new-eu-rules

Congratulations to Kevin Hyland, OBE, on new appointment as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the ARISE FOUNDATION.

 

RENATE would like to take this opportunity to extend our congratulations to Kevin Hyland, OBE, on his new appointment as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the ARISE FOUNDATION in the UK & to Ms. Wendy B. Strauss, new Vice-Chair person.
We wish CEO, Martin Foley and the entire ARISE team all the very best and look forward to continued collaboration with you.

Read more here:
https://www.arisefdn.org/post/arise-announces-new-chair-and-vice-chair-of-trustees?fbclid=IwAR2ect1Zl4DLZ3LPwWN-OdXtSgqzU9JavM5hfVWbnLssQXWvQAA54Swz1Ig

SAVE THE DATE! Upcoming Online Prayer Service hosted by House of Prayer Task Group

 

SAVE THE DATE!

We are hosting a second RENATE online prayer service next week, hosted by the RENATE House of Prayer Task Group.

Following such a successful event last October to mark EU Anti-Trafficking Day, the RENATE Core Group and House of Prayer Task Group would like to invite you to join us Thursday 1st February, at 17:00 GMT, 18:00 CET, in preparation for the celebration of St. Bakhita Day, 8th February, International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.

Led by various RENATE members, these online prayer services are a beautiful opportunity to bring forth the power of collective prayer and connectivity of the RENATE network. Please feel free to share this invitation with fellow members of your congregation, communities, friends and family.

For ease of accessing the link, the Zoom invitation will be circulated via email the evening prior, Wednesday 31st January.

If you are not already subscribed to our mailing list, please email communications@renate-europe.net to request the Zoom link.

RENATE Sponsor Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Grantee Newsletter

 

Feature: Cindy, Sr. Hortencia, Lora, Marco, Sabrina, Sr. Joyce, Sr. Jane, Angelique, Sr. Agnes, Jodie and Nana at the Hilton Foundation’s 2023 All-Staff Retreat 

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation proudly sponsor the RENATE Network and many other organisations across the Globe, dedicated to improving the lives of individuals living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage. Their latest newsletter shares updates on their activities throughout the year.

Dear Partners and Friends, 

Warm Advent greetings from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation!  

We are living and serving in a turbulent, anxiety-inducing world, amid doubt, discouragement and weariness due to conflict, loss of life and abounding challenges. We have many reasons to contemplate this Advent on how we can bring love, hope and compassion to the people we serve, and most importantly pray for leaders and decision-makers to find amicable dialogue to end human suffering impacting vulnerable communities. We, at the Catholic Sisters Initiative, are united with you in prayers for your families and the people you serve. 

We are grateful to God and partners for the significant accomplishments in 2023. The Catholic Sisters Initiative distributed $48.8 million to support sisters and their ministries, and gained approval for 62 new grants. We are so grateful for the many partners we met during our site visits in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, Africa and India – we are proud of the tremendous work you are doing to alleviate human suffering. During the year, we engaged in a variety of global forums to elevate sisters’ voices and highlight the work of sisters to improve the lives of people living in disadvantaged situations. We are grateful for our dedicated team, including our newest member, program officer Eduardo Moreno Cerezo – who supports our work in U.S.-Latin America.  

Thank you for your collaboration! I hope you will enjoy reading some highlights of our year as we stand together in support of the global sisterhood.   

Sincerely, 

Sr. Jane Wakahiu, LSOSF 
Associate VP of Program Operations and Head of Catholic Sisters 


Catholic Sisters as Leaders in Global Human Development

Sr. Hortencia Del Villar, Sr. Jane Wakahiu, Theresa May and Flavia Draganus
at the SATA Awards

The Foundation participated in several events this year that raised the profile of Catholic sisters as leaders in global human development. For example, the Hilton Foundation, the International Union of Superior Generals (UISG) and the ARISE Foundation collaborated to host the inaugural Sisters Anti-Trafficking Awards (SATA), which honored Sr. Seli Thomas, SMI from India for courage and creativity in addressing exploitation; Sr. Francoise Jiranonda, SPC from Thailand for excellence in network-building; and Sr. Patricia Ebegbulem, SSL for lifetime achievement in addressing exploitation. The SATA awards were held in London and featured former U.K. prime minister Theresa May and Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah as speakers, and Sr. Jane Wakahiu as a panelist.  

Catholic sisters were also well-represented at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), held in New York. The Foundation co-hosted the Bakhita Partnership for Education side event, which showcased sisters’ accomplishments in providing education for over 4,500 vulnerable girls in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. In addition, Justice Coalition of Religious (JCoR) represented over 200 congregations of Catholic women and men religious. And, ten Catholic sisters in Georgetown University’s Women in Faith Leadership Fellowship (WFLF) received certificates after one year of leadership and advocacy skills development.  

WFLF fellow Sr. Rosemary Nyirumbe also spoke at the Women Deliver Conference in Kigali, Rwanda in July. This global conference convened 6,000 in-person attendees, and Foundation staff and WFLF fellows hosted a private event on “Building Faith and Development to Advance Gender Equality.” The event highlighted how partnerships with faith actors can break cycles that perpetuate poverty, gender-based violence, child marriage, human trafficking and other challenges to gender equality.  

The World Union of Catholic Women’s (WUCWO) held its general assembly in Assisi, Italy in May with the theme, “Women of WUCWO, Artisans of Human Fraternity for World Peace.” The event featured the world premiere of the Foundation-funded documentary film “In-Visibles,” in which women who have suffered and overcome violence are listened to and made visible. Sr. Jane and Senior Program Officer Angelique Mutombo attended the assembly and other related events at the Vatican.   

Finally, Sr. Jane had an audience with Pope Francis and met with other leaders in the Vatican, including several grantee partners. Pope Francis was quite pleased when Sr. Jane described the Foundation’s support for the education and on-going formation of Catholic sisters. He was also grateful for the Foundation’s concern for elderly sisters, including the development of a global fund to care for aged and infirm sisters. “It was an inspiring encounter that explicitly demonstrated the pope’s tenderness, compassion and joy,” remarked Sr. Jane. 

Pope Francis receives “The Hilton Legacy: Serving Humanity Worldwide” from Sr. Jane Wakahiu


Africa Highlight

Sister Led Youth Initiative beneficiaries and their administrators with Foundation staff

In July, the Foundation’s president, Peter Laugharn, visited several grantees in Kenya. The visit began at Strathmore University to learn about the Sister Blended Value Project, which supports sisters to build sustainable social enterprises. Next, the delegation visited the Sister-Led Youth Empowerment Initiative-Kenya (SLYI-Kenya), in which 450 vulnerable youth have received skills training to secure employment or to start businesses. The team also visited the Center for Research in Religious Life and the Apostolate (CERRA-Africa), where sisters presented three longitudinal studies they are conducting on the impact of Foundation investments. The day ended with a dinner attended by the Archbishop of Mombasa (who doubles as president of bishops in Kenya), government officials, Catholic sisters and 64 partners.

The convening demonstrated networks created in Kenya and how more than 8,000 sisters and partners are strengthening cross-sectoral collaboration to build communities of practice.  

Asia Highlight

Hilton Foundation site-visit to Nirmal Jyothi Technical Training Institute in Bangalore

In March, Sr. Jane met with the leaders of the Asian Movement of Women Religious Against Human Trafficking (AMRAT), Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI), Conference of Religious Women in India (CRWI), Sister Doctors Forum of India and Sumanahalli Society on a site visit to Bangalore, India. This visit was a profound learning experience that deepened relationships with current grantees and opened up possibilities for new grantee partners.

In 2023, the Initiative made seven new grants to support human development in India. These investments support sisters’ ministries in addressing the needs of people affected by leprosy, HIV and disabilities; providing vocational training centers for youth; advancing anti-human trafficking efforts; and increasing the capacity of sisters who are also doctors. We are delighted for these incredible partnerships to alleviate human suffering.  


Latin America Highlight

Convening attendees in front of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City

From November 28-30, Initiative staff hosted a convening in Mexico City for grantees based in Latin America. The convening, entitled “Walking Together Toward a Life in Hope,” was conducted in Spanish, thus affirming the Foundation’s commitment to localization and allowing grantees from Latin America to express themselves in their native language. Over 50 participants representing 13 organizations were invited to show how sisters in Latin America have developed networks to address human trafficking, migration, gender-based violence, healthcare and the care of elderly sisters. Senior Program Officer Sr. Hortencia Del Villar led a panel on human migration with sisters who run shelters in Mexico and at the U.S. border.

United States Highlight

Hilton Foundation site-visit with Benedict Center’s Sisters South Collaborative

In September, the US-Latin America team attended the Resource Center for Religious Institutes (RICRI) and Alliance to End Human Trafficking (formerly U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking) conferences and conducted site-visits with grantees in the Chicago area. At the Alliance to End Human Trafficking Conference, president and CEO of FADICA Alexia Kelley and international coordinator of Talitha Kum Sr. Abby Avelino received the 2023 Margaret Nacke Bakhita Award in recognition of their work and partnership to end human trafficking.

Site visits included schools run by the Daughters of Mary Immaculate of Guadalupe. These investments support the significant mental health needs of low-income students living in poverty and violence in Chicago’s south side. The team also met with the Sisters South Collaborative of the Benedict Center to learn more about how they increase the self-sufficiency of women who have been involved in the street-based sex trade, the vast majority of whom are adult survivors of sex trafficking. We were tremendously inspired by the sisters and the people they serve. 

2023 Grant Recipients

  • African Diaspora Network
  • Archdiocese of Los Angeles
  • Association of Major Superiors of Women Religious in Korea
  • Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya Registered Trustees
  • Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans
  • Benedict Center Inc.
  • Canossian Daughters Social Service Society, Akkayyapalem, Visakhapatnam
  • Cardinal Onaiyekan Foundation for Peace
  • Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi Safe-Child Advocacy
  • Christ King Society Tambaram
  • Confederation of Conferences of Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar
  • Conference of Major Superiors of Religious in Ghana
  • Conferencia de Superiores Mayores de Religiosos de México A.R.
  • Congregation of the Apostolic Carmel
  • Corporación Tejiendo Solidaridad
  • Daughters of Charity Foundation
  • Daughters of the Redeemer
  • Dicastery for Communication
  • Fathers of St Edmund Southern Missions, Inc.
  • Federatia Conferinta Romana A Superioarelor Majore
  • Formation Support for Vietnam
  • Francesco Collaborative
  • General Assistance, Inc.
  • General Secretariat of the Synod
  • Georgetown University
  • Good Shepherd Catholic School
  • Health Association of the Sisterhoods of Kenya
  • Institute for Global Engagement
  • Institute on Religious Life Inc
  • International Dominican Foundation
  • Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM) – Hekima College Theological training of sisters in Africa
  • Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM) Bakhita Partnership Project
  • Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities
  • Jose Maria Vilaseca, Civil Association
  • Justice Coalition of Religious
  • Kino Border Initiative, Inc.
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • Mercy Professional Services, Inc.
  • Misioneros del Espiritu Santo Provincia de Mexico
  • Missionary Carmelites of St. Teresa
  • National Archives Project Women Religious
  • Nigeria Conference of Women Religious
  • Pax Christi Fund for Peace
  • Red Rahamim
  • Registered Trustees of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of St. Francis of Assis of the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam in Tan
  • Religious Communities Impact Fund Inc
  • Religious Formation Conference
  • Religious Sisters of the Holy Spirit
  • Sister-Doctors’ Forum of India
  • Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church Limited by Guarantee
  • Society of The Infant Jesus Limited by Guarantee
  • St. Xavier’s Social Service Society, AHMEDABAD
  • Sumana Halli
  • The Conference of Contemplative Communities of Kenya Registered Trustees
  • The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Therese of the Child Jesus Bukoba Catholic Diocese
  • The Registered Trustees of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Kenya
  • The Registered Trustees of the Religious Missionary Congregation of Mary Mother of the Church
  • The Sisters of Immaculate Heart of Mary Reparatrix-GGOGNYA
  • Union des Superieures Majeures
  • Ursuline Franciscan Society
  • World Union Of Catholic Women’s Organisations

Participants in the Latin America grantee convening in Mexico City

May God bless you this holiday season and in the New Year ahead!

Copyright © 2022 Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, All rights reserved.

STOP trafficking newsletter: December edition

 

The STOP Trafficking newsletter is a monthly information resource published by the Alliance to End Human Trafficking. This month’s newsletter focuses on the subject of mining industries, which in parts of the world sees punishing and exploitative working conditions tantamount to slavery, and where child labour is commonplace. But also reported are cases of advocacy and action taken to put a stop to these practices, such as an ongoing class action case taken against several US Silicon Valley companies over the discovery of illegal exploitation in their supply chains.

Read full newsletter below: