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2022 Assembly

 

RENATE at the Sisters Annual Trafficking Awards 2024

 

On 23 May 2024, the second annual SATA awards event (Sisters’ Anti–Trafficking Awards) took place at the Augustinianum, in Rome, following the conclusion of the 2nd General Assembly of Talitha Kum, which began 18 May last.

Sr. Mary Barron, OLA, newly appointed UISG President and Ms. Delia Gallagher, Vatican journalist and moderator of the ceremony, welcomed all present.

Sr. Nathalie Becquart, xmcj, Under-Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, delivered the keynote speech.

In her address, Sr. Nathalie highlighted the characteristics of sisters’ work, which reflect perfectly the synodal path.

The following three guest speakers briefly shared about their work to combat human trafficking: Mary Mugo, an Anti-Trafficking Youth Ambassador from Kenya; Nasreen Sheikh, a widely-respected advocate for survivors, and Kevin Hyland, the former first UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of awards to three religious sisters who have demonstrated exceptional courage, creativity, collaboration and achievement in the protection of their communities from human trafficking, namely:

  1. Sr. Grasy Luisa Rodrigues FDCC from India received the Common Good Award from the Arise Founding President, John Studzinski CBE.
  2. Sr Anne Victory HM from the USA & The Alliance to End Human Trafficking, received the Servant Leadership Award from the #UISG President, Sr. Mary Barron, OLA.
  3. Sr. Marie Claude Naddaf RGS from Lebanon received the Human Dignity Award, announced by Associate Vice President of Program Operations at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Sr. Jane Wakahiu, LSOSF, Ph.D.

As part of the ceremony, short video recordings gave glimpses of each recipient’s mission. And in the coming days, the UISG will share documentaries showcasing the important work of each laureate.

Photo credits: Stefano Dal Pozzolo

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Arise

#SATAs2024

RENATE MEMBER BRIAN O’TOOLE’S REFLECTIONS ON ATTENDING SATA AWARDS

On Thursday May 23rd last, I was privileged to attend the SATA  Awards in the Augustinianum in Rome with a gathered audience of approximately 200, and far more attending online. The names of the three laureates were being kept as a closely guarded secret. We had been informed that the three had been selected from a list of over 120 nominations from around the world. The event was organised by Arise Foundation, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the UISG and the prizes awarded were not insignificant either. Apart from the symbolic trophy and the beautifully crafted scarf, there was the matter of the $20,000 that was offered to each of the winners to put to their own work against Human Trafficking. 

Mary Mugo, an anti-trafficking youth ambassador, spoke first and told us that “you can order a woman quicker than you can order a pizza”, as she urged us all to become the change we want to see in the world.  Nasreen Sheikh, a widely respected advocate for survivors spoke from lived experience, offering a hope that, “survivors have a vision, a solution, for their most prized gift, the next generation.” Her strong words echoed and resonated loudly in this hallowed chamber, “This, (MSHT) is a genocide embedded in our economic system.  MSHT is a moral pain in every facet of our world.” She then implored all who gathered: “Let us ensure that in our collective future, that each child has the chance to emerge as a wonder for all.” 

Kevin Hyland, OBE and author of SDG 8.7, explained that many of the Sisters have been deeply involved in combating MSHT and indeed many have been involved for centuries. He articulated the work of the Sisters so well when he said that “lives can be changed, and dignity restored, when families are rescued.” Kevin, gave a uniquely practical example of the power of the networking capabilities of the Sisters when he was facing a court without a witness. The Sisters were able to solve this issue, where others would have definitely failed. “Their, (the Sisters) work on the ground and at the frontline is unmatched.” And Kevin left us with a very real final word, “When I get to go home I go to a place of safety but when the sisters go home it may well be to a place where there is no safety.” 

Sr. Grasy Luisa Rodrigues FDCC from India received the Common Good Award for her unstinting courage in the face of real threat when rescuing girls from the grips of criminals. Her work is described as “inspiring work of the Holy Spirit which is transformational.”  Like all the other recipients, Sr Grasy explained that “I cannot do it alone! I need God and others in my community. We are working together to reply to the call which God has given us. Friends, I am unworthy of the awards bestowed upon me, but it reflects the efforts of so many who collaborate in our Mission. We see and value the inherent dignity of all human beings. St. Josephine Bakhita, our universal Sister… it is your turn now to work for victims of human trafficking.”

The Servant Leadership Award was presented to Sr. Anne Victory HM from the USA.
Sr. Anne built networks with a vision, championing best resources with courage in abundance and reminded us that in our everyday lives we are touched by MSHT, but that we must be alert and notice this to be able to make a collective response to combat all forms of MSHT. 

The Human Dignity Award, went to Sr. Marie Claude Naddaf RGS from Lebanon and this got a really loud cheer (there was even a whistle!) from the auditorium as we at the Talitha Kum Assembly had the privilege of working during the week with Sr. Marie Claude who made regular interventions and comments during our gathering. Sr. Marie Claude is so small in stature that when she stood behind the podium to accept her award, she just couldn’t be seen. The irony was not lost on the audience either, who could recognise a huge contribution that was spearheaded by such a petite Sister. 

Sr. Grasy Luisa Rodrigues FDCC from India, Sr. Marie Claude Naddaf RGS from Lebanon, Sr Anne Victory HM from the USA with Sr. Jane Wakahiu, LSOSF, Ph.D Associate Vice President of Program Operations at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. (Credit UISG for this photo)

Each of the Sisters were shown a short video of their work, specially prepared for this event, which was shown to all who attended. The overriding message that came from these awards is that there are so many heroes and advocates who have shown us the power of being present with those furthest behind as they reminded us that in order to be of help we must reach those furthest behind first, underpinning the SDGs principle of leaving no one behind. 

At my own table, I heard a throwaway remark that I followed up later when a Sister explained that she was challenged by a criminal when she found that he had “stolen” a child to be trafficked into “sex work”. She searched him out and found him and demanded that he hand over the girl. She involved the police, who helped up to a point. Corruption allows the trafficker to continue with a certain degree of impunity. This trafficker threatened her life and the lives of her family, but she persisted and won out to save the girl from the most difficult of futures. This Sister still speaks occasionally to the Trafficker as such engagement can lead to change which is what she wants despite the fear he can and does from time to time still instil. I would have happily given her an award for this quiet but hugely important service but she shrugs it off. 

The SATA awards are a beacon, a light that shines on perhaps the most insidious of crimes taking the side of those most affected. For each victim of Human Trafficking there is a significant and impactful hurt that lives on in the next generation and the generation after that. We heard but a few stories of bravery, witness, accompaniment, presence, courage and resolve. There are so many, many more, thanks be to God.  

Brian O’ Toole

Sr. Marie Claude Naddaf RGS from Lebanon (Credit UISG for this photo)