2022 Assembly


Sr Imelda Poole on BBC Heart and Soul


Sr Imelda Poole IBVM

The BBC programme Heart and Soul was in conversation with Sister Imelda Poole IVBM in Albania on Sunday 27th March, about her work over the past 16 years, fighting human trafficking and supporting women and girls caught up in this crime.

Based in Albania, during the pandemic Sr Imelda noticed a new trend in human trafficking as people in poorer regions were struggling to pay their rent due to losing their jobs.

It came in the form of a compromise from their landlord; offer your daughter for sex or to be entered into the sex industry to clear the debt. Many of these girls were very young. Some were left with no choice, others, thankfully were able to make use of emergency Covid funding.

Stories like these are what Sr Imelda and her team at RENATE (Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation) are hearing every day, as they try to do what they can to rescue women from trafficking.

They are at war with the complex, and often vast, trafficking gangs who move women out of countries like Albania into Italy and other parts of Europe. They operate online as much as offline, using the dark web as a marketplace for people.

In this Heart & Soul programme for the BBC World Service, we met Sr. Imelda in Albania to hear how a nun from England ended up doing this work. We will talk to her about how her faith gives her the fire to keep fighting for these women, despite figures showing that the problem of trafficking is only getting worse.

During a recent visit to the Vatican, Sr Imelda met Pope Francis in a bid to highlight the plight of these women and show how the Church can help them.

The journalists for Heart and Soul met some of those who have been rescued and hear their stories. And they say: “We will visit the poorer regions of Albania and hotspots where the gangs operate.

Produced and presented by Colm Flynn for BBC World Service.

Heart and Soul is on Sunday, 27 March, 2022 from 10.30 – 11am GMT.

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