2022 Assembly


Put an End to Modern Slavery, Reflection from 18th October Campaign in Poland


Letter of Support from the First Lady of Poland
Letter of Support from the First Lady of Poland

Sunday 18th October was the day of a Campaign against Human Trafficking*, initiated and organised mainly by the Bakhita Network** in conjunction with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, the Alliance of Mercy Community and people from various other communities.
Several weeks before the event, Sr. Joanna Lipowska FMM together with Paulina Spratek and Justyna Chłodny (the Alliance of Mercy Community) decided to put into words what had been stirring in their hearts for so long: a desire to express their solidarity with the victims of human trafficking, too often voiceless and forgotten. Their goal was to make others aware of the problem and encourage people to go out into the streets and become a voice crying out for dignity and respect of those who are enslaved. All those who decided to join in the campaign – individuals as well as communities – in different towns and cities of Poland, received a booklet containing a set of suggestions, ideas, rules and information to give guidance when organising a similar event.
In Warsaw, the FMM sisters found support and great understanding amongst the Alliance of Mercy Community members. The suggestion to join in with the European Day against Human Trafficking was welcomed with enthusiasm and seen as a mission of sharing mercy with the most needy. Some of those who volunteered felt confident to be part of the street mime, others distributed materials and shared information. There were workshops organised to familiarise the volunteers with the problem of human trafficking and to instruct them on offering possible help to the victims. The whole process required a lot of preparation. Often people attended after a tiring day of work or studies: some for rehearsals, others to learn the art of communicating effectively about prevention; how to handle possible reactions to the problem and source information on where to get help for the victims.
Street Pantomime in Warsaw, 18th October 2015
Street Pantomime in Warsaw, 18th October 2015

The long awaited Sunday came eventually. Despite the weather forecast, the day was not bright and sunny. The Old City of Warsaw looked sad and dull as rain drizzled down. Yet nobody seemed discouraged: instead, we saw it as a sign from the Lord – sadness, fear, cold and tears are often the reality of those suffering as contemporary slaves. So even the weather helped us to feel solidarity with the victims, to sense their world through feeling cold and longing for a ray of sunshine.
At 3 p.m., praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, we entrusted our campaign to the Merciful God. Strengthened with His power, we took to the streets of Warsaw.
Read more: Reflection on 18th October 2015 Campaign in Poland

Report from the Sixth EU Civil Society Platform Meeting in Brussels


9th EU Anti-Trafficking Day Conference, 20 October 2015


EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Persons, 21 October 2015

9th EU Anti-Trafficking Day Conference, 20 October 2015

High Level Conference Marking the 9thEU Anti-Trafficking Day, 18 October

Organised by the European Commission in collaboration with the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of European Union, the conference took place in Brussels on the 20th of October, 2015. The Mary Ward Loreto Foundation was invited to attend as an active participant of the EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings (THB).
The theme, “Time for concrete actions: Implementing the Legal and Policy Framework on Trafficking in Human beings” and  aim of the conference was to develop a policy for the implementation of the EU legal framework and policies addressing trafficking in Human Beings. The Conference marks the EU Anti-Trafficking Day, instituted on 18th of October, 2007 with a view to highlighting the EU common commitment to eradicating trafficking in human persons.
Two important components of the Conference were:
– Introductory Remarks by the Chair, Opening Statements & Keynote Address
– High Level Panel, Interactive Discussion.
Introductory Remarks by the Chair, Opening Statements and Keynote Address
Ms. Myria Vassilidou, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, European Commission,   introduced1 the meeting and welcomed the 200+ participants, the representatives of the EU Parliament, the EU Commissioners, Ministers, Europol, Eurojust and Civil Society. She explained that the main priorities common to the European Union and the European Commission are: “Following the money and reducing demand for trafficking in Human Beings in all forms of exploitation”.
These important issues will be the subject of the two interactive discussions of the honourable panellists listed in the Appendix.  After the introduction Ms. Vassilidou concluded by saying that: “States are strong, and they can protect and defend themselves, but individuals, especially those exploited, are not as strong and it is our duty to protect them.”
(…) Full text available at the end of this post.

The EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings

This event was organized on the 21st of October, 2015, comprising three parallel workshops. The NGO representatives were divided into three groups to discuss a special topic, after which they presented and shared their thoughts on the issue to the collective audience.
Workshop 1. Children as high risk group of trafficking
The members of this group focused mainly on unaccompanied children as well as on the child refugee crisis. The group shared their concerns for the fake ‘adoption’ of children and for children involved in forced labour and domestic servitude. Another concern highlighted by this group was the recruitment of children in armed conflicts and child trafficking for exploitation in forced criminal activities.
Worksop 2. Emerging Concerns
The second group focused on the current Syrian refugee crisis, which is leading to an increased risk of people being exploited and trafficked. They recommended a greater awareness about this issue and called on more people to become involved in preventing exploitation at a national level, when the refugees are being assisted in transitory or residential camps.
Also another emerging concern raised by this group was the sham of forced marriages which leads to different forms of exploitation, especially in domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.
Workshop 3. Prevention of trafficking in Human Beings
The third group focused on demand, reduction and prevention initiatives. The MWL Youth Manager was a member of this group and made a presentation at the group session.
They [who?] The group commenced by reflecting upon Article 18.48 of the EU Directive: “Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims.” This article criminalises the use of services by each citizen who knows that the person who offers the services is a victim of trafficking. In this context ‘’following the buyers’’ was thought as a prevention initiative which would lead to identifying the victims. While the conviction of buyers can reduce demand, it is very difficult to prove that the buyer is aware that he/she is purchasing services from a victim of trafficking. It was felt that the key to success is to work locally in order to change the mentality of our governments and our judiciary and then start lobbying at a European level.
Another suggested action regarding prevention was to ensure that there is a legal requirement for businesses to state publicly their policy against Trafficking in Human Beings and show that their supply chain is free from exploitation.
At the end of the group session, it was decided to discuss the topics relating to each form of exploitation and to identify concrete ideas to be implemented to prevent trafficking. The group was subdivided into smaller groups who will continue to work on it by means of the e-Platform.
Outcomes of the Event   
It was both a good opportunity and experience to attend these very important meetings. It has been a meaningful exchange on best practices. It was so positive to participate and contribute to meetings where the highest institutions of the EU commit to eradicating trafficking in human beings.
Ten contacts were established and more than thirty MWL leaflets were distributed in the Market Place.

Prepared by Gazmir Memaj, Project Manager, Mary Ward Loreto Youth

Full text available here: Report from the Sixth Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform Against Trafficking in Human Beings, October 2015

Ending Modern Slavery: Everyone Has a Role and Everyone Can Help Prevention


18.10.2015 in AlbaniaOn the European Day Against Human Trafficking, October 18th, activities took place with the MWL Women’s groups, in Tropoja, Hot i Ri, Kallmet, Fier, and Shendelli. Men joined the activities as well, joining in with their role in prevention and combating Modern Day Slavery.
These activities consisted of awareness raising on the phenomena of human trafficking, training on identification of potential victims, how to avoid risk, prayers for the victims and round table discussions. The national helpline number for reporting potential human trafficking cases was distributed to many as part of the campaigns. The 128 participants realised the necessity to learn more about this phenomena which puts the safety of their children at risk.
An emphasis was put on the Modern Day Slavery concept in order to have a better understanding of trafficking in persons. A video of statistics around Europe was shown to give a general idea on the phenomena. Three scenarios/stories of trafficked victims were shared with the students in Kallmet, who were divided into three groups. Various opinions and thoughts were shared by the participants, who were all very active. Through the stories it became clear who are the possible traffickers and who are the possible victims and how to assist the trafficked victims.
Young women in the groups were encouraged to be positive and to express themselves in this social atmosphere. They learned new ways of being successful in their lives which are full of challenges. They engaged themselves in the meetings, shared and exchanged details of school life which could put them at risk.
Round table discussions and powerful stories were shared during the meeting conducted at Mary Ward Loreto Centre in the small village of Shendelli. Through emotional speeches and tears sometimes, they committed themselves to fight Modern Day Slavery, to be saviors and not victims, through raising awareness in their families and community. They shared their challenges and highlighted the power of maternal energy that gives them the strength to protect their families.
In the end of the meeting in Shendelli, everyone felt free to light a candle and make a prayer at the small church of the village, as a symbol of Saving Victims and being a light for their support!
The young women of Tropoja decided to pray and light candles at the Saint Anthony Church in Laç, which is known in Albania as a special place of pilgrimage. All were dressed in white to show their solidarity for the victims of human trafficking.
Women and men in Fier joined in prayers in the church of Fier and lit candles. After the Mass, they came with the need to learn more about Modern Day Slavery, and a meeting took place with the women.
Prepared by the Key Workers of MWL Women

Reflection on Events in Croatia Organised on the 18th of October 2015


18th October 2015, European Anti-Human Trafficking Day
On the occasion of the European Anti-Human Trafficking Day, our informal Anti-Human Trafficking Network, established during the implementation of the project Raising Awareness of Religious Communities in Croatia of the Issue of Human Trafficking (especially Women)”, participated in a one-day conference in Slovenia. In addition to the one-day Conference, Prayer initiatives and activities were organised in Zagreb.

Figure 1. Sr. Ljubica, Sr. Stanka, Anita and Ana in Slovenia
Figure 1. Sr. Ljubica, Sr. Stanka, Anita and Ana in Slovenia

Four women members of the Network participated in the second day of a Conference focused on the issues of modern slavery and  law enforcement, organised by the Medaille Trust, a UK Charity, from the 12th to the 16th of October, 2015.
At the Conference, opportunities to hear about the difficulties faced by institutions and organisations involved in this issue were heard, as well as efforts and successes achieved. Sr. Stanka had the opportunity to speak about the situation in Croatia and to present her Project and Network. She reports “My colleagues and I were surprised and inspired by the positive atmosphere at the Conference, in spite of it being a difficult topic and subject matter.”
Figure 2. Ana, Sr. Stanka, Jitka and Young People from Croatian Red Cross at the Flower Square in Zagreb
Figure 2. Ana, Sr. Stanka, Jitka and Young People from Croatian Red Cross at the Flower Square in Zagreb

“On Saturday 17th October 2015, at the Flower Square in the Centre of Zagreb, Ms. Ana Sekelj and I from the Network, together with representatives from the Office for Human Rights and National Minorities of the Croatian Government, the Ministry of the Interior, a network of non-governmental organizations PETRA, Croatian Red Cross and the City Red Cross Society, presented our work, commitment, initiatives, brochures and symbolic items. Through this joint display, we informed the citizens of Zagreb on the issue of human trafficking. You can see and hear all about it by logging on to the National Croatian Radio and Television.” [34:00 – 36:15]
Figure 3. St. Blaise Parish in Zagreb
Figure 3. St. Blaise Parish in Zagreb

Sr. Stanka says “On Sunday 18th October 2015, in the convent of my Congregation, the Sisters of Notre Dame, we had a Prayer Service at noon for all the victims of modern slavery.
In the evening, in the Parish of St. Blaise, from 19:30-22:00, together with the pro-life prayer movement “Consolers of Merciful Jesus”, we organized a prayer vigil and adoration for all victims of modern slavery, for the unborn children and for every human life. The text of the prayer vigil will be broadcasted on radio station Radio Maria, at 20:00 on the first Friday in the November (6th November), so believers throughout Croatia can join in this prayer initiative. We believe that prayer-support is the strongest and most powerful mean of combating trafficking in human beings. We also believe that God is the only one who first hears the cry of all the victims and who helps all institutions and individuals who are committed to heal the deepest wounds in humanity.”
Sr. Stanka Oršolić
Article edited by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

Let’s Open our Ears to their Cries and Respond, Stop Human Trafficking


The Holy Father’s Universal Prayer Intention for October is “that Human Trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated”. With Pope Francis’ intention to guide us, the RENATE campaign of activities and events to mark the 18th of October, is presented in the following overview: 18th October 2015_stories and actions from RENATE Network
You will see from the wide variety of activities throughout the RENATE Network that there are actions to suit every capacity. Join us in our endeavours to stop Human Trafficking.
Each and every effort, will make a big difference to those in need.
Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person