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2022 Assembly

 

On the Journey of Hope, HT from a Global to the Local Perspective

 

The Croatian Catholic Radio Station, in the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) greatly assisted in raising awareness about Human Trafficking through its recently recorded programme entitled “On the Journey of Hope”, which featured a number of guests, including RENATE member Sr. Stanka Oršolić, Croatian Red Cross worker, Ms. Nives Vudrić and Mrs. Djurdjica Kolarec, President of the Centre for Women in the War (ROSA), Co-Ordinator of the PETRA Network and member of the European Union Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings.
Ms. Vudrić spoke of the challenges being faced in the Croatian temporary reception centres for refugees where staff are trying to identify victims of human trafficking. She also spoke of the sufferings endured by the migrants at the hands of migrant smuggling rings on the migrant routes.
Mrs. Kolarec spoke about her experiences over the last twenty years, providing assistance and legal aid to the victims of human trafficking. Of particular note was the increased use of the SOS Hotline in Croatia, for which Mrs. Kolarec is responsible.
The work of RENATE in awareness-raising and support of the victims of human trafficking was interspersed throughout the programme by Sr. Stanka, who spoke at length about RENATE.
It is hoped that more people will be encouraged to take action against human trafficking and that more victims will access the Hotline as a result of this public broadcast.
Tune in to www.hkr.hr where you can hear the full broadcast (archive: Na putu nade, 17th February 2016).
 
Adapted by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

Press Conference in Croatia for the World Day of Consecrated Life, 2 February 2016

 

Photo 1In honour of the World Day for Consecrated Life, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), Croatia, held a Press Conference where the continuing refugee crisis and the importance of pastoral care of the Roma people was discussed.
Inspired by the evangelical values of Community Spirit; Acceptance and Solidarity, the JRS has been involved in providing help to asylum seekers, displaced people, migrants and refugees on the transit routes through Europe.
To date, more than 700,000 refugees have journeyed through Croatia since 2015.
Ms Jelena Firić, responsible for the JRS Legal affairs, delivered a presentation on the significant role and contributions of the JRS, which range from advocacy in public debates, the provision of legal assistance through to all forms of direct support in the camps and reception and detention centres for refugees and asylum seekers. The provision of several square metres of space specifically for the JRS within the camps has been especially helpful in providing a tranquil space in the midst of the chaos of the camps.
Photo 2Mrs Martina Prokl Predragović, JRS Communications Person, read two powerful testimonies from male and female refugees, who spoke about their exile, concerns and hope for better life in the future. Mrs. Predragović stressed the importance of social media giving adequate space to these issues. This would greatly assist in awareness-raising and the finding of humane solutions to the crisis, in direct contrast to the repression of the situation which is occurring in the Near East.
Sr. Stanka Oršolić, volunteer with the JRS, spoke about her experiences volunteering in the refugee camps. She explained the connection between the refugee crisis and human trafficking, citing the shocking fact of the disappearance of 10,000 children along the migrant routes. As has been evident at bus and train stations in Italy, Budapest and elsewhere, many minors have been left alone, having lost family or friends along the routes. These minors are particularly vulnerable to human traffickers and smugglers. Sr. Stanka highlighted the problem of the vulnerability of migrants and refugees to human smugglers, who have vast networks amongst themselves and exact enormous amounts of money from the migrants and refugees. Furthermore, Sr. Stanka explained the challenges faced by the relevant institutions in trying to identify the victims. It becomes more difficult because of the transitory nature of the migrants and refugees, who are retained only briefly in any camp.
Photo 3Sr. Karolina Miljak also spoke of her 40 years’ experience working with the Roma population in Croatia, who too are marginalised. She provides pastoral care and assists in their integration into Croatian society.
Sr. Miroslava Bradica, Vice President of the Croatian Conference of the Major Male and Female Religious Superiors, spoke about the activities of the female and male religious in Croatia during the Year of Consecrated Life.
Sr. Bradica concluded the conference by expressing her gratitude and support to the speakers for all their work. She thanked the journalists and all those who attended the conference.
Sr. Stanka Oršolić
 
Adapted by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

Reflection from a Refugee Camp in Dobova, Slovenia

 

Over the Christmas period of 2015, RENATE member, Bohdana Bezáková, CJ, worked as a volunteer, helping refugees on the Croatian-Slovenian border at the railway station in Dobova town. Because most people preferred to spend Christmas with their families, there was a shortage of people willing to help refugees. Bohdana shares her thoughts and experiences in the following article, where she writes about the challenge as a religious sister, to live a ‘real’ Christmas and assist the ‘fleeing Holy Family’.
Reflection from a Refugee Camp in Dobova, Slovenia by Sr. Andrea Bezáková
 
Prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

KANA Journal, Sr. Stanka Oršolić Interviewed about Modern Day Slavery

 

In an interview with Izidora Franić for the Croatian Family Magazine KANA and published in December 2015, Sr. Stanka Oršolić responds to a number of questions about modern day slavery, the work being done by religious throughout Europe to eradicate human trafficking and exploitation and the importance of bearing witness to Gospel values as we minister to others more needy than ourselves.
Full text in Croatian available here: Sr. Stanka Oršolić_Interview for Kana Journal, December 2015_HR
For English translation click here: Sr. Stanka Oršolić_Interview for Kana Journal, December 2015_ENG
 
Prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

Christmas on the Croatian-Slovenian Border, at one of the Camps for Refugees

 

Andrea Bezáková (Bohdana) RENATE member, spent her Christmas volunteering with others at the refugee camp in Dobova, on the Croatian-Slovenian border, approximately 18 km from the town of Zaprešić, Croatia. She sent the following account of her experiences, from the 23rd to the 30th of December, 2015.
“It is very powerful here! Everynight, two thousand refugees arrive by train, mainly children and pregnant women. All are exhausted from travelling. Without access to life’s necessities, it has been a month or more since some of them had a shower. At the camp, everything is well organised, with good use being made of the funding allocated by Germany to assist the refugees in camps.
At night it was freezing. People had to queue for three hours twice; once to register at the police station and twice, to register in the camp. People are disciplined. The majority are coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Many are well educated and include professional doctors, pharmacists, economists, electrical engineers and architects. The younger ones can speak English. Although the camp is just provisional and not the most comfortable, the refugees get what they need.
Many organisations work together here. It is necessary to pray for them. It is a very hard situation, knowing what the refugees had to go through. Some of them need medical help, especially the children.
I am glad to be here at the camp, especially at Christmas time as for me, this is a very authentic witness of Christmas and is an emotionally very strong experience. We are preparing food packets to help build up people’s strength and we distribute blankets, as most are not accustomed to the frost and freezing temperatures.
It has been a blessed Christmas!
Bohdana”
 
Adapted and amended by Anne Kelleher, Communications Person

Sr. Viktorija Šimić Takes a Proactive Lead in Raising Awareness of HT in Croatia

 

Sr. Viktorija invited the Archbishop of her Diocese, Đuro Hranić, to write a letter to all the parish priests in the Diocese, informing them of her work in prevention and awareness-raising about Human Trafficking. The Archbishop positively responded to her offer of being available to visit each of their parishes where she could give a presentation on human trafficking and lead the adoration afterwards, in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
In his communication to all the parish priests, the Archbishop referred to Sr. Viktorija’s congregation and her membership of RENATE. He wrote of her excellent work in having already visited 10 parishes in the Diocese, where she informed the congregations about trafficking in human beings and led the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament afterwards.
To further emphasise the importance of this work, most of content of the Archbishop’s letter to the parish priests has been posted to the website of IKA (Catholic Press Agency, http://www.ika.hr/). The Archbishop has also spoken about the subject when interviewed by the Croatian Catholic Radio.
In light of her parish visitations, the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross Congregation in Croatia (approx. 350 Sisters) have invited Viktorija to share her knowledge and information with them and to lead them in prayer and reflection. Thus, over the period of the congregation’s Annual Retreat, Sr. Viktorija will present her two-hour programme to groups of 30-50 sisters, in afternoons and evenings of the Retreat. Following the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament where the Sisters will offer prayers for the prevention of Human Trafficking, there will be a screening of the film “Ballerina”.
RENATE wish to thank Sr. Viktorija for sharing her story and taking initiative to be proactive in raising the issue of human trafficking. RENATE wishes her, every blessing in her ministry, which is inspirational.
 
Adapted and amended by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

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.” http://www.hrt.hr/enz/dnevnik/303627/ [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