2022 Assembly


Report from ANDANTE GA: Sharing Life – Working Together – Building Strength


ANDANTE (European Alliance of Catholic Women’s Organisations) is an umbrella organisation supporting member organisations to be powerful and credible players defending women´s rights as human rights. Additionally, ANDANTE links Catholic women´s organisations with sources of knowledge and information and offers a platform for reflection and exchange.
Fifty five members from 19 organisations and 13 countries gathered at the Conference Centre High Leigh in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, UK to attend the ANDANTE General Assembly with the theme “Sharing Life – Working Together – Building Strength”. The focus was on the future of ANDANTE, its vision, challenges and possibilities.
The General Assembly consisted of two parts: (i) Study Days and (ii) Statutory Assembly, followed by a social event arranged for each evening.
Full report available here: Report from ANDANTE General Assembly, 14-17 April 2016 by Sr. Stanka Oršolić, DSNG

World Day of Social Justice, 2016


“A Just Transition-Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies”
‘Time to share the wealth’; ‘New Economics’; ’Promoting environmentally sustainable economies and societies’; ’Bring people in from the margins’. These are just some of the statements that have been shared across the globe in recent days in honour of the World Day for Social Justice, 20th of February, 2016. International bodies such as the UN and the ILO (International Labour Office), Trade Unions and campaign groups took the opportunity to renew their calls for Social Justice to be prioritised by all governments and for a more equitable distribution of the world’s wealth, power and resources.
Increased armed conflicts around the globe and ensuing displacement of peoples, rising unemployment and growing levels of poverty continue to drive vulnerable women, men and children into the path of people smugglers and human traffickers as they try to pursue a better life for themselves and their families, usually in countries where they think the benefits of economic growth are available to all.
A new film The Divide (, which will premier in the UK in April, explores why and how the gap between the richest 1% in the world, continues to widen and what might possibly be done in order to end this trend. The film tells the story of seven individuals searching for a better life in modern day US and UK.
“The Divide creates a lyrical, psychological and tragi-comic picture of how economic division creates social division. It serves as both a call to arms, and a powerful waning. The film is inspired by the critically acclaimed, bestselling book, The Spirit Level, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.” (The Spirit Level documentary)
Social Justice is an issue at the heart of RENATE’s ministry, in reaching out to the victims of human trafficking and exploitation, across Europe.
For more information, please see the “Social Justice in the EU Index Report 2015” at Bertelsmann.
Prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

Biennial Meeting of the COATNET Affiliates in France, 9-11 November 2015


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

Biennial Meeting of the COATNET Affiliates, November 2015
Biennial Meeting of the COATNET Affiliates, November 2015

Main objectives of the meeting:
– Finalise and adopt the strategic plan for 2016-2020.
– Discuss possible ways for evaluating the Network.
– Plan the 2016 Anti-Trafficking Conference in Africa.
– Promote networking and sharing of experiences among the participants, including the use of Baobab.
– Empower affiliates in advocating at national and international level and in existing human rights mechanisms.
– Present the topic ‘’Human trafficking in conflict situations’’ and discuss further action.
This was an international meeting of a global network against Human Trafficking, which took place in Paris from the 9th-11th of November, 2015. Fifty five people were present from thirty three countries worldwide. Members represented the following:

  • Caritas Internationalis
  • National Caritas (Albania, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, India, Kenya, Kongo, Kosovo, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey)
  • USCCB (United States Council of Catholic Bishops)
  • Anglican Alliance
  • Papa Giovanni XXIII Community (Italy and Belgium)
  • CCEM (Comité Contre l’Esclavage Moderne) NGO
  • Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.
  • Medaille Trust, UK
  • IOM (International Organization for Migration)
  • Mary Ward Loreto Foundation

The first two days included inputs from panel and work in groups.
The third day covered the presentation of the group’s work; training on the use of the members’ e-platform called Baobab; the election of the Steering Group and the closing remarks.
Full text available here: Report from the Biennial Meeting of the COATNET Affiliates, France, November 2015

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

Report on a Work Trip from Bratislava to Uzhgorod and Lviv in the Ukraine


Sr Bohdana Bezáková travelled to Lviv, for a meeting with Sr Valentyna Ryabushko, secretary to the Conference of Female Religious Superiors of the Greek Catholic Church in the Ukraine, 22 September, 2015. In total, her journey took 8 hours!
In Lviv, Bohdana gave a presentation on human trafficking to the members of the male and female religious institutes of the Greek Catholic Church. She also provided information on the RENATE network and the various initiatives undertaken in the areas of prevention and supports to victims of human trafficking.

Meeting with Church representatives in the Ukraine, 22-26 September 2015
Meeting with Church representatives in the Ukraine,         22nd-26th September 2015

Of particular importance was the time spent in conversation regarding the possibilities of a delegate becoming a member of RENATE from the Conference of Female Religious Superiors (KVPŽR) and Conference of Religious Superiors (KVRP) of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, Bohdana also had the opportunity to meet with a psychologist, Oleksandra Yakymets, who provides courses aimed at trauma therapy in Ukraine, particularly provided to victims of trafficking who have returned to Ukraine and join the reintegration programme.
For her it was particularly valuable to spend time in meetings and negotiations with the Secretary of KVRP of the Greek Catholic Church which involved planning specific steps to implement prevention and awareness-raising activities in collaboration with RENATE and Caritas Slovakia. Bohdana also enjoyed meeting with activists in the parish and volunteers working in the children’s home who are implementing prevention programmes at school dormitories and children´s homes in Ukraine.
Sr Valentyna Ryabushko, RSM and Sr Bohdana Bezáková, CJ
          Sr Valentyna Ryabushko, RSM           and Sr Bohdana Bezáková, CJ

Click here to read more about the outcomes following the visit and meeting in Ukraine: Report on a Work Trip from Bratislava to Uzhgorod and Lviv in the Ukraine

Compiled by Bohdana Bezáková, CJ
Adapted and prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

Report from RENATE Training in Romania 2nd – 7th November 2014


A week-long training programme on Labour Trafficking & Migration took place in Romania from 2nd to 7th November 2014, funded by the RENATE sponsors.
This was part of RENATE’s ongoing commitment to research, skills and information-sharing throughout the Network, in support of its vision to work to end Human Trafficking and exploitation.
Forty members of RENATE – religious and their co-workers – gathered at the Carmelite Monastery Conference and Retreat Centre, Snagov, near Bucharest to learn about the issue as well as to reflect and strengthen the bonds that support the Network.
Sr. Imelda Poole, President of RENATE presented an image of the Nautilus during her introductory remarks, as a comparable example of how RENATE continues to evolve. Just as the Nautilus continues to grow by means of growing a new shell on the back of previous shells, so too does RENATE develop. Deepening, evolving and building upon the foundations and previous work of others.
A comprehensive programme was prepared, covering the following;

  1. Migration & Forced Labour across Europe.
  2. Labour Exploitation/ Trafficking for Forced labour.
  3. Profile of Victims of Trafficking; E.U. Estimated Figures and Statistics.
  4. Identification of Victims of Trafficking- Formal & Informal; Pro-active Identification.
  5. Trans-national Mechanisms of Identification & Referral; Exchange of Sensitive Information.
  6. Social Inclusion & Re-integration of Victims of Trafficking; Personalised Care Intervention.
  7. Victims of Trafficking / Witness co-ordination programme.
  8. Multi-disciplinary and Multi-agency Co-operation.
  9. Prevention Initiatives.
  10. Trafficking for Forced Labour with a Focus on Identification, Referral, Protection & Assistance provided to Victims of Trafficking; Co-operation.
  11. Meeting with Victims of Trafficking at the Reaching Out shelter.

In addition to training in the above areas, stimulating learning took place at the hour-long ‘Market Place’ meetings each evening. Each ‘Market station’ provided opportunities for members to share resources, skills and knowledge of work at local level with each other. This time meant that best practices were shared in work done to combat human trafficking and care for victims.

The specific presentations provided by the trainers, are accessible on the members area of the RENATE website, with the substance of the training and interactions forming the body of the Report.
Mass was celebrated at the start of each day. The Liturgy was prepared by Sr. Gabriela Korn.
Daily Theological Reflections, available on the Members’ area of the RENATE website, were led by Sr. Juliet Ory.
For the Reaching Out Shelter, the members travelled to meet with Mrs. Jana Matei, Director of the programme. Along with a ‘cultural’ tour of Bucharest, this was one of the special highlights of the training programme. Members met Mrs. Jana Matei and young women victims of trafficking who are being re-habilitated at the ‘shelter.’  Mrs. Matei’s commitment and care for these young women is striking. Clearly, her positive encouragement and support of them has empowering impact as they are gradually finding their confidence and recovering their self-esteem.

Each working day commenced with Theological Reflections, prepared by Sr. Juliet Ory. This focus for the work of RENATE followed the methodology of ‘The Pastoral Cycle.’ Through these reflections, members were invited to “… bring a faith perspective to the realities we look at in order to work for social justice.” (Rev. Fr. James Hug, SJ) Members reflected on the perennial questions “What are we doing?” and “What more can we do for systemic justice for victims of human trafficking?”
Specific presentations, provided by the trainers, are accessible on the Members’ area of the RENATE website, a general overview follows.
Read more here:
Report on RENATE Training in Romania_1st December 2014_website