2022 Assembly

‘’You have no choice. You are abroad, amongst foreigners.’’ (Survivor of human trafficking).


In 2016, RENATE members and their organisations in a number of European countries including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, participated in a film entitled Made in God’s Image, commissioned by the Conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious and the Slovak Catholic Charity. The film was produced by social and spiritual documentary filmmaker, Iva KúšiKová, ssps, and is available at
The voices of survivors of domestic violence, prostitution, trafficking and exploitation bear a heart-breaking testimony to the traumas experienced at the hands of not only strangers in a foreign country, as instanced in the quotation by a survivor who said ‘’You have no choice. You are abroad, amongst foreigners,’’ but traumas experienced at the hands of those whom they loved and trusted.
The film also bears testimony to hope, as offered through the collaborative efforts of Religious and Lay people, Governmental Offices and NGOs, working to support survivors and raise awareness in order to help in prevention.
Having been trafficked to the UK where he experienced labour exploitation, Peter’s story of rescue and ongoing rehabilitation is a sobering reality for many who simply want to work for a better life, but become ensnared by smugglers and traffickers who offer false promises.   
Respect for the dignity of the human person and the unifying power of Prayer radiates from the clip of Sr. Klara Marie Stráníková, scsc, and Mrs. Hana Kovaříková as we catch a glimpse of their visitation ministry with the women working on the streets in Prague.
It is uplifting to see the ease with which Sr. Silvia Zábavová, cj, communicates with the Roma children in their community at Jarovnice, Slovakia and to hear Sr. Anna Balchan, smi, speak about the house which POMOC has opened in Poland as a shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence, prostitution and trafficking.
An employee of the Slovak National Union for Illegal Migrants, presents Human Trafficking in Slovakia statistics for 2015, stating the Office registered 31 female and 25 male victims of Human Trafficking. Social worker, Mr. Nicolas Ogou shares about his work with victims and survivors of trafficking. Simona, (not her real name) from Slovakia, speaks about the deception experienced at the hands of her family friend who had promised her a job as a waitress and cleaner in Italy but in reality, Simona found herself entrapped in trafficking.
Mr. Jozef Halcin, Director of the Criminality Prevention Department at the Ministry of the Interior for the Slovak Republic, shares statistical data on a national support programme which has helped more than 200 people since its launch in 2008. The Programme recorded 98 victims of sexual exploitation, 55 victims of forced marriage, forced begging and criminality.
Helena Paňková, Director of a Social Centre in Slovakia, shares the sad circumstances of young girls who originally came from foster homes but have fallen into the hands of traffickers. One of the girls says ‘’As foster home children, we listen and trust other people because we don’t know how life looks like.’’ Now showing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD) disorders, these girls are struggling to survive as they try to reconstruct their lives and build trust in others once more. 
Ms. Miroslava Podolakova, a social worker at the Centre caringly teaches the girls life skills such as grocery shopping, cooking and sewing.
Mr. Phil Metzger, Pastor of the Golgotha Centre in Hungary, speaks of his hope to be a catalyst for change, through his Ministry.
Educational awareness- raising presentations are just one of a number of human trafficking prevention initiatives organised by Andrea Bezáková, cj, Ms. Jana Urbanová and Ms. Anna Bartošová, members of Caritas Slovakia’s Stop Human Trafficking project.
Prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications.
2nd March, 2017.