This launching event began with a focus on the promotional banners of the campaign, 2016. The next moment the lights went off and a victim of violence appeared on the scene, sitting in a chair, with her back turned away from us. She started to tell her story with a faint voice initially… sometimes she had to stop as her horrible memories of being beaten, malnourished, made to feel worthless, and losing her baby as a consequence of this violence, was still haunting her. It seemed as there were no real words to express the deep pain she had to endure. But her voice become instantly more powerful as she said “Do not stay in Violence, ask for help!’’. She gave this message and a call to her fellow sisters, who might be suffering as she did.
Please click here to read the report: “I choose to live without violence!”
What is the UN GIFT Box
The UN GIFT Box campaign is an anti-human trafficking campaign that uses public art to raise awareness about human trafficking and its victims. UN GIFT Boxes are large boxes (about 2 meters on a side and 2 meters tall). On the outside, the box looks like a present and includes phrases and ideas commonly used by traffickers to recruit victims. On the inside the walls of the box are decorated with the true stories of trafficking victims and information about how visitors can help combat human trafficking.
The United Response Against Trafficking, (URAT), network in Albania identified the UN GIFT Box as a potential project in December 2015. From January to June members of the network worked to get the GIFT Box funded and constructed. Construction of the GIFT Box was coordinated with Stop the Traffik in the United Kingdom. Stop the Traffik owns the rights to the GIFT Box and has the right to approve design and content decisions for all GIFT Boxes constructed around the world. URAT coordinated design, construction and content decisions with Stop the Traffik over the course of 6 months from January to June 2016. During this period, Stop the Traffik had all the required legal documents translated into Albanian so they could be signed by Mary Ward Loreto Foundation.
During this period, Mary Ward Loreto Foundation, as a member of the URAT Network raised money to cover construction costs and identified cities that could host the GIFT Box during summer and fall. Because of budget constraints only four cities (Durres, Saranda, Tirana, and Shkoder) were selected based on their strategic geographic location. Saranda and Durres have beautiful beaches and therefor they are tourist areas and hot spots for Human Trafficking, Tirana is the capital of Albania where half of the national population lives and Shkodra is one of the hot spots of Human Trafficking in Northern Albania known for traffickers as well as for victims. Once the cities and dates were identified URAT worked with the Ministry of the Interior and local authorities to identify locations where the box could be displayed, facilities that could be used for training, and the type of security that would be provided for the box. Please click here to read the full report…
This report illustrates, with many different forms of graphics and words, the work, the breadth of vision, the focus and the action of Mary Ward Loreto Foundation, from October 2015 until September 2016. At the heart of this work is the goal to reduce the number of trafficked victims and to bring justice to the perpetrators through the work of systemic change and grass roots action. MWL has used modern means of communication, and has ensured best practice from MWL staff and partners, using correct procedures and hospitality for all of the work. MWL has shown respect and gratitude for our visitors, both cross border and in country in the development of the net-working process. Everything has been under-pinned with ethical finance accountability. The breadth of the work is seen clearly and includes work across borders, nationalities, faith traditions or none, embassies, NGOs, statutory systems, the ministry and the government, here in Albania and Internationally. The focus is the prevention of human trafficking in Albania, the rescue and reintegration work of the victims of trafficking, raising awareness against trafficking and finally campaigning, advocacy and lobbying against this heinous crime. Please click here to read the MWL Annual Report October 2015 – September 2016
Mary Ward Loreto: Open and Ready for mission!
RENATE (Religious in Europe Networking against Trafficking and Exploitation) has welcomed 130 members from 27 countries to Rome for their second European Assembly (6-12 November) where they are reflecting, learning, dialoguing and sharing best practices in their work to combat human trafficking and exploitation.
Sr Denise writes: ’The highlight of day one of the RENATE Assembly (Religious of Europe Network Against Trafficking and Exploitation) was the private audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican. All the participants boarded the coaches with great excitement and anticipation. After a circuitous route to St. Peter’s that included security checks we walked through the bronze door into the Vatican. It was almost surreal waiting in the enormous corridor beyond this, watching the Swiss guards go through their routine and knowing that very soon we would meet Pope Francis.
Finally we were walking up what seemed like endless flights of marble stairs and into the papal audience room. The Clementine is a magnificent room with a beautiful high painted ceiling. A hush descended just before Pope Francis entered, followed by a burst of applause and an enthusiastic waving of national flags. Smiling almost shyly the Pope acknowledged our greeting as he made his way to a very simple throne like chair, centred on a red dais at the front of the room.
Imelda Poole IBVM, the President of RENATE thanked Pope Francis on behalf of the organisation, citing specific ways in which he has raised awareness of human trafficking, especially the suffering of those caught up in it. She went on to say that Francis has offered tremendous support for all those working to eliminate trafficking and who support and work with survivors. The Pope listened attentively and when Imelda finished speaking he jumped up and came down to greet her warmly.
In his response Francis began by offering ‘prayerful good wishes for the fruitfulness of these days of prayer, reflection and discussion.’ Reminding us that our Assembly was taking place during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, he spoke of the invitation to ‘enter more deeply into the mystery of God’s mercy and like the Good Samaritan, to bring the balm of that mercy to so many open wounds in our world. Pope Francis believes that among the most troubling of these open wounds is the trade in modern forms of slavery.
Acknowledging that much has been accomplished, Francis said that one of the challenges we face is indifference and even complicity plus a tendency by many to look the other way, because powerful networks of crime are involved. Francis thanked us for our ‘faithful witness to the Gospel of Mercy,’ demonstrated by our commitment to the recovery and rehabilitation of victims.
Revealing his understanding of the complexity of issues related to human trafficking Francis mentioned the ‘distinctive contribution made by women in accompanying other women and children on a deeply personal journey of healing and reintegration.’ He then shared his hope that our time together during this coming week, will help us be more effective witnesses to the Gospel, ‘in one of the great peripheries of contemporary society.’ Pope Francis concluded his address by commending each one of the group ‘to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy,’ after which he gave us his papal blessing.
L-r: Denise Boyle fmdm, Lynda Dearloversm, Archbishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancelor of the Ponitifical Academy of Science and Social Sciences
As the loud applause died down, members of the group presented Pope Francis with a St. Brigid’s Cross. This was accompanied by a scroll explaining how the different reeds woven into the cross reflect the 27 European countries in the RENATE network, who are all working to eradicate human trafficking.
There was more to come. With a big smile Pope Francis stood waiting as the first of the 133 participants were ushered forward to shake hands with him! When it was my turn I thanked him for his work against human trafficking and then said ‘I think you know my city Dublin, in Ireland?’ Francis nodded and then thinking for a moment said ‘yes, Milltown’ and laughed. (The Jesuit community in Milltown is where Francis stayed during the six months he was studying English back in 1980).’
Editor: Pope Francis’ Address to the members of RENATE can be read here
Messages to: Denise Boyle fmdm – Assistant Director MIA, Mercy Global Action
Religious Women Critical In Fight Against Trafficking, Says Advocate
Ivonne van de Kar, an anti-trafficking advocate from the Netherlands, is seen at the Vatican press hall with Sister Monica Chikwe, a member of the Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy, who works with trafficked Nigerian women, Nov. 4. (CNS photo / Carol Glatz)
Women religious are often the first people to discover problems emerging in society because they work directly with so many people in need, an anti-trafficking advocate said.
However, because religious focus more on providing assistance than publicizing their efforts, the rest of the world is often slower to catch on to where there is trouble, said Ivonne van de Kar, the coordinator of the Foundation of Religious Against Trafficking of Women in the Netherlands.