MARY WARD LORETO is planting hope with a human rights approach to combating modern day slavery. This challenging mission is implemented through works of justice, education, grass roots action and systemic change.
The aim is to eradicate poverty, the prime cause for human trafficking.

Month: June 2014

May 2014

May 2014

The month of May demanded a complete change of temperature in the activities and then in facing so many new things during this time. We had the informal opening of two new Mary Ward Loreto centres in the South of Albania with great rejoicing on the part of so many.  We also had two visitors to stay with us in Albania.  Sr Anna Hawkes came from the CJ province in England for three weeks and Pete Thompson, the son of great friends in the UK, came for the two months of May and June.   We also had Katholikentag in Germany. Before this there was a trip to Austria to give a training day to a group of donors plus various meetings regarding our funding.  In the middle of the month I was engaged in a webinar with four schools from around the world for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.  Mike Emberson came later in the month for a flying visit from the Medaille trust in the UK to see the project we are partnered with in the south of Albania. He also needed to sign the final contract between Mary Ward Loreto and the Medaille Trust cementing this work together.  As they say, ‘’It was all going on!!’’ We also celebrated a webinar across the Institute for the launching of the next stages in the preparation for GC14. Lastly I flitted to Dublin for the night to interview the applicants for the post of communications officer for RENATE!

At every level May was a month of action!

A social worker was appointed to work in the informal areas of Tirana. In a period of two months she has been assessing the possibility to apply MWW intervention in an area, south east of Tirana called Uzina e Traktoreve. This area consists of a migrant population from the northern regions of Albania and the poverty rate is very high. Some training was accomplished and relationships with some of the women were forged. However the assessment analysis showed that in this area there were other NGO’s who were applying their strategies and so it was decided not to interfere and to look for other areas where MWW was needed the most. In the end of December, an invitation was made by the Dominican sisters of Catherine of Siena to work with the mothers of the children who are attending their kindergarten in the area of Breglumas. This area is very needy and there is a potential of 30 women to work with. This new Tirana social worker has started the need assessment process in the area of Breglumas working closely with the sisters who are resident in this place. A new MWL centre has been rented in the area and trainings are being developed.

new centre breglumas

The new MWL Centre in Breglumas, Tirana

The MWW worker is supporting the women to find a job, vocational training and to overcome their boundaries.  These are more linked with passivity and lack of self esteem.

MWL employed two more new social workers & psychologists for developing the work in Shendelli (Saint Ilia) and Fier with the women’s project MWW. A week of induction was organized for the new MWW workers. They were helped to understand the vision, mission and methodology of MWL in supporting those in need towards personal
empowerment. The training was based on the methodology of human development and the understanding of basic concepts in social business for empowering the women.

 

There were many words to read in the news from the month of April so for this month let’s say it in pictures!

Let’s begin with the opening of the centre in the south of Albania in Fier:

new cntre Fier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pjeter putting up the new Sign  in Fier

Aferdita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aferdita the new Social/Psychologist

flower business fier

The Beginnings of the Flower Growing Business with the women in Fier

new centre Shendelli

The new centre in Shendelli to be refurbished by June:

zana

Zana the new social/psycholgist for Shendelli

Gazi Mema who had started his employment with Mary Ward Loreto in March was now launching out into many areas of Albania.  The new youth project was launched in March and now in May after all the planning and the development of the research programme for youth in Albania and the finalizing of the marketing materials, Gazi was continuing to be out in the field fulfilling the action of 1,000 questionnaires answered by the youth:

gazi with group

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gazi working with one of the youth groups

gazi and marina                                      With Professor Marina who is supervising the work

The URAT project was also going from strength to strength and by the end of May they had visited nearly 20 regions of Albania training in awareness raising against trafficking in human persons:

mirjam and Syri Sr Mirjam and Syri training a group in the north

RENATE in Katholikentag Regensburg, Germany

katholikentag 1

katholikentag 2 katholikentag 4  kath 3

Below is the report on this event written by our newly appointed communications person for RENATE.    It will explain all of the pictures.

Katholikentag

 Regensburg, Germany.

May 28th – June 1st, 2014.

renate logo

A Reflection.

“More than 1,000 individual events combine to make the German Katholikentag a place of bridge-building; on behalf of society, faith and community . Being a Christian means dedicating oneself out of faith in God and Church and Society. Every Katholikentag is a platform for political, social and Church dialogue…”(Bridges of Encounter and Change; Katholikentag 2014).

The above quotation set the expectations for the Katholikentag of 2014. The founders set the bar to a high standard , which was lived up-to throughout the five days of the event.

At Katholikentag RENATE walked, worked and prayed in a place in which faith was enabled, encouraged, modelled, facilitated and taught. Hundreds upon hundreds of stalls and bright white tents were decked out colourfully and plentifully, welcoming and inviting us in, to engage, discuss, share and learn, affording us first-hand and memorable experiences of the diversity of life in Catholicism and in the contemporary Church.

RENATE is a European network of religious and lay people, committed to supporting each other in working against human trafficking and exploitation. RENATE was established to;

  • Develop awareness-raising activities against human trafficking and the growing demand within all levels of society in Europe, using all forms of modern technology and communications.
  • Network, share resources, skills and knowledge.
  • Research and implement actions against the growing demand for such abuse in the countries of origin and destination.

At Katholikentag, we came to learn and to share the work of RENATE and to involve more people in working together against the trafficking in human persons. We shook hands with hundreds of people from all sections of the church, shared meals with complete strangers who soon became friends and talked for hours with those equally passionate about Catholic Social Teaching and the journey of faith we are on, young and old alike; a journey of building bridges between God and humankind.

The intensity of such dialogue took us to places where we would rather not go; presented us with challenges and inevitably demanded that we give without limit as Christ himself gave for us.

Despite the incessant rain, we enjoyed the varied programmes of religious music, new music, pop, exhibitions, tours, cabarets, readings and Liturgies – Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Ecumenical.

We braved the rain and joined the thousands celebrating Mass at the University Stadium to commemorate Ascension Thursday. It was a fitting prelude to the presentations and workshops held that afternoon, with our own RENATE-Europe presentation staged from 14.00 to 15.30. The very attentive audience present clearly appreciated that very careful and thorough research had been done in order that a seamless presentation was achieved. The topic was Human Trafficking in Europe and from the Opening Address presented by the RENATE President, Sr. Imelda Poole, IBVM, through to the contribution of various other members of RENATE, there was a clarity of message and content maintained throughout the proceedings. Sr. Dagmar Plum MMM, the RENATE member from Germany, chaired the proceedings and gave input on her work with the Jesuit refugee service in Berlin, alongside other members who shared their local story of work in this field. It both challenged and invited those present, to think about what the presentation said to them as a group of audience members and invited their consideration and agency, in working as a network…the potential and the power of possibility.

We were blessed to have been joined by a five-person, male Acapella, who complimented the presenters with their selections of contemporary music and lyrics, ranging from Cold Play’s “Paradise” through to Leonard Cohen’s “Halleluiah” which concluded the proceedings. It also probably reflected the sheer relief of all five presenters to have completed that afternoon’s work! They did a magnificent job, sensitively speaking about the work of anti-trafficking across Europe and all the while, placing at the centre, the care of the victims.

Jesus revealed much about the reign of God through the Parables that He told. Amongst the most important are those that speak of extending the hand of friendship to others in need. The most obvious one that comes to mind, is the parable of The Good Samaritan. The ministry of RENATE-Europe is to be The Good Samaritan. Others have, and will continue to turn a blind eye and walk away from the challenges of Human Trafficking and the exploitation of one’s fellow human being, but RENATE is steadily sowing the seeds of a courageous stance, to work against Human Trafficking in Europe and maintain the dignity of the human person.

Imagination is the eye of the soul, according to Joseph Joubert and one of the great human realities is that we have the capacity for rich imaginings. It is a powerful source, which is often harnessed for good, but also often harnessed for less laudable purposes. Katholikentag provided us with a rich opportunity for networking and the opportunity to create new relationships, shared learnings and shared language codes with which to articulate our ministry.

…In the community

Everyone has a thousand hands

Everyone has a thousand feet,

No-one ever walks alone.  (Patrice Koyo, Cameroon).

 

Anne Kelleher, Communications person.

June 5th, 2014.

 During this time  there were also some very special visitors staying in the flat with me. Sr Anna Hawke CJ came for three weeks and mainly focused on the mission with the women in the rural and informal regions. It was so good to share the mission with Anna as a Mary Ward Sister who was so keen on all that was happening in the country and stepped out with such vigour sometimes with two sticks to guide her path.  She only needed the hat and she could have been mistaken for Mary Ward!

annaPete (Right to left) in Kruje, with Sr Anna and Pjeter from MWL 

Pete Thompson has been here for two months.  He is from the UK and a son of a great family living in the NE of England who were close friends when we were on mission there 9 years ago. Pete is on the far right in the picture above.  Pete stayed with the Mother Teresa sisters whilst with us but did a huge variety of voluntary work all over the country.

Bill Morrell is working here in Albania for two years as a consultant with the Police at the USA embassy.  He came for dinner with Sr Anna and Pete.

bill and Peter

 

         

 

 

 

 

 

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April 2014

April 2014: Vatican Conference: Combating Human Trafficking

The major event in April which took place just after the Provincial Congregation had finished,  was the second conference against trafficking held at the Vatican and initiated by the Heirarchy of England and Wales.  Cardinal Vincent Nicholls led the proceeding which was attended by the chief of police and members of the hierarchy from all over the world. Pope Francis came to the event and gave a stirring talk pleading with the world to work together to combat this crime.

vincent

Artan Didi, Head of Police in Albania with Cardinal Nicholls

It was deeply moving to listen to his words of wisdom as we sat in the midst of him.  We had the honour of meeting the Pope at the end of this event.  He is a truly holy man and gives us all so much hope. The following report was written just after the conference had finished.

Combating Human Trafficking: Church and Law enforcement in Partnership.

Venue: Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Social Sciences. April 9th -10th

                        Leaders in the church and law enforcement gathered from all over the world to create a joined-up and cross-border commitment to combat human trafficking. A declaration of intent was signed by both parties at the end of this conference.

To authentic the proceedings and to keep in touch with the real, three victims of trafficking gave a stirring and mind-changing input which would have urged all participants to stay true to this commitment. Fortunately, Teresa May, the Home Secretary in the UK, was able to be present and also gave invaluable input. She offered hope to those gathered stating that the work against trafficking in human persons is a priority in the government. Finally, five religious sisters were present, all of whom worked at the coal face and represented UISG, RENATE, The International Congregation of the Adoratrix, and the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Nigeria.

The proceedings began with prayer followed by a brief statement from Cardinal Nichols who opened the conference and welcomed all present. He said:  “Our perspective in everything we do and say has to be informed by the voice of the victim”.  A short film followed this statement showing the disturbing experiences of four victims of trafficking. They were all caught up in the web of deceit which trapped them into the hope of a better life and greater opportunity but which had ended in misery, torture and a long road to recovery.

in the conf

Dr Domenico Giani, the Inspector General of the Vatican Gendarmerie, made four important points: the need to extend the jurisdiction of certain offices in order to embrace, in its totality, the work to combat human trafficking; the power of finance in increasing the ability to commit the criminals; the need to confiscate the assets and re-deploy the money for the work; and finally the need for a strong finance base to combat terrorism.

Bishop Patrick Lynch, the chair of the Office for Migration Policy is a member of the Bishop’s conference Department of International Affairs in the UK. He spoke with passion about the need for a greater awareness of this issue in order to become convinced of the evil being perpetrated.  He saw the need for deeper compassion and to be collaborative in all the work.  For this to happen he spoke of the need to create good will amongst all of the protagonists.  He spoke of St Josephine Bakhita as our role model, a slave herself who was drawn by compassion to free herself from the hands of the slave owners. In the light of this he spoke of the work of women religious all over the world, engaged in the field, at the coal face with victims and in raising awareness of this crime.

Teresa May quoted Pope Francis stating that our presence here today is to talk about “a crime against humanity”. This crime is complex, she said, and the numbers unthinkable.  It is a hidden crime in society.  She thanked the church for showing the lead. She declared that all difficulties which we face in combating the crime should not stop us from “Disrupting, convicting and imprisoning the criminal gangs to stamp out the crime”. Anti trafficking is a priority in the UK.  The draft bill on trafficking introduces tougher sentences, provides a tool for disrupting the crime by stopping the illegal travel across borders.  There will be a new Anti-slavery commissioner, she said, and a national anti trafficking crime agency.  Complex crimes need good intelligence and this will be put into place through these new means. She spoke of a  greater emphasis on cross border collaboration,  and the fact that specialist anti-slavery teams have now been appointed on all British borders. Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland is at the forefront of the field.  The Home Secretary spoke of the need to focus on the profits and to seize the assets.  At the heart of the work, she declared, there needs to be every means put into place for the protection of the victim.  All countries have to be involved.  In Europe they need to know that there are no safe havens.  A Santa Martha Group has been established and in November, in collaboration with the Catholic Church, people will be invited to work together against this crime.  A conference in London will launch much of this work in November.

Kevin Hyland, who currently leads the UK’s only dedicated Human Trafficking Teams based within the Met’s Specialist Crime and Operations Section, followed this positive call to action, with a summary of the work of this specialist unit, its’ successes, which were many and its’ challenges. He spoke of the new hub in London created with a multi-disciplinary and joined up approach including not only law enforcement services but also medical personnel, social services, education and all stake-holders.  He spoke of being in close collaboration with religious sisters in London and afar, who work in the field of anti trafficking. He gave hope talking about the compensation being given to victims through the mediation of employment tribunals. The partnerships being developed are multi-disciplinary and are making a real difference. Questions were raised from the floor about the possibility of a multi-faith approach and it would seem that, though slow, progress is being made to engage all faith traditions in this work. It was also said that that to make the work more effective bi-lateral agreements have been made across borders with Thailand and Nigeria. Kevin Hyland felt that intelligence sharing needs to be expanded and made more effective.

 

Roland Noble, The Secretary General of Interpol, began his input with perhaps one of the most moving and informative films on child trafficking.  He spoke from a global perspective. Quoting Martin Luther King, he said:  “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. International solidarity is rising yet slavery is still ever present and it is still hidden.  It is creating such a huge economy and there are huge numbers involved.  The spread and the involvement of the traffickers are beyond precedence.  Human slavery feeds on misery. Merchants will always be able to find men, women and children desperate to find a better life.  These stolen lives are frightened as they become indebted to the merchants who constantly follow them. There is a constant fear for the victims that they will be arrested.  Trafficking is a deep, complex, self-created criminal machinery.  Roland Nobel continued by asking the question: How do we implement the strategy, cross borders, beliefs, cultures? There is no such thing as an unstoppable machine.  Prevention is the answer.  Stop the flow before the victims reach the merchants. Raise  awareness, and have a global awareness raising campaign.  Let everyone have a role to play.  The knowledge of this crime needs to be spread.  We need the knowledge from the eyes of the victims with a much greater interaction amongst all people. To support the law enforcement and the re-integration of victims, networks need to be expanded across every discipline.  It is a difficult struggle.  Let us be ambassadors of hope.  Mr Noble mentioned, in particular, the Roma community, calling for civil rights in their regard. He said that these people are very vulnerable to the work of the criminals.  Law enforcement and governments need to focus on safe migration and carefully integrated programmes for the migrants.

heads of policeCommissioner of the Federal Police in Australia, Tony Negus, spoke of their response to this crime in the ASEAN Region. He spoke of four key features of the policy in this work: On –going explorations of the extent of the problem, taking a whole-of-government approach to combating trafficking; implementing a well-resourced anti trafficking strategy, collaborating with many of the destination and origin countries and looking in particular, at the extent of labour trafficking.  Victims have been increasingly identified in agriculture, construction, hospitality and domestic service. The Australian government provides $150 million for this work. There is a highly developed network in their region, he said, to ensure the safety of the victim and to implement rehabilitation programmes ensuring everything is in process long enough to free the victim to denounce the criminal. Since January 2004 more than 340 investigations and assessments into allegations of trafficking in persons have taken place but these have only yielded 17 convictions. Since the last year this has greatly increased and 92% of identified victims are voluntarily participating in an investigation or prosecution during the last year. 52% of these were for labour trafficking, 48% for sexual exploitation. Many other crimes such as fraud and money laundering are also picked up during these investigations. Special immigration officers have been posted from the Australian police in Thailand, China and the Philippines. There is an especially close relationship in this work between the Thai police and the Australian Federal Police.

Mr Ranjit Sinha, the Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation in India declared that the problem in human trafficking in his country was huge. The country takes a multi-faith and multi-disciplinary approach.  Now it recognises the need for and has set up an anti trafficking system which includes tool kits for awareness raising, handbooks and a mapping is in progress to look at all of the vulnerable factors in India which have led to such mass crime. One million children have gone missing in India. Now there is a missing children alert throughout the country. Kerala and Bombay are the most vulnerable regions for the trafficking in human persons. India is in great favour of global networks being developed to combat the crime.

Mr Marius Roman, Chief Superintendant and Head of the Anti Trafficking Unit of the Romanian Police spoke of the present reality in his country. In Romania there is a strong  law enforcement but they can see and detect an increase in the phenomena of human trafficking.  They see that the tricks of the traffickers have changed and that there is more mental than physical abuse.  In the recent past there have been 1,000 investigations with a huge increase recently. In this time only 200 traffickers have been brought to trial. The challenges they face are based on the knowledge that this is a hugely lucrative crime.  The proceeds from this crime are used to finance other crime.  The criminal syndicates are highly mobile and active in several jurisdictions and especially where the legislation is permissive.  All the cases which go to court are based on a victim’s testimony.

 

Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences gave Interpol figures revealing that 30,000 victims have been trafficked from the Sudan and that 3,000 have undergone extreme torture perpetrated by their captors. Many victims have been killed in order to sell off their organs. 4,000 children are known to have been sold from the Sudanese refugee camps in Jordan.  It is a $6 million turn over from this crime alone. Law enforcement bears witness to this fact in the Lebanon where thousands have been trafficked from the camps. The question was asked: How can Europol and Interpol be involved collaboratively and globally in the sharing of instant information?

At the end of this first day of the conference the Bishop of South Africa raised the issue of seafarers and that to his knowledge thousands of them were at ransom globally in their work far away from home and unpaid for the work. This is especially happening with many shipping companies who have gone bankrupt.  It was added that Scotland also has this problem.  It is a difficult problem to identify as the ships move on at a fast rate. Cardinal Nichols suggested the involvement of the Apostleship of the Sea in this work. Bishop Diarmuid Martin from Ireland confirmed that this was also an issue for them.

Bishop Sorondo referred back to the inter-faith agreement which has recently been signed  to work together within a global context to combat this crime.

At the end of this first day Cardinal Nichols spoke of hearing the words from the Scriptures ringing out throughout the proceedings of the day:  “The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor”. He suggested we take this to heart and listen to the cry of the poor.

Day Two:

There was a shift of emphasis on Day two which was dedicated to hearing the woman’s voice. Three victims of trafficking gave a stirring account of their experiences and the way forward for the forum present.  Two female religious spoke of their congregations work against trafficking and Mira Sorvino United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Against Human Trafficking, spoke of her work in awareness raising and advocacy in combating the crime.

The day opened with prayer led by Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher from the Canadian Bishop’s Conference. Mira Sorvino following this, stressed in her closing remarks the need for partnerships.  She said that the traffickers have billions of dollars and criminal networks to achieve their evil.  She called for all resources from each group or individual in society, working in concert, to level the playing field, learning and building from each other. Only together can we rebuild a healthier society which eradicates slavery. She added that a survivor friend had said to her that the common thread among victims is abuse/neglect in the family. So prevention starts there.

The first victim of trafficking confirmed this point being made by Mira.  She had come from a home of abuse, children’s homes and foster care.  Later her Father had tried to kill her.  A ‘Friend’ offered her work in the UK to escape from this tortuous reality. She was sold to Hungarian Gypsies and trafficked into the sex industry from then on. The second victim had been sold by her sister.  She could not believe that this could happen and lost all trust in humanity.  She was bought and sold on, by men in London who hurt her badly every day.  She was totally controlled and never given any money.  The money she came with was also stolen from her.  She was starved to make her more thin for the work and even a 3 year old boy, part of the family of the trafficking ring, abused and scoffed at her daily.  The effect of all of this is still with this young woman every day. The third victim was tricked to come to Rome for work and was trafficked onwards to the UK where she was used and abused by Czech traffickers in the city of Gloucester. They took her, they took her money, beat her and gave her little food.  She was frightened for her life.  Her experience has led her to feel less than a person and more like a machine to make money, she said: “You are an amount of money – you are valued by the amount of money you make”. She spoke of losing faith and having no belief in the possibility to run and escape.  It left her in total darkness with no one to help her.  She spoke of the police being the key to freedom for the trafficked victim.  She called on the police to be more present in a visible way, in all the brothels and all possible places where the sex trade may be taking place.  The only person the traffickers fear is the police.  She asked the church to pray for them.  Now that she is free she is happy and she desires this for all trafficked victims.  She is now a student but has no papers and therefore in this healing process she still feels like a criminal in Britain. She felt that the laws in Britain do not protect the victim.

Sr Florence Nwaonuma: the General Superior of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, an indigenous congregation in Nigeria reflected on the fact that in Italy 80% of trafficked victims are Nigerian.  The pattern of the traffickers in Nigeria has assumed a different dimension.  Now the trafficked victim is rarely related to the curse of Juju but thousands of Nigerians are travelling voluntarily for a better life but are easy targets for the traffickers who promise them so much. She sees the need for greater awareness raising, to be aware of the use of social media by the traffickers.  She spoke of the wonderful work which the sisters are doing in the empowerment of women and in the shelters and places of safety for the victims. She spoke of the work being an epiphany of God’s love and that the key text to remember is: “I was hungry and you gave me to eat”.  All peoples want to escape from poverty and hunger. She said that we are the silent witnesses and eloquent denouncers of evil in the midst of a country with unjust structures.

Sr Aurelia Agredano the vice general of the Congregation of Adoratrices spoke movingly of her congregations work in every aspect of the field of trafficking, as a response to the call coming from the charism of her congregation.  The sisters work in direct action in shelters for trafficked victims in many parts of the world and also in awareness raising, advocacy and on-going protection of the victim.  She spoke in detail of these many works being carried out in extreme and difficult situations.  She said” Our task as men and women followers of Jesus is a matter of the practice of liberation. Healing, and re-structuring of life.  We cannot remain on the sidelines of the road as bystanders..  We need to question our way of being in the reality and say with Jeremiah: “ wipe away the tears; there is hope for the future.”

The final word was given to Pope Francis who came at the end of this day’s proceedings to speak to the gathered forum.

the pope“I greet each of you participating in this Conference, the second such gathering held here in the Vatican to promote united efforts against human trafficking.  I thank Cardinal Nichols and the Bishop’s conference of England and Wales for organizing this meeting, and the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences for hosting it.

 

Human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the Body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity.  The very fact of our being here to combine our efforts means that we want our strategies and areas of expertise to be accompanied and reinforced by the mercy of the Gospel, by closeness to the men and women who are victims of this crime. Our meeting today includes law enforcement authorities who are primarily responsible for combating this tragic reality by a vigorous application of the law.  It also includes humanitarian and social workers, whose task is to provide the victims with welcome, human warmth and the possibility of building a new life.  These are two different approaches, but they can and must go together. To dialogue and exchange views on the basis of these two complementary approaches is quite important.  Conferences such as this are extremely helpful, and, I would say, much needed.

I believe the one important sign of this is the fact that, one year after your first meeting, you have regrouped from throughout the world in order to advance your common efforts. I thank you for your readiness to work together.  I pray that our Lord will assist you and that Our Lady will watch over you”.  (Pope Francis)

Finally it is good to remind ourselves of the estimated facts:

According to the first edition of the Global Slavery Index, which provides an estimate country-by-country, of the number of people living in modern slavery today, the greatest number rank in the following ten countries: India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Taken together, these ten countries account for 76% of the total estimate of 29.8 million enslaved people. Over time, the Global Slavery Index report will fill gaps in information about the size and nature of the problem, risk factors and the effectiveness of responses. The intention is to inform and empower civil society groups working on this issue, and to assist governments to strengthen their efforts to eliminate all forms of modern slavery.

We finish with the words of Pope Francis: Human trafficking is an open wound of contemporary society. A scourge upon the body of Christ.  It is a crime against humanity.

The Group

Imelda Poole IBVM(Loreto)  RENATE Representative at the Conference.

 

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Olivia Conroy in Albania July 2014

 

 Olivia arrived in Albania on Sunday June 29th from London, UK.  She is a graduate student at Oxford university and came full of passion for her subject and armed with the methodology of the RENATE mapping exercise and questionnaire for the various groups. These which would be used to enable her to achieve her task. 

 

Olivia Conroy, Researcher for Mapping Exercise: RENATE

 

Olivia Conroy, Researcher for Mapping Exercise: RENATE

On Monday, first thing, Olivia had a meeting with Elona Gjebrea, the deputy minister at the home office and head of the unit for Anti trafficking unit in Albania. She also met her deputy in the unit, who is an experienced police woman, who had worked face to face with the victims of trafficking in her l
Olivia Conroy, Researcher for the Mapping Exercise: RENATE

 

The meetings were extremely useful for Olivia who also received at this time the relevant documents related to the government referral mechanisms and strategies. We were all grateful for this opportunity. The rest of the next two days was spent with Mariana Meshi, also a member of RENATE. She is the director of Different and Equal(D&E), a shelter and rehabilitation programme for victims and survivors of trafficking. Olivia was able to accomplish the answering of half of the questionnaire during this time and both Mariana and her staff were very generous with their time and with their expertise in introducing Olivia into the world of the victim, the processes of rehabilitation and the opportunities given for work and for social businesses.

 

The next two days Olivia spent with the staff of Mary Ward Women, a project of Mary ward Loreto and managed by Ana Stakaj ( a member of RENATE) and Irena Kraja the coordinator in the north of Albania.  Here she was introduced by Irena  and Aferdita Gjoni, the social/psychologist for Kalmet (Lezhe), to the work of prevention with women from rural and isolated villages near to Shkodra and Lezhe. She met women who were setting up their own businesses in card making, agriculture and jewellry making.  She also talked with the staff and understood their process for human development, health care and strategies for enabling the women to set up their own businesses. Human and Economic empowerment through freedom, justice and sincerity is the branding slogan for Mary Ward Loreto and this project is fulfilling this aim with great results. Olivia was able to see this first hand.

 

On the fifth day Olivia focused on child trafficking and spent her time with the project initiated by MWL in partnership with the NGO Education for Life (SHKEJ), called Little Angels.  This project focuses on the families of the ethnic minorities , Roma and Egyptian and runs a centre for education and social development, for fifty children. The project also outreaches to three Roma camps where the families of the children live.  The manager of the Centre, Erion Prendi and his staff helped Olivia to understand the whole phenomenon of child trafficking and gave her the relevant documents produced in Albania to combat this crime. Olivia’s report will express much of this and comment on its content, conclusions and the issues still arising for combating such a terrible form of modern day slavery.

 

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Sr Mirjam and Syri, Trainers at the meeting in Fier

The sixth and final day of her stay in Albania, Olivia met with Imelda Poole IBVM (Member of RENATE and President of MWL), to answer many of the questions relating to church/religious congregations and the Bishop’s conference and their response to the work of anti trafficking. The RENATE office is also based in Albania and as President of RENATE living in Albania, Imelda and Olivia discussed how this has had an impact in terms of representing RENATE at The Vatican and Brussels, and how this has informed the work of RENATE into the future. Sr Mirjam Beike, (CGS) who is leading one of the MWL projects in awareness-raising against trafficking, also represents RENATE and MWL on the EU Civil Society Platform Against Trafficking. This was discussed later in the day when we met Mirjam at the end of a training which she was leading in Fier in the south of Albania.  Olivia talked of this training as being inspirational and was with 30 Roma young people, their parents and grand- parents in a tiny room with a temperature of 38 degrees.  The meeting has an excellent methodology stimulating a great interaction in the group despite the heat.

 

 

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Olivia and Imelda with one of the Fathers at the training in Fier

Olivia is now on her way home and has the task of writing up all her findings to be included in the Mapping Research of RENATE.  Thank you Olivia for doing your job so thoroughly and thanks to all the staff and friends who enabled her to do her work for RENATE.

 

 

 

 

 

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