Focolare Movement
Three women take on human trafficking

Three women take on human trafficking

Diana, Argia and Jane donate their time every day to help other women escape the repulsive phenomenon of human trafficking and slavery. Their stories were told for this year’s International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking. Each year, 8 February marks the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking. The Talitha Kum international network – which has more than 3,000 members and is supported by the Vatican and many associations, including the Focolare Movement – organised an online pilgrimage this year, “Walking for Dignity.” It included experiences from various parts of the world, and two in particular are linked to the Focolare Movement. Diana and Argia, from Naples, Italy, have been involved for years in a women’s association called “Donne Meridiane,” which works in social work and cultural education.

Blessing Degree

‘I got to know the work of a nun,’ says Argia, ‘who for years has been accompanying young women victims of trafficking in a process of reintegration into society. I wondered what we could concretely do for these girls. ‘The Gospel phrase “Love your neighbour as yourself” resonated strongly within me. In particular that “as yourself”, which perhaps also meant offering these young women the same possibilities of a free and dignified life that we European women have. So the idea of financing a course of study with the association came up for a young Nigerian woman.’ Diana adds: ‘We involved businesswomen, women from associations, institutions, friends and relatives. So we organised a fundraising evening to raise funds and support the initiative. ‘A few months ago we celebrated the graduation of Blessing, a young woman who became a new mother a few days ago. The friends with whom we had raised the funds were invited to share not only the joy of this milestone, but also the possibility of continuing to support other women on their journey.’ Jane’s story, on the other hand, comes from Africa. Three years ago she was living in Burkina Faso. ‘In the street in front of my house, every night there was a long queue of girls,’ she says. ‘What were they waiting for? Their turn to prostitute themselves. It was unfortunately a well-organised reality that you could do nothing to avoid.’ But Jane wanted to somehow do her part to help these girls. So she started collaborating with Talita Kum. ‘I discovered that many women go off on adventures to other countries or other cities to look for work or to study. Unfortunately, they often fall into the trap of prostitution. Talking about trafficking has opened the eyes of many girls and saved many lives.’ For the past year, Jane has been working at the Focolare Movement’s nutrition centre in Côte d’Ivoire. It is a centre for the prevention and treatment of child malnutrition. ‘Every day we take in many mothers, each with her own story. I remember one of them in particular: her husband had left to look for work but never came back. We listened to her story and cried with her. We had no solution. We offered her a small amount of money to help her with a small business in front of her house. ‘The young girls we work with are also sensitive to the issue of exploitation. I am always struck by the example of one of them, who says that our neighbourhood has the highest percentage of prostitution. She says this proudly because she has realised that despite this problem, our work in caring for children, mothers and their families is also our way of preventing human trafficking and exploitation.’

Lorenzo Russo

VIDEO: St. Peter’s Square, Rome, flash mob against human trafficking.