In 2016, sisters at Bakhita Villa, a safe house in Lagos, Nigeria, helped rescue and rehabilitate nine victims of human trafficking. St. Louis Sr. Patricia Ebegbulem, director of the safe house, talked to GSR about her ministry, why she feels drawn to St. Josephine Bakhita, and why so many people are at risk for being trafficked today.
"Just looking at the grass, or flowers, and sitting in the sun; the beauty of nature helped me recover."
Sacred Heart of Jesus Sr. Florence Nweonuma was on the front lines helping draft the law that outlawed trafficking in Nigeria in 2003. Global Sisters Report caught up with Nweonuma in October to hear her reflections on two decades of anti-trafficking work.
GSR Today - There are 2.4 million trafficking victims globally. With regional and national organizations that provide support for smaller groups and ministries, sisters around the world are working together to save victims, operating safe houses, rehabilitation programs, educational programs, and public campaigns.
Travelers have the chance to help rescue sex-trafficking victims via the TraffickCam app, which is creating a database of hotel room photos. It's a project of Exchange Initiative, which came into being after meeting planner Kimberly Ritter crossed paths with the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Along Midwestern highways and interstates, with their hundreds of truck stops and rest stops, hubs for sex trafficking thrive. Sisters throughout the region are educating people to recognize the signs of victimization and are helping survivors recover.
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.
GSR Today: September 25 is IJM's Freedom Sunday, which will feature events across the nation on human trafficking. If you can plan things in a hurry, you can host an event yourself. The Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking also hosts a Freedom Sunday on that date.
GSR Today - Rahab's Heart is an interfaith ministry that reaches out, without judgement, to people in Toledo, Ohio, who are prostitutes. A former sex worker, LeeAnn Campbell, started the ministry with Ursuline Sr. Sandy Sherman.
A growing movement is recognizing the perils of human trafficking and its wide reach throughout the world. "Trafficking for exploitation robs people of dignity. It is modern-day slavery and evokes the Old Testament situation of Moses seeing the condition of the people in slavery in Egypt and wanting to rescue them."