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Talitha Kum: A network of networks to combat human trafficking

Sister Claudette Bastien, SNJM, participated in the international meeting of the Talitha Kum network which took place in Rome from June 19 to the 23. This International Network of Consecrated Life against Human Trafficking gathered representatives from Africa, Asia, South America, Australia, Europe, Canada and the United States. 

The purpose of this meeting was clearly intended to promote knowledge among representatives from different milieus. It also aimed at presenting the various networks existing on the continental or regional level.  When asked about her impressions, Sister Claudette Bastien spoke about a discovery. "It was a network that I had heard about from others and it had a less significant impact on me. Now that I have met with people who are a part of it and who are acting in solidarity to do better worldwide, it has become very moving and inspirational."

The experience of Sister Patricia Ebegbulem from Nigeria confirms the relevance of maintaining relations between all aid groups, as mentioned by Sister Claudette. "Sister Patricia welcomes young girls who have been involved in prostitution in Europe, and whom the Sisters from the network have sent to her women’s shelter in Nigeria. It is a collaborative approach!"

Days of Formation

These meeting days were very enriching, especially with the presentations by various international organizations, including Caritas Internationalis, which identified the resources and measures taken to counteract human trafficking.

The representatives of two new dicasteries, one dealing with refugees, migrants and human trafficking, and the other dealing with women, came to speak to the participants of Talitha Kum about their role. Two ambassadors to the Vatican, associated with the "trafficking of persons" dossier, also shared their views on this issue, considered to be a major concern for the Vatican. 

Participants at this Talitha Kum meeting also received training on how to build a database on trafficking with the help of Father Peter Lah, SJ professor at the Gregorian Institute.  


Financial requirements

The presence of an African Sister, Sister Jane Wakahiu LSOSF, Director of the Catholic Sisters Initiative, who emphasized the existence of a foundation (Conrad N. Hilton Foundation) interested in financially supporting projects sponsored by women religious, was also appreciated. It should be remembered that all the networks of religious against human trafficking, are desperately lacking the funds necessary to carry out their mission.

In addition, the members of the organization exchanged some ideas in preparation for the organization's tenth anniversary in 2019. This organization was born out of the shared desire to coordinate and strengthen the anti-trafficking activities put forth by consecrated women on every continent. This “network of networks” promotes anti-trafficking initiatives while being respectful of different backgrounds and cultures.
All the representatives were encouraged and stimulated when they left, especially since with technological advances, they hoped to be able to participate in conference calls that would enable them to maintain constant and more productive relationships.

It should be noted that it was as a representative of CATHII (Action Committee against Internal and International Trafficking) that Sister Claudette Bastien, SNJM, participated in this meeting. Sister Claudette has been an advocate working against human trafficking since the beginning of CATHII, founded in 2004 on the initiative of Congregations of Women Religious in Quebec. This was in 2001, in response to the call launched by the International Union of Superiors General (IUGS), regarding their concerns about human exploitation.

Group photo: 
The meeting of the coordinators of Talitha Kum brought together: Sisters Patricia Ebegbulem (Africa), Adeline Abamo (Asia), Gabriella Bottani (international Coordinator), Noeline Simmons (Oceania), Imelda Poole (Europe), Claudette Bastien (Canada) and Ann Oestreich (United States).

See other photos – Photo credits: Talitha Kum

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