[Province Of St. Louise-USA] Approximately 60 people gathered at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Macon, GA on Saturday, November 3 for a workshop on Human Trafficking sponsored by the Daughters of Charity and the local Vincentian Family. Drawing from the ultimate Vincentian question in the face of human suffering, “What must be done?” the title of the gathering was The Fight Against Human Trafficking – What Must I Do?
The four morning presenters painted a global, national, state and local perspective on the issue, including the experience of a local survivor of human trafficking who shared her story with the group. Participants shared their thoughts over a delicious lunch. The afternoon speakers formed a panel of six local agencies and shared the part their respective organizations play in dealing with the issue. These included:
- A group of University students who work with high school students to raise awareness of the issue and build trust to learn from them of persons who may be in vulnerable situations
- Agroup that provides safe housing and services to victims of trafficking
- The Sherriff’s Officeand their efforts to portray those trafficked as victims rather than prostitutes needing to be arrested
- A group which provides mental health support and therapy for victims
The participants were educated in how to look for the signs of human trafficking, what to do and what not to do in situations where human trafficking is suspected, what laws are in place and what laws need to be advocated to protect vulnerable individuals. Men and women came not only from the local area but also from as far away as Savannah, Georgia to learn more about this scourge on our society. The editor of the Savannah diocesan Catholic paper, was present for the day and will write an article about the workshop so more people will be informed on the topic.
The day concluded with the group reciting the Prayer for an End to Human Trafficking and a handout on St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of kidnapped and trafficked persons.
Sister Elyse Staab, DC
Province of St. Louise – USA