By Marta Guglielmetti, Executive Director, Global Solidarity Fund
‘Victims’ Voices Lead the Way’ is the theme of this year’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, observed tomorrow, July 30. This theme could not be better to amplify the great work of Talitha Kum, which gathers more than 3,000 Catholic sisters and collaborators, across more than 90 countries, working together to eradicate human trafficking. None know better than these Sisters the importance of the voices of the victims — as well that of their silence.
I was moved reading the words of Sr. Ilse Villamar Cedeño, from Colombia: “Listen in silence: listen to the words, the gestures, the looks, smiles, because the heart cries of pain, but rarely the suffering experienced by the victims is expressed with the voice. We have to shout with them and for them.”
Tomorrow, Talitha Kum is launching #CareAgainstTrafficking, a powerful campaign helping us all to hear the voices of survivors. Here at the Global Solidarity Fund (GSF), we are proud to support this effort.
GSF is committed to catalyzing new partnerships for systemic change the most vulnerable. We’ve learned that to create real change, we need to listen – truly listen – to the people we hope to work with. Thus we applaud the decision to put survivors at the center of this year’s observance. The United Nations has put it well: “Learning from victims’ experiences and turning their suggestions into concrete actions will lead to a more victim-centred and effective approach in combating human trafficking.” This is exactly what the Catholic Sisters of Talitha Kum have been doing for decades around the world!
Talitha Kum has much to offer the global community in this conversation. It is a global network of Catholic Sisters fighting against human trafficking, acting wherever there are victims, and coordinated by our friend Sr. Gabriella Bottani. In many of the most difficult situations, Sisters are in deep relationship with women, men and children who have experienced trafficking. As described in this recent article, based on their experience and dialogue with survivors, the Talitha Kum network is giving to the victims a safe and respectful space to raise their voices.
In particular, it is calling on the global community to commit to long-term support for survivors of human trafficking, including access to quality education, work permits and job opportunities, justice and compensation, and healthcare and psychosocial support.
Recognizing the extraordinary service Catholic Sisters provide to vulnerable people, the ambition to further empower Sisters’ leadership as agents of change in global development is close to GSF’s heart. In the months and years ahead, we will work to ensure that Sisters’ experience and insights are listened to as we shape a better world beyond COVID-19.
Moving beyond July 30, please keep in touch with GSF for news on more developments. We’ll be standing with Talitha Kum as they help us all listen to survivors and move toward a world free of human trafficking. The next big moment will be on October 21 – watch this space!