July 29, 2014

A Contemporary Issue: Eradication of Human Trafficking

'Mission is what God does in our world. Our call is to share in God’s mission, in what may prove to be the great adventure of our lives.”' So says Anthony Gittins CSSp.
Our last Chapter Statement calls members to “keep hope alive in our world today.” We do this in through our Mercy Mission.

One of the mission outreaches happening in our congregation is the work towards eradication of human trafficking, something put to us by Jesus through Mercy Global Concern. “He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives.” (Luke 4:17). Individual Sisters are working in their own localities alongside women who have come into Aotearoa New Zealand supposedly for one purpose and have ended up in very different circumstances.

As well as this, as a congregation we have undertaken to learn more about trafficking which seems to belong in places other than our land. Now we are discovering it is well and truly here too. Resources in the form of articles and references for websites are published in our local newsletters.

As Director of Religious Studies at Carmel College (one of our Mercy High Schools in Auckland), Sister Anna Nicholls has taken workshops for staff and students.
Access one of her presentations, including video clips from USA and ANZ showing the pervasiveness of trafficking and slavery of various types.

For Sr Anna, trafficking is a pressing issue for Mercy today. 'Catherine McAuley was a woman of the gospel, and she heard the call of Jesus to help those in need. There are so many people today who are being trafficked and kept in slavery who need the touch of Mercy. A huge number of these are women and children, who were the special focus of Catherine’s concern.'

It is becoming increasingly evident that each of needs to stir herself to speak out against trafficking and to work as advocates for those who find themselves in this position, women like this one who said: 'I used to do all the housework, like cooking, cleaning and washing. Even my mother-in-law gave me all her dirty clothes during her menstruation period for washing … She had many men friends. When they are around I have to prepare meals for them. Sometimes I believe that her son has learned these things from his mother.' Samson Tse, 'Family Violence in Asian Communities, Combining Research and Community Development," Social Policy Journal Of New Zealand Te Puna Whakaaro, no. 31 (2007).

Another resource we have used is the video Journey to Freedom which was created by the UN Global Initiative to fight trafficking. It highlights parallels between US slave trade and present-day human trafficking. We have been urged to pray for the victims of human trafficking, for all those who sing in desperation with Fantine from Les Miserables, 'I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living.'

Our indigenous Maori people know the importance of human dignity - He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata! What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!

E Te Atua, whaea o nga hunga rawa kore:
God, you are mother to the little and the lowly.
Through your son Jesus you welcomed children
and blessed them as greatest in your kingdom.
Move us to work to eliminate the forces that
deprive children of their rights and
that destroy their innocence and integrity.
Show us how to honour and respect
the dignity of all women, that with them
we may together find ways of enriching
all humanity as you call us to do,
in Mercy’s name. Amen. – Dennis Horton

Messages to: Anna Nicholls rsm

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