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SSND associates take a stand against human trafficking

Associates logoSchool Sisters of Notre Dame Associates

Following the example set by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, associates throughout the Central Pacific Province are taking a stand against human trafficking through prayer, education and helping those who are impacted.

The first of three gatherings was a presentation to associates in St. Louis, by Shima Rostami who provided a list of behavioral characteristics to look for if someone is being trafficked. Shima, Founder and Principal Investigator for the Yellow Butterfly Project, shared her involvement with a local trafficking task force and her previous experiences with The Amistad Movement, sponsored by the Migration and Refugee Services of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). She also shared practical responses to use if associates suspected human trafficking. Thanks to the information Shima provided, a St. Louis associate recognized a suspicious situation and called the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888).

In Elm Grove, Wisconsin, Rachel Monaco-Wilcox, JD, CEO and Founder of LOTUS Legal Clinic, spoke at an associate gathering on “Working to Help Victims of Human Trafficking: Labor and Sex.” LOTUS stands for Legal Options for Trafficked and Underserved Survivors. Among LOTUS' unique programs is “Untold Stories,” which provides a creative and safe environment for survivors to develop their own works of poetry, short fiction or prose. The program brings healing to survivors of sexual or domestic violence and human trafficking, and it helps build skills so survivors can move forward with their lives. Sisters and associates in Elm Grove wrote notes of encouragement to support survivors who are participating in the program. They also created beautiful cloth-covered notebooks for the participants of “Untold Stories,” so those affected by human trafficking can capture their stories and emotions in a journal.

Participants were invited to pledge to take action to put an end to human trafficking through education, awareness, prayer and action. The pledge took place during a symposium on human trafficking held at St. Mary of the Pines, Chatawa, Mississippi, in August 2018. Photo by Anne Carey.A symposium on human trafficking, held in Chatawa, Mississippi, featured four speakers from Catholic Charities, Respect Life Office and the State of Mississippi Trafficking Task Force. Topics included how social media is used to promote sex trafficking, how law enforcement and social service agencies work together in trafficking cases, and the impacts of labor trafficking. The video, “Chosen” by Shared Hope International, highlighted the sophistication of trafficking rings and how easily young people can be persuaded and manipulated by traffickers. Participants were overwhelmed by the human tragedy of trafficking, but they felt empowered with concrete actions to help eradicate human trafficking. The Stop Human Trafficking Pledge, promising to educate, pray and take action to put an end to human trafficking was signed by 70 sisters, associates and friends. Two nurse practitioners who attended the symposium were planning to share the information they received with their nursing association. A judge from Brookhaven, Mississippi, commented that all judges should work more during court proceedings to protect those affected by human trafficking. Since the symposium, SSND associates in the area have been gathering items needed by a safe house in Zachary, Louisiana. The safe house helps protect women affected by human trafficking.

You can learn how to stop human trafficking in your community by attending one of SSND’s Women’s Leadership Luncheons. The luncheons are scheduled in Milwaukee, Dallas, St. Louis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Each luncheon features a speaker who will share her experiences in helping those affected by human trafficking and provide tips for identifying and eliminating human trafficking. Register now to reserve your seat at the luncheon.

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