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Put an End to Modern Slavery, Reflection from 18th October Campaign in Poland

 

Letter of Support from the First Lady of Poland
Letter of Support from the First Lady of Poland

Sunday 18th October was the day of a Campaign against Human Trafficking*, initiated and organised mainly by the Bakhita Network** in conjunction with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, the Alliance of Mercy Community and people from various other communities.
Several weeks before the event, Sr. Joanna Lipowska FMM together with Paulina Spratek and Justyna Chłodny (the Alliance of Mercy Community) decided to put into words what had been stirring in their hearts for so long: a desire to express their solidarity with the victims of human trafficking, too often voiceless and forgotten. Their goal was to make others aware of the problem and encourage people to go out into the streets and become a voice crying out for dignity and respect of those who are enslaved. All those who decided to join in the campaign – individuals as well as communities – in different towns and cities of Poland, received a booklet containing a set of suggestions, ideas, rules and information to give guidance when organising a similar event.
In Warsaw, the FMM sisters found support and great understanding amongst the Alliance of Mercy Community members. The suggestion to join in with the European Day against Human Trafficking was welcomed with enthusiasm and seen as a mission of sharing mercy with the most needy. Some of those who volunteered felt confident to be part of the street mime, others distributed materials and shared information. There were workshops organised to familiarise the volunteers with the problem of human trafficking and to instruct them on offering possible help to the victims. The whole process required a lot of preparation. Often people attended after a tiring day of work or studies: some for rehearsals, others to learn the art of communicating effectively about prevention; how to handle possible reactions to the problem and source information on where to get help for the victims.
Street Pantomime in Warsaw, 18th October 2015
Street Pantomime in Warsaw, 18th October 2015

The long awaited Sunday came eventually. Despite the weather forecast, the day was not bright and sunny. The Old City of Warsaw looked sad and dull as rain drizzled down. Yet nobody seemed discouraged: instead, we saw it as a sign from the Lord – sadness, fear, cold and tears are often the reality of those suffering as contemporary slaves. So even the weather helped us to feel solidarity with the victims, to sense their world through feeling cold and longing for a ray of sunshine.
At 3 p.m., praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, we entrusted our campaign to the Merciful God. Strengthened with His power, we took to the streets of Warsaw.
(…)
Read more: Reflection on 18th October 2015 Campaign in Poland

Bakhita Network Meeting in Poland

 

Is there slavery today? Yes! The polls say that there may be as many as 27 million contemporary slaves. This issue of slavery affects Poland too, though sometimes overlooked, it is very much present all around us.
 
HOW TO PREVENT IT?
HOW TO HELP THE VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING?
HOW TO PUT END TO INDIFFERENCE? 
These are some of the questions on the agenda of our meeting. 
 
BAKHITA NETWORK MEETING
Bakhita Network Meeting in Cracow, 4-5 September 2015As the Year of Mercy is approaching, Pope Francis encourages us to help suffering humanity with a renewed commitment; to open eyes to the misery of the world and the wounds of our brothers and sisters, deprived of dignity. In response to this plea, the Bakhita Network for the Prevention and Aid for the Victims of Contemporary Slavery at the Council of Major Superiors of the Women Religious, organised a training session for its members. It was held from 4th to 5th September 2015, in the Seminary of the Conventual Franciscan Friars in Cracow. Sr. Joanna Lipowska FMM, the president of the Bakhita section and Sr. Anna Bałchan SMI coordinated the meetings and workshops. Forty nine people from across Poland answered the invitation to gather for this purpose, among them forty two sisters from various religious congregations, one priest and six lay people.
 
The first day of lectures and workshops conducted by Sr. Anna Bałchan focused on human trafficking;  the extent of the problem; methods used by the traffickers and the suffering endured by their victims. The participants listened to some stories of those who were once enslaved.
 
On the second day, the session was preceded by Mass and Morning Prayer, after which the first part addressed the question of different ways to help the victims. The lectures were supported by workshops and small group work. In this way, participants learned through experience about the processes of interpersonal communication, attitudes preventing good communication, factors that help create a bond between helper and person assisted. Trainees were given tools and tips in order that they might learn ways of helping wisely. Sr. Anna shared her personal experience of caring for victims and this was a particularly valuable example.
 
For the second part of the meeting, Sr. Joanna Lipowska, with Mrs. Justyna Chłodny and Paulina Spratek from the Covenant of Mercy Community in Warsaw, presented a suggested campaign for 18th October – European Day against Human Trafficking. The participants had a chance to practice their skills: take on the role of people involved in the campaign, join in a pantomime, be involved while a deeply exciting project was created.
Introduction to Campaign for 18th October 2015
To complete their training, each person received a booklet with specific ‘step by step’ guide. This guide included: undertaking an action plan, instructions for coordinators, detailed description of the social, educational and artistic part of the campaign. The whole proposal contains vital elements of information, artistic expression (a pantomime, and a display) and spiritual involvement (invitation to participate in Adoration or Eucharist). The participants received materials that could be used when preparing such a campaign.
As emphasised by the authors, the base and climax of what they suggest, is a call to entrust both the victims and the perpetrators to the mercy of God: an attitude that turns helplessness into the power of prayer. Thus, the intensive training day culminated in the evening adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
 
A particularly valuable side of the session was the mutual understanding and cooperation of religious sisters and brothers who share the passion for serving Christ in others; the opportunity to exchange their experiences. Relationships established among the participants give hope for further cooperation to fight human trafficking and help victims. The witness of those who help victims inspired and awakened a desire to commit ourselves in the best way possible.
The meeting in Cracow was a very creative time. For that we thank God and we thank the people involved.
May the Lord guide this work and enable us to love and serve those entrusted to the Bakhita Network.
 
If you are interested in the topic and ready to cooperate – please Join the Bakhita Network: bakhitapl@gmail.com
Sr. Joanna Lipowska FMM