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