Advocacy… to be a voice for the voiceless…

On March 24, 2017, a training seminar was held at the General House of the Missionaries of Africa on “Advocacy and Lobbying as Mechanisms for Advancing the AEFJN Plan of Action” (Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network / Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network).

The two members of the team in Brussels, Mr. Gino Brunswijck and Mr. José Luis Gutierrez, trained to “advocacy” thirty religious men and women from various missionary congregations. They explained their commitment to the European Union on the various issues at the heart of the AEFJN. They also shared their experiences of networking with other civil society and religious organizations in Brussels and in Africa.

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The goal of their advocacy is to be the voice of those who are voiceless in Africa. Advocacy is a non-violent form of making known internationally the injustices committed by land grabbing, mining, etc.

The plea reminds us that it is concrete people, women, men and children who suffer and are the victims of economic exploitation in Africa.

The means used by advocacy are multiple: publication of information received, petition, exposure of photos, various forms of public action, training and animation, etc.

Today the social media offer even more ways for advocacy: the website (www.aefjn.org); Twitter (@AEFJN); Facebook (in development).

The Brussels team works on behalf of our respective congregations, it offers their services to us who work in Africa and for the African world. It seeks to intensify collaboration with Africa. I personally retain two requests from them.

  • For international advocacy to be more effective, it is essential to receive important, relevant and reliable information from the grassroots level in Africa. As a result, we are on the ground of the necessary intermediaries for the causes of the poor and exploited to be heard on an international scale.
  • For AEFJN advocacy to have more influence with politicians and the structures that matter, it is important to show our strength as a number. This becomes for example visible on the Twitter account. By becoming an AEFJN “follower” on Twitter we are strengthening the voice of the voiceless.

In this time of Lent, let us offer our strength and our means to make the voices of the poor, the exploited, the voiceless of Africa heard!

Bon Carême

Andreas Göpfert,
Coordinateur de JPIC-ED

Human trafficking … MAfr & MSOLA

Wednesday, the 15th February 2017, was a historic day in the history of the Lavigerie Family. It brought together the General Councils of the Missionaries of Africa (M.Afr.) and the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA), the Provincial and Section Superiors of the M.Afr. and leaders of the five MSOLA Entities.

One major topic was on the Agenda: Human trafficking and related issues. This topic has great importance to both institutes because it is closely linked to the Anti-Slavery campaign of our common Founder, Cardinal Lavigerie. It has also been selected as a prime concern for both Institutes: The M.Afr. Chapter of 2016 chose migrants and human trafficking as a main area of concern. The MSOLA, in their enlarged Council, also selected this topic as one of their four priorities.

The day started with a conference given by Sr. Gabriella Bottani (SCM), coordinator of “Talitha Kum.” She first gave the historical background of the “Talitha Kum” group, which is an international network of people in Consecrated Life working against trafficking in persons (www.talithakum.info).
Most trafficking of people takes place within the country itself or in neighbouring countries. Trafficking of people on at transnational or intercontinental level is very small in comparison.

The speaker identified various forms of trafficking and slavery: domestic servitude; forced labour; organ removal (sometimes for reasons of witchcraft); criminal acts (e.g. child soldiers & drugs smuggling); begging; forced marriage and sexual exploitation (e.g. prostitution and cyber-sex).

After this introduction, the participants were divided into various groups, each of which was given one of the following topics to discuss: Advocacy; Protection; Prevention and Networking. The groups were invited to answer the following questions, what are the challenges? what are the calls? The different groups reported back and this led to an enriching discussion among the participants and with Sr. Gabriella.

The next round of group sharing was organized by geographical regions. Each regional group, and the group of the two General Councils, discussed and proposed a Common Action Plan, which was shared in a full plenary session.
It emerged that there is a strong conviction and a common commitment to become more involved in advocacy, protection, prevention and networking activities against human trafficking. M.AFR and MSOLA can do a lot together, especially during the preparation of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Lavigerie Family.

André Schaminée, Secretary General, M.Afr.

Apologies for late publishing of this posts. (Webmaster)

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Meeting MAfr MSOLA on Human Trafficking

This meeting reaffirmed our common conviction that we must commit ourselves against human trafficking by supporting the activities of advocacy, protection, prevention and networking. Here is the statement at the end of the meeting :

Wednesday, the 15th February 2017, was a historic day in the history of the Lavigerie Family. It brought together the General Councils of the Missionaries of Africa (M.Afr.) and the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA), the Provincial and Section Superiors of the M.Afr. and leaders of the five MSOLA Entities.

One major topic was on the Agenda: Human trafficking and related issues. This topic has great importance to both institutes because it is closely linked to the Anti-Slavery campaign of our common Founder, Cardinal Lavigerie. It has also been selected as a prime concern for both Institutes: The M.Afr. Chapter of 2016 chose migrants and human trafficking as a main area of concern. The MSOLA, in their enlarged Council, also selected this topic as one of their four priorities.

The day started with a conference given by Sr. Gabriella Bottani (SCM), coordinator of “Talitha Kum.” She first gave the historical background of the “Talitha Kum” group, which is an international network of people in Consecrated Life working against trafficking in persons (www.talithakum.info).
Most trafficking of people takes place within the country itself or in neighbouring countries. Trafficking of people on at transnational or intercontinental level is very small in comparison.

The speaker identified various forms of trafficking and slavery: domestic servitude; forced labour; organ removal (sometimes for reasons of witchcraft); criminal acts (e.g. child soldiers & drugs smuggling); begging; forced marriage and sexual exploitation (e.g. prostitution and cyber-sex).

After this introduction, the participants were divided into various groups, each of which was given one of the following topics to discuss: Advocacy; Protection; Prevention and Networking. The groups were invited to answer the following questions, what are the challenges? what are the calls? The different groups reported back and this led to an enriching discussion among the participants and with Sr. Gabriella.

The next round of group sharing was organized by geographical regions. Each regional group, and the group of the two General Councils, discussed and proposed a Common Action Plan, which was shared in a full plenary session.
It emerged that there is a strong conviction and a common commitment to become more involved in advocacy, protection, prevention and networking activities against human trafficking. M.AFR and MSOLA can do a lot together, especially during the preparation of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Lavigerie Family.

André Schaminée,
Secretary General, M.Afr.

VATICAN – The Pope: be strong in the fight against the scourge of human trafficking

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – After the general audience today, Pope Francis appealed to eradicate the scourge of trafficking, with these words: “Today we celebrate the Day of prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking, this year dedicated in particular to children and adolescents. I encourage all those who in various ways help minors who have been enslaved and abused to be freed from this terrible oppression. Continue reading “VATICAN – The Pope: be strong in the fight against the scourge of human trafficking”

International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking

Next Tuesday, the 8th February, we celebrate la fête de Sainte Bakhita, the patron saint of the trafficked persons. At this occasion is celebrated the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.

To organise a Vigil of Prayer at that occasion, please find material here :

And for more information, or some other languages, visit http://preghieracontrotratta.org/?lang=en

Particularities of the ECOWAS–EU Economic Partnership Agreement

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the West African region and the European Union (EU) has its legal framework in Cotonou Agreement (2000) to make it compatible with the guidelines given by the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO sought to standardize trade agreements at the global level and called for the repeal of any kind of unilateral preferences. Continue reading “Particularities of the ECOWAS–EU Economic Partnership Agreement”

The Impacts of Large Scale Farming in Tanzania

Land grabbing has become a recurring phenomenon in Africa but the situation in Tanzania is a disaster; from the northern part of the country where about 40,000 of the Maasai tribe were said to have been evicted from their ancestral land so that the Dubai Royal family can hunt, to the south where the SAGCOT program (Southern Agricultural Corridors of Tanzania) of G8/NEW Alliance has driven thousands of families into penury. In December 2015, the AEFJN Secretariat took a fact-finding mission to Tanzania. Some of the journeys took as long as 17 hours but it gave the staff good first-hand experience of the disaster of land grabbing in Tanzania. This documentary studies just the tip of the iceberg of land grabbing in Africa.

Read more on AEFJN website and watch the video

Looking at the Other Side of the Story in 2017

There is a human tendency to look for solutions to problems in a manner that draws attention but never solves the problems. It is a deliberate scheme to deny the truth. Truth unsettles us because it challenges our illusions, the falsely-founded privileges we cling to and the mental constructs that serve our selfish ends. Unfortunately, the shadows of repressed truth never sleep. Can Africa tell her story? Yes, of course! But that is made very difficult by the current economic configurations of the world and the ingrained but selfish desire of ‘powerful nations’ and conglomerates to perpetuate the status quo. How would a man under the rubble of fallen house get up to fight the men who designed and built the house with substandard material in order to make more profit? It is not so much the story of the man under the rubble of a fallen house as that of the man who compromised the standards.

Read more of the AEFJN website