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.
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