Human trafficking is a devastating reality in nearly every country around the world. Over the past several decades, numerous organizations have stepped up to educate people about the dangers of human trafficking and to combat this atrocity.
On February 22, 2020, the Comboni Missionaries in Cincinnati, Ohio hosted a special dinner to educate people about human trafficking at home and abroad.
Our first speaker was Comboni Missions magazine editor Katie Carroll who talked about Talitha Kum, a worldwide network of more than two thousand Catholic nuns working on the front lines to end human trafficking.
In just ten years of existence, Talitha Kum has reached thousands of people through anti-trafficking awareness campaigns, education programs, international conferences, training manuals, and vocational training. This dedicated network has served more than ten thousand survivors, accompanying them to shelters and residential communities, collaborating nationally and internationally on cases, and assisting with voluntary repatriation. Talitha Kum has provided training to women religious in sixty-five countries on human trafficking prevention and protection.
Every year the US State Department produces a Trafficking-in-Persons (TIP) Report, assessing efforts by world governments to combat human trafficking. Along with this report, the Department of State honors individuals who have distinguished themselves in service of the same goal. In 2019 Comboni Missionary Sister Sister Gabriella Botani, international coordinator for Talitha Kum, received this honor for a lifetime of dedication to fighting human trafficking. As international coordinator Sister Gabriella oversees anti-trafficking initiatives in seventy-seven countries around the world.
During her recognition Sister Gabriella offered some background on her organization, saying, “With 50 national and regional networks led by sisters, Talitha Kum is active on every continent and in 77 countries.” It is “an on-the ground network . . . involved in raising awareness, preventing human trafficking, and protecting survivors. This includes the management of shelters and the provision of support tor their socio-economic rehabilitation and reintegration.”
Our second speaker for the evening was Samantha Searls with the Intercommunity Justice & Peace Center (IJPC) in Cincinnati, Ohio. At IJPC, Samantha’s education and advocacy work focuses on breaking down the unjust systems of human trafficking and immigration.
During her presentation, Samantha clarified what human trafficking actually looks like in the United States. She highlighted systemic problems that allow trafficking to flourish. Since 2007, more than 40,000 cases of potential human trafficking were reported and found in all 50 states, D.C. and U.S. territories. Ohio is ranked 5th in the country for the number of cases that are reported each year. IJPC is working to create more modern day abolitionists through its education and advocacy programs.
According to its website “IJPC works to bring visibility to the issue of human trafficking by educating young people, elected officials and the general public about the realities and needs of trafficked people in order to create systemic change. We work so that individuals can educate themselves and others about the identification and prevention of human trafficking and advocate for victims. We administer community presentations that integrate facts, stories, and ways that individuals can take action.”
At the end of the evening, guests were given a ribbon on which were written the initials of a person who escaped human trafficking. Guests were encouraged to use this ribbon as a reminder to pray for victims of trafficking.