Approximately 60 people gathered at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Macon, GA on Saturday, November 3 for a workshop on Human Trafficking sponsored by the Daughters of Charity and members of the local Vincentian Family. Based upon the ultimate Vincentian question that arises whenever there is human suffering, “What must be done?” this gathering was entitled: The Fight Against Human Trafficking – What Must I Do?
The four morning presenters painted a global, national, state and local perspective on the issue, including the experience of a local survivor of human trafficking who shared her story with the group. Participants shared their thoughts over a bountiful lunch. The afternoon speakers formed a panel that represented six local agencies. These participants spoke about the role that their respective organizations play in dealing with the issue. These representatives included:
- A group of University students who work with high school students to raise awareness of the issue and build trust which enables them to be made aware of persons who may be in vulnerable situations
- A group that provides safe housing and services to victims of trafficking
- The Sheriff’s Office and their efforts to portray those trafficked as victims rather than prostitutes who should be arrested
- A group that provides mental health support and therapy to victims
The participants were informed about some of the signs of human trafficking; what to do and what not to do in situations where human trafficking is suspected; what laws are in place and what laws need to be advanced in order to protect vulnerable individuals. Participants included not only men and women from the local area but also individuals from as far away as Savannah, Georgia. The editor of the Savannah diocesan Catholic paper was present at this event and will write an article about the workshop … thus educating more people about this tragedy of human trafficking.
The day concluded with the group praying together the Prayer for an End to Human Trafficking and were given a prayer card depicting St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of kidnapped and trafficked persons.
Sister Elyse Staab, DC
Province of St. Louise – USA