WORLD DAY AGAINST TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS: Salesian Missions highlights programs that educate youth about human trafficking and help them find employment in their home countries
Programs in Colombia, Ghana, Italy and Senegal illustrate the work of Salesians around the globe that support efforts to prevent youth from falling victim to human trafficking.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (July 30, 2019) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in recognizing World Day against Trafficking in Persons. In 2013, United Nations member states adopted a resolution that designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The day aims to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”
This year, the theme for the day focuses on a call for government action. The UN notes, “Despite many countries having national trafficking laws in place which are in line with the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol, people continue to be trafficked. What is more, in many countries, victims may still be criminalized while the impunity of traffickers prevails.”
Since 2003, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has collected information on nearly 225,000 victims of trafficking detected worldwide and has released the 2018 UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. It states, “The vast majority of detected victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation and 35 percent of those trafficked for forced labor are female.”
Data also shows that trafficking happens all around the globe, affecting every country. Persons trafficked within their own country has doubled in recent years to 58 percent of all detected victims.
“Salesian missionaries around the globe provide programs and services that help youth lead healthier productive lives,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “Part of that work is educating youth about the dangers associated with migration and those who might wish them harm. One of the primary ways we support youth is understanding the needs of the local market and providing training programs that help youth find work in their own communities in employment sectors that are looking for skilled labor.”
To mark World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2019, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight programs around the globe that provide life-changing education and prevention and awareness programs.
Don Bosco City, located in Medellín, Colombia, is one of the oldest and largest programs for street children in Latin America. The organization has been working with youth for 52 years and has saved more than 1,300 of them from a life of violence. It is estimated that close to 6,000 minors continue to be utilized as child soldiers with thousands more having reached their 18th birthday after years of combat. The long rehabilitation process at Don Bosco City focuses on participants learning three key things—how to trust, how to have hope for the future and how to build relationships with others. Psychologists and teachers work together with the young participants, giving them the tools for a better future, including providing basic education and more advanced skills training that will lead to stable employment.
Since its start in 1965, Don Bosco City has rescued more than 83,000 boys and girls. Through its program, Salesian missionaries offer a multi-pronged approach designed to address the broad social issues that contribute to the poverty and exploitation these youth face while training them in the skills necessary to break the cycle of violence and poverty. Currently, there are 900 youth between the ages of 8 and 12 living and receiving education at the program.
Salesian missionaries operate two centers in the urban area of Accra, the capital and largest city of Ghana. One is a home for children and older youth who have been victims of child trafficking. Currently, the Salesian home has 51 children ranging in age from 7 to 16 years. Some of the children are known as “wheelbarrow boys” because they come from extremely poor families with many children and work pushing and carrying diverse materials with carts and wheelbarrows. Other children come from the gold and diamond mines where they are utilized for their small size and ability to move about easily in the mines.
Children face a variety of hardships from being exploited as child laborers to being sold by their relatives, often to pay off a debt. In the Lake Volta region, it is estimated that there are approximately 21,000 children and teen laborers who have been prevented from attending school.
Salesian missionaries have also launched the Child Protection Center. Children come to the Child Protection Center via referrals from other nonprofits and from the police, usually following a complaint. The center offers shelter, counseling and education to help children make the transition out of trafficking and into long-term recovery. Often arriving at the center injured, with low self-esteem and little hope for the future, many become comfortable and settled into their new surroundings within a few weeks.
Academic classes are offered in the morning after which students are able to participate in group activities with their peers such as theater, music, dance, sports and games. Through the program, participants learn life skills, gain confidence and prepare for a happy, healthy future.
The Salesian Stop Human Trafficking campaign was launched in October 2015 by Salesian missionaries in Italy and raises awareness of the dangers of youth migration. With a focus on youth leaving countries in Africa in search of a better life in Europe, the campaign aims to prevent young migrants from becoming victims of crime and exploitation. The campaign is part of an initiative promoted by the Salesian-run International Voluntary Service for Development (VIS) and the Don Bosco Mission Association in Turin, Italy.
By providing analysis and research on the real reasons for migration, the Stop Human Trafficking campaign informs potential youth migrants of the risks of the journey and the real chances of success while giving individual guidance to those who want to leave. It works to deter young people from leaving countries where they are most at risk of human trafficking such as Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and Senegal. In collaboration with Salesian missionaries in Africa, the campaign also raises funds to help with program development in targeted countries in Africa.
The project, which will span five years, is active in 14 Salesian programs in Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, Mali, Nigeria and Liberia. It launched with an awareness campaign to inform thousands of youth and their parents of the many risks of traveling to Europe and the difficulties they may encounter once they reach their destination.
Salesian missionaries operate an “Action to combat irregular migration through support of local development in the Tambacounda Region” project in Tambacounda, Senegal, a town of 80,000 people. This is part of the broader “Stop Human Trafficking” campaign Salesian missionaries are operating in several African countries.
In Tambacounda, there are few opportunities and prospects, especially for young people who represent the large majority of the Senegalese population and serve as a primary source of support for families. Many youth leave the area in search of opportunity but can fall victim to exploitation and trafficking.
The project is part of the initiative by VIS and the Don Bosco Mission Association in Turin, Italy, to develop projects and launch awareness campaigns to both stop and educate about the dangers of migration related to human trafficking.
By providing analysis and research on the real reasons for migration, informing potential youth migrants about the risks of the journey and the real chances of success, along with giving individual guidance to those who want to leave, the campaign is working to deter young people from leaving countries where people are most at risk of human trafficking.
The campaign has already found success in Senegal after research there has shown that nearly 40 percent of youth leaving the country are leaving in search of better educational opportunities. With that knowledge, funds now are being raised through the campaign to provide scholarships to students in Senegal so they are able to access educational opportunities within their own country.
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