WORLD DAY AGAINST TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS: Salesian Missions highlights programs that educate youth to decrease risk of trafficking
Salesian missionaries in more than 130 countries work both to prevent human trafficking and to care for victims.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (July 30, 2022) 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 about the victims of human trafficking and promote and protect their rights.
This year’s theme “Use and abuse of technology” focuses on the role that technology plays in enabling and impeding human trafficking. Technology both acts as a mechanism for traffickers to recruit, exploit and control victims, and organize their trafficking efforts, but technology is also important for law enforcement in aiding investigations and enhancing prosecutions.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) notes, “With the global expansion in the use of technology — intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift of our everyday life to online platforms — the crime of human trafficking has conquered cyber space. The internet and digital platforms offer traffickers numerous tools to recruit, exploit, and control victims; organize their transport and accommodation; advertise victims and reach out to potential clients; communicate among perpetrators; and hide criminal proceeds — and all that with greater speed, cost-effectiveness and anonymity. Moreover, technology allows these criminals to operate internationally across jurisdictions and evade detection with greater ease.”
Salesian missionaries who operate in more than 130 countries around the globe work both to prevent human trafficking and to care for victims who are living on the streets and seeking a second chance in life.
“Salesian missionaries around the globe provide programs and services to help youth lead healthier productive lives and to ensure their safety,” says Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Part of the focus of Salesian missionaries in many countries is educating youth about the dangers associated with migration, which can put them at risk of trafficking 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 2022, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight programs around the globe that provide life-changing education, prevention and awareness.
Salesian missionaries are working to develop more supportive services for people in Cobija, Bolivia. The area has seen continued growth and has nearly 70,000 people. The growth is the result of migration from areas like La Paz, Oruro and Cochabamba, as well as from the neighboring department of Beni. There is also migration from local Indigenous communities.
Salesians face challenges in the area, including low economic levels and a mediocre educational system.
Salesian missionaries are already providing programs and services for poor children and families in communities across Bolivia. In Santa Cruz de la Sierra, for example, the Don Bosco Project acts as a hub to help coordinate activities among several local Salesian-run programs including Hogar Don Bosco, Mano Amiga, Patio Don Bosco and Techo Pinardi. The Don Bosco Project provides comprehensive rehabilitation and vocational training programs that bring social inclusion and meaningful employment to its students.
Santa Cruz attracts youth who leave the difficult life of the rural highlands in search of new opportunities. The Don Bosco Project ensures these youth and others have access to emergency shelter, clothing and nutritious meals. Psychologists, social workers, health care staff and teachers work together to address the needs of almost 2,000 children who access primary and secondary schooling and vocational education.
Don Bosco Boys Town, located in Nairobi, Kenya, teaches technical skills to youth from economically and socially disadvantaged backgrounds. These youth, who live in informal settlements, have little chance for an education and advancement in life. Salesians are ensuring they are able to gain the skills for later employment.
Don Bosco Boys Town also provides education and technical skills training to former street children and offers a primary, secondary and technical school. Launched in 1985, Don Bosco Boys Town has provided education to more than 6,000 boys and girls.
The two-year technical training provides youth with a wide variety of skills training programs to choose from, including tailoring, car engineering/mechanics, carpentry, electrical work and welding, as well as secretarial skills and a full spectrum of computer-related job skills. After graduation, more than 80 percent of graduates are employed in their fields of study. Many students go on to attend university or establish their own businesses in Nairobi.
The “Stop Trafficking” campaign launched additional activities to promote development and reduce migration in East and West Africa. The project activities focused on youth in Senegal, Gambia and Guinea Bissau.
The project provided access to education through scholarships and work grants so that youth were prepared for employment in the current labor market. The project also provided kits to allow participants to start micro-enterprises in strategic sectors.
The project strengthened the existing formal and informal psycho-social care that young migrants receive when they return back to their home countries to help them reintegrate into their communities. It also provided them with the resources to connect to education and employment in their own countries to reduce the need for migration. Finally, the project raised awareness among youth about the risks of migration. The work was done through a series of radio campaigns and cultural events, including theatrical performances, film screenings and debates.
Don Bosco Fambul, one of Sierra Leone’s leading child-welfare organizations and located in Freetown, has been operating the Girls Os+ program, which provides support and recovery for underage girls who are victims of sexual violence and abuse and forced into prostitution. Since the program was launched five years ago, it has changed the lives of more than 600 girls and given them the opportunity to start a new life and access education.
The project began by accident when Father Jorge Crisafulli asked a group of underage girls forced to be prostitutes on the streets if they wanted to change their lives. He was able to create a new program inside an already thriving organization. Don Bosco Fambul has a staff of 120, including Salesian social workers who go out to the streets, slums and marketplaces. They engage with vulnerable youth and encourage them to join Don Bosco Fambul’s successful programs.
To support the Girls Os+ program, Don Bosco Fambul launched a therapeutic center with four large buildings, a clinic, accommodations for volunteers and social workers, a house for the Salesian community, and a chapel. It’s the only program of its kind in West Africa that enables girls to live in a safe environment to overcome their traumas and start a new life.
Salesian missionaries, professional social workers, and pastoral workers provide crisis intervention and follow-up care for girls and young women who have been victims of sexual assault. Girls that access services at the shelter are also able to attend educational programs that are a part of the broader Don Bosco Fambul network of programs. These educational programs give young women the skills necessary to find and retain employment.
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