Bakhita Project workshop on human-trafficking

Due to the civil unrest that recently erupted in Manzini with the killing of two policemen and following the advice of the Bishop of Manzini, bishop José Ponce de Leon, the Bakhita Project Workshop planned to take place in eSwatini was transferred to Lumko Retreat Centre, South Africa.

Organised by Dr Maria Lia Zervino, President General of WUCWO (World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations), and facilitated by Stefano Volpicelli, the workshop on human-trafficking meant for WUCWO and Talithakum leaders in Africa started on 14th November to end on 18 November 2022.

The participants at the workshop where from South Africa, Malawi, and eSwatini. Part of the workshop was dedicated to sharing by participants regarding the incidents (in their respective countries) of human trafficking, the mainly affected areas (rural, urban), the populations involved (locals, migrants) and their vulnerabilities, the direction (country of origin, transit, destination, or both), the Recruitment strategies, the typologies of exploitation.

They were also expected to share on what was implemented in the first season of the Bakhita Project (investigations, preventative and support activities, the relationship established with other agencies within project members and in the outer world), what still exist, and what has been erased.

The South African group said that since the first session of Bakhita Project they ran awareness campaigns in parishes, schools, and they also involved police officers. Roadshows were also conducted with truck drivers. Training of Trainers workshops were also done to help others understand what human trafficking is and its connection to prostitution. The South African group also focused on the youth with their campaign Youth Without Chains which also focused on mental well-being support. St Bakhita day was also celebrated, and prayer cards were distributed.

The group from us with any on their post-covid activities of Bakhita Project. But during covid-19 lockdowns they created awareness through their different Media programmes. They also visited some Catholic schools between the lockdowns in 2021. Post covid restrictions they embarked on sensitisation programme at the Catholic Youth empowerment and skills development day. The eSwatini group even managed to take the anti-human trafficking campaign to the Manzini taxi rank. They also held different workshops and meetings with the government to the collaboration. One of the Workshops was organised by the international organisation of migration. The eSwatini Bakhita Project proposes a continuation with sensitization, within the church, schools, planned communities. They are planning to have a mass awareness campaign to be held next year on one of the identified hotspots, and they plan to strengthen the collaboration with Malawi and South Africa.

The Malawian group sad Malawi is generally a transit destination for those trafficked outside Malawi, but also experiences internal exploitation within. Many trafficked from Malawi taken to south Africa, Zambia, and Mozambique, and victims include women, girls, and young people. The group from Malawi said some of the courses human trafficking are poverty, food insecurity, cultural practices, poor law enforcement, and covid-19 made the human trafficking situation worse.

In Malawi to combat human trafficking, among other things, they are doing orientation and capacity building of faith leaders on human trafficking. They are also engaged in media advocacy campaigns using Catholic Media houses. They also engage with police and judicial officers on trafficking related laws. Part of their program is there orientation of the youth Catholic structures on human trafficking and human rights. Going forward, to mention a few things planned, they are planning to have a domestic collaboration religious mother bodies. They also planning to have an effective collaboration and nation partners in South Africa, eSwatini and destination countries. They are burning through train Catholic journalist on human trafficking and effective reporting.

At the current workshop the whole group has also discussed at length they will go about advocating and lobbying all the stakeholders and role players in their campaign to combat human trafficking.

In general the atmosphere of the workshop was meant to be that of mental openness, flexibility and creativity, in a series of interactive activities, including exercise, games, role plays and group discussions.

Mr. Stefano Volpicelli, Sociologist is an expert in research, analysis, communication and capacity-building interventions in the reception, protection and care of people in vulnerable situations, including irregular and forced migrants, and asylum seekers.



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