Praying to End Human Trafficking

By Diann L. Neu, Heureuse Kaj, and the WATERstaff

 Preparation

On a ritual table, place a prayer cloth, blue ribbons, fair-trade chocolate, a paper chain, and candles.

 Call to Gather

As part of human trafficking awareness month, we gather to unite with the world community in solidarity with victims and survivors of human trafficking.

          All: God of Compassion, be with us today.

We seek justice and healing for all people who are affected by human trafficking.

          All: Holy One of Healing, be with us today.

We gather to pray, reflect, and renounce this modern day slavery.

          All: Spirit of Justice, be with us today.

Naming Our Circle

Share your name and where you are geographically.

Song: Don’t Walk Away by Meg Ammons

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAhKtNdWisE

I was in the news today | A story back on page 16 | No photographs | No last names | They save that for the beauty queens

I’m a girl you’ve never met | A half a world away from you

And though I seem so different | I am someone’s daughter too

Aren’t we the same? | I bet I’m just as far away | And easy to forget

Don’t walk away | Don’t walk away | Don’t walk away from me

I have a face | I have a name | I have my hopes and dreams

I try and I try to hold on | But it’s hard to believe

That anyone notices | Anyone cares | When day after day

They walk away

I like to believe | That people are good | And they take to heart | The things they see

That if they thought they should | They would | They’d come for all the girls like me

Aren’t we the same? | I bet I’m just as far away | And easy to forget

Don’t walk away | Don’t walk away | Don’t walk away from me

I have a face | I have a name | I have my hopes and dreams

I try and I try to hold on | But it’s hard to believe

That anyone notices | Anyone cares | When day after day

They walk away

Don’t walk away (5x)

I’m a girl you’ve never met | It should be easy to forget me

Don’t walk away (5x)

Listen to the Stories

A’s Story told by Heureuse

Before I joined Wesley Theological Seminary, I worked as a young adult missionary at Help Asian Women’s Shelter that provides temporary and emergency housing, counseling, and rehabilitation to women and children survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. Among many women that I encountered was a 17 year old woman who came to the Help shelter after escaping exploitation from her adoptive mother. The young lady came from a poor African family, lost her father at the age of 2, and was adopted by a single mother at the age of six. She did not have a chance to go to school because she was used as a babysitter for her adoptive sister and brothers.

Some years later, her adoptive mother remarried, and the family moved to Japan. Arriving in Japan as a teen, she was hardly allowed to leave the house and was physically abused by her adoptive mother. At the age of 17, her adoptive mother started using her for commercial sex without her consent. Defenseless, she had no choice than to abide because when she refused, she was beaten and mistreated. She did this for 6 months until a friend of the family noticed and helped her to escape and she was brought to Help, the shelter where I was working. After this experience, my eyes were opened to the reality of human trafficking and I began to reflect on similar situations that were happening in my own community in the Congo but I did not notice.

           Response: “We hear your story. We’ll work to break your chains.” (Break paper chains)

Hagar’s Story adapted from Genesis 16-21

Hagar was an Egyptian slave-girl working for a rich man, Abraham, and his wife Sarah. After Sarah was unable to bear children she gave her servant, Hagar, to Abraham. Abraham raped Hagar, and she conceived a child. After becoming pregnant, Sarah grew jealous, abused Hagar, and threw her out of their home. An angel found Hagar wandering alone and blessed her child, who would be called Ishmael, which means “God hears.”

Hagar returned to the house of Abraham. 14 years later when Sarah bore a son, she forced Hagar and Ishmael to leave their house once again. Returning to exile, God heard their cry and an angel called to Hagar saying “Do not be afraid,” and reminded Hagar of God’s blessing and provided a spring of water. They survived, and Ishmael sired a great nation as God promised. The story of Hagar and Ishmael is the story of thousands of women and children today caught in cycles of trafficking, rape, abuse, and exploitation.

          Response: “We hear your story. We’ll work to break your chains.” (Break paper chains)

Kolab’s Story adapted from Equality Now https://www.equalitynow.org/campaigns/trafficking-survivor-stories

 Kolab’s parents sold her for 1,000 dollars as a baby. Later on, her “foster parents” sent her to work as a servant in the city. She was raped by her employer and after escaping got trapped by two men and forced into drug dealing and brothel work. When she didn’t comply with the man in charge of the brothel, she was tortured. Eventually the police shut down the brothel and she found a program to offer her training as a hairdresser.

          Response: “We hear your story. We’ll work to break your chains.”(Break paper chains)

 Tina’s Story adapted from Courtney’s House
http://www.courtneyshouse.org/

Courtney’s House in Washington DC was founded in 2008 by Tina Frundt. A survivor of domestic sex trafficking herself, Tina is relentless in her fight to protect children from sexual exploitation and the devastation that comes from it. Courtney’s House helps underage survivors of sex trafficking to recover and re-enter society. They work with survivors, and train community members and law enforcement to recognize and help trafficked youth.

          Response: “We hear your story. We’ll work to break your chains.” (Break paper chains)

Josephine’s Story adapted from Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange
http://csjorange.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/2018-Human-Trafficking-Calendar-and-Flyer.pdf

St. Josephine Bakhita was born in southern Sudan in 1869. As a young girl, she was kidnapped and sold into slavery. She was treated brutally by her captors as she was sold and resold. She did not remember her name; Bakhita, which means “fortunate one,” was the name given to her by her kidnappers. She became a Canossian Religious Sister in Italy, living and working there for 45 years. In 2000 she was declared a saint by the Catholic Church.

          Response: “We hear your story. We’ll work to break your chains.” (Break paper chains)

Song: We Shall Overcome, Civil Rights anthem

*We shall overcome, (3x) some day.
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe
We shall overcome, someday.

*We are not afraid… We will break these chains… We shall all be free.

Reflection | Discussion

Where do we go from here? So what can you do?

Intercessory Prayers adapted from Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange
http://csjorange.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/2018-Human-Trafficking-Calendar-and-Flyer.pdf

For the freedom of the millions of victims trapped in commercial sex, forced labor, and forced marriage worldwide.

        Response: We pray.

For children around the world who are violently abducted and forced to be
child soldiers.

        Response: We pray.

For the end of violence against women and respect of their human dignity.

        Response: We pray.

For the success of the awareness campaign to discourage all people from buying sex.

        Response: We pray.

For those who are forced to work in dangerous mines digging for minerals used in
our electronics.

        Response: We pray.

For children who are stolen from their parents and used for the harvesting of
organs worldwide.

        Response: We pray.

For the young girls forced into prostitution at truck stops and at the super bowl.

        Response: We pray.

For homeless, runaway youth, and foster children who are dangerously targeted
by traffickers.

        Response: We pray.

Against those who recruit, obtain, move, or purchase humans, especially children, through the use of fraud, coercion, force, manipulation, or any means of exploitation.

        Response: We pray.

For strength, hope, and wholeness for those who have been rescued.

         Response: We pray.

For the leaders, lawmakers, activists, and all who work day and night to free the enslaved.

          Response: We pray.

For those who have died while enslaved, and the children left behind.

          Response: We pray.

For those who are trafficked and remain in bondage.

          Response: We pray.

Blessing Chocolate

Blessed are you, God of Compassion, Holy One of Healing, Spirit of Justice, for giving us this chocolate as a reminder that even in the midst of bitterness, life has sweetness.

This fair trade chocolate was farmed in a socially responsible and ethical manner. As we eat this chocolate, we are reminded that we too are called to be socially responsible and ethical consumers. We are called to end an economic system that encourages human trafficking. As we eat, let us remember the victims and survivors of human trafficking.

Sending Forth

The blue ribbon symbolizes human trafficking awareness. Let us show our solidarity and commitment by exchanging blue ribbons with one another.

Song: There is More Love Somewhere by Bernice Johnson Reagon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qbqceIK9nc

There is *more love somewhere,

There is *more love somewhere,

I’m gonna keep on till I find it,

There is more love somewhere.

Repeat using *more peace, happiness, more joy

Take Action

The STOP APP

­The STOP APP is the first app of its kind to combine community empowerment, big data management and anti-trafficking expertise to disrupt and prevent human trafficking. All information inputted to the STOP APP is fed directly into the Centre for Intelligence-Led Prevention (CfILP), where it is analyzed alongside global data on human trafficking and modern slavery. This data is used to build intelligence on global trends and hotspots of human trafficking, which enables us to disrupt, prevent and predict this criminal activity. More information can be found at https://www.stopthetraffik.org.

Traffick Cam App

TraffickCam enables you to help combat sex trafficking by uploading photos of the hotel rooms you stay in when you travel. Traffickers regularly post photographs of their victims posed in hotel rooms for online advertisements. The purpose of TraffickCam is to create a database of hotel room images that an investigator can efficiently search, in order to find other images that were taken in the same location as an image that is part of an investigation.

Courtney’s House

http://www.courtneyshouse.org

Courtney’s house is a local nonprofit that fearlessly searches for children who are being forced into prostitution, embraces the survivors and brings them into a safe environment where they and their families can heal, recover and develop hopeful, dignified and influential lives, trains community officials, and creates awareness. Information on volunteering, internships, and donating can be found at www.courtneyshouse.org

Blue Heart Campaign

The Blue Heart Campaign against Human Trafficking works to raise awareness of the plight of victims and to build political support to fight the criminals behind trafficking. Wear a blue heart in solidarity, or donate to the cause: http://www.unodc.org/blueheart/en/-get-involved-donate-now.html

Fair Girls

FAIR Girls (formerly FAIR Fund) prevents the exploitation of girls worldwide with empowerment and education. Through prevention education, compassionate care, and survivor inclusive advocacy, FAIR Girls creates opportunities for girls to become confident, happy, healthy young women. Find more information on donating or volunteering at http://www.fairgirls.org

InterCommunity Peace & Justice Center

Raise awareness by participating in vigils, or use their toolkit to create your own vigil: https://ipjc.org/human-trafficking/

More Information:

Human Trafficking Enactment Database:

http://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and-criminal-justice/human-trafficking-enactment-database.aspx

National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1 (888) 373-7888

Recognize the Signs: https://polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/recognize-signs

http://hagarusa.org/about/hagars-story/

© 2017 Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER). Planned by Diann L. Neu dneu@hers.com, Heureuse Kaj heureuse@waterwomensalliance.org, Clarafrancie Comer-Sowers cromerclarafrancie@gmail.com, Hannah Dorfman hannah@waterwomensalliance.org, Janaya Sachs janaya@waterwomensalliance.org, Rachel Beaver rachel@waterwomensalliance.org.