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Report to MIA Working Group on Human Trafficking September 2016 (Americas)

September 23, 2016

I continue education and advocacy efforts within the West Midwest Community using an issue-specific e-list and community’s internal electronic newsletter (West Midwest Messenger). There are now 275 people on my e-list, representing WMW members, ministries, other religious communities, laypersons, associates, etc. It is an inclusive list.

In 2015, the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community (WMW) received a substantial Ministry and Mission Violence Prevention grant from Catholic Health Initiatives (the health system of which we are a part). The grant was renewed in 2016 with an increase of over $20,000. It is targeted for the prevention of the violence of human trafficking. It also provides a half salary for me. We are very grateful!

Besides me, there are five other WMW Sisters of Mercy in the western half of the U.S. who are addressing human trafficking through education, advocacy and direct services. Audiences include but are not limited to: students, faculty, staff, health care professionals, hotel management and staff, women religious, members of faith communities/parishes/congregations , colleagues and partners in ministry. We all belong to coalitions and work in partnership and collaboration with others. I have engaged in education at both the high school and university level – this year that reached over 500 students and faculty.

Another member of U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking and I are coordinating an exhibit and panel presentation and discussion at the National Catholic Education Association Annual Conference in April 2017. The topic of the panel is what educators need to know about human trafficking. The panel will include an educator, a theologian and a survivor. Conference attendees number over 2,000 so we anticipate a strong impact.

I continue to provide referrals and serve as a consultant to groups, coalitions, organizations and individuals; and I participate in webinars and conference calls provided by colleagues and partners.
In June, I attended the Nobel Peace Prize Forum which is the best conference in which I have participated in a very long time. The keynote speaker was Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi who over decades has rescued more than 35,000 children and provided safe shelter, training and education to them. All speakers were excellent.

I continue to serve as board member and Mercy representative to the U.S. Catholic Sisters against Human Trafficking, now a not for profit coalition whose membership consists of women religious from many communities or congregations as well as laypersons and collaborators. We have several working groups. I facilitate our educational resources working group and am a member of our legislative advocacy group. We have an annual board meeting and work groups meet by regular conference calls.

Messages to: Jeanne Christensen rsm