Rome (Italy). On 8 February 2023, on the liturgical memory of Saint Josephine Bakhita, a nun from Sudan who as a child was a victim of trafficking and, canonized in 2000, has become a universal symbol of her commitment against slavery, we celebrate the ninth World Day of Prayer and reflection against human trafficking.

“Walk for dignity” is the theme for this edition of the Day, conceived by an international group of 10 young representatives of the partner organizations and 4 young communication experts, who motivate the choice as follows:

“During the year 2022, we have experienced important changes and the worsening of crisis situations. In this context, people suffering from the violence of human trafficking and groups at risk have increased. The causes can be traced back to the exploitation of vulnerabilities caused by instability due to armed conflicts, generalized violence, climate-environmental and economic crises. Those who try to flee in search of safety or work find themselves left alone, with insufficient laws that protect migrants, who find themselves more easily entangled in the webs woven by people traffickers. In addition, traffickers have increased the use of information technology for recruitment and exploitation, luring victims on social networks and spreading fake job advertisements on the internet. In this context we are called to keep hope alive, and the values that guide our being and acting.”

“Guarding the dignity of every person is only possible if we know how to safeguard peace and the natural environment”, said Sr. Abby Avelino, MM, coordinator of the day.

The initiatives

The commitment of young people is also at the center of the week of initiatives in which, for the first time since its establishment – commissioned by Pope Francis who, in 2015, encouraged the International Unions of Superiors General (UISG and USG) to promote it – 15 young representatives of the Day’s network, coming from all continents are present in Rome for a week of meetings and formation on trafficking in human beings. At the end of the week, the group will launch an appeal which will start the preparation process for the 10th anniversary of the Day.

The week opens on Monday 6 February with an Ecumenical Vigil in English and Italian, at 7.15 pm (Italian time) in the Parish of Santa Lucia, in the Prati district of Rome.

On 8 February, the feast of Saint Bakhita, from 9:30 to 16:30 (CET), there will be a Pilgrimage of prayer online which, crossing the different time zones, will involve all the continents. The event will be streamed live in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian.

The participants in the online pilgrimage are the expression of over 30 Countries from all continents, all united against trafficking. The central moment is entrusted to young people and, as has happened in recent years, there will be a Message from Pope Francis.

On 10 February at 3.30 pm, in Rome, in via della Conciliazione, the dance group “Evolution Company of the Holy Dance” and the group of young international representatives will give life to a flash-mob against trafficking.

The week ends on Sunday 12 February, with the participation in the Angelus prayer with the Pope, in St. Peter’s Square.

The initiative is coordinated by Talitha Kum, the international anti-trafficking network that has more than 3,000 Sisters, friends, and partners, promoted by the Unions of Superiors and Superiors General, in partnership with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the Dicastery of Communication, the Worldwide Prayer Network of the Pope, and many other organizations, associations, and congregations around the world. The Day has the support of the Global Solidarity Fund.

The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians has been part of the Talitha Kum Network since its inception in 2009, and contributes to it by participating in the International Commission which coordinates the regional networks, through the exchange of information and the deepening of reflections. The educational-pastoral commitment of the FMA Institute is accomplished through care, with presences in the Educating Communities of all the continents that carry out prevention and reception of children, young people, and women victims of trafficking, and socio-economic action, through support and promotion initiatives in the various contexts.

On the Website you can find the program of the prayer marathon, the prayer of Pope Francis, the Prayer Vigil 2023, the PDFs with insights on the theme and some video testimonials.

The organizers invite you to dedicate a tweet on February 8, using the official hashtag #PrayAgainstTrafficking.


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