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Caldwell Dominicans Work with Area Churches Against Human Trafficking

Joanne Marie Aumund, SCC

CALDWELL,  NJ: “If you think it’s not happening in a neighborhood near you, you’re probably wrong.”  Aware that New Jersey, especially the city of Newark, is a hub for illegal human trafficking, the Caldwell Dominican Commission on Global Issues (CGI) acts to “Rescue and Restore” victims of this 21st century slavery.  International human trafficking is the global practice of transporting persons from one country to another for purposes of sexual or economic exploitation. Its power base is lies, false promises, and domination of vulnerable and often poor human persons.

CGI collaborates with Catholic Charities in the Newark Archdiocese to provide education about and action of behalf of women and girls who are victims of international human trafficking. The Commission recently hosted a workshop to expose the reality and the horror of trafficking in Essex County and throughout our entire state.  Approximately 25 members of the West Essex Ministerial Group and members of local Catholic, Christian and Jewish faith groups gathered in the Dominican Motherhouse in Caldwell for lunch and a presentation by Sister Joann Marie Aumand, SCC.  Sister Joann Marie is a member of the Sisters of Christian Charity of Mendham, NJ and serves as Program Manager for Catholic Charities Newark-based Office for Immigration, Refugees and Human Trafficking. 

Members of the West Essex Ministerial Group and local congregations hear the facts and figures of the global crime of Human Trafficking.

Sister’s presentation included photos of some of the 51 women and children who have been rescued through the Newark-based office and she shared some individual stories of the victims’ experiences. Her PowerPoint presentation exposing the facts and figures of the extent of this global evil evoked strong emotional reactions and commitments to joint action by the assembled ministerial teams to raise awareness and to curb the practice of human trafficking – especially within our local region.  “I didn’t know this was going on right here in my town” and “This is criminal and needs to be stopped NOW!” were two loud comments that captured the spirit of new awareness and resolute commitment among the assembled ministers and parishioners.

Seniors from Mount Saint Dominic Academy help Peggy Ryan, OP (Caldwell) to sort and pack supplies for trafficked women and children.

In a concrete action to aid trafficked persons and to raise awareness of this evil present in our own backyards, CGI coordinated a local collection of toiletries, towels, nightgowns and phone cards for the women and children who have been rescued from local traffickers.  Seniors from Mount Saint Dominic Academy helped to sort and package the donated items.

The Dominican Commission on Global Issues has a long history of action in the arena of international migration which includes the dual prong crisis of immigration and human trafficking.  Members of CGI - working with members of the First Friends Organization - provide direct material assistance to persons seeking political asylum in the US.  These persons are warehoused in Elizabeth, NJ in conditions that parallel maximum security prisons with little or no access to personal privacy or family contact.  Now, joining forces with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark, the members of Dominican CGI commit themselves to expand their work in the arena of Migration by providing local education and promoting raised awareness of the evil of human trafficking in our state.  Members of CGI and other concerned persons are also offering personal assistance to trafficked women and children by serving as tutors, mentors, companions.  For more information, contact dominicans@caldwellop.org

source: Peggy Ryan, OP

Related Links

Dominican efforts on human trafficking in the Call to Justice

Rescue and Restore Campaign

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