Maryknoll Sisters & Human Trafficking

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion on an innocent human to receive labor or sexual activity. The traffickers use a variety of tactics to lure their victims and force them to be exploited. Some of the most common examples of human trafficking are those being forced into sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced marriage, child soldiers, labor exploitation, forced criminality, and organ harvesting. 

human trafficking maryknoll sisters

The victims of human trafficking are usually the most vulnerable members of the population, and often have no one to help them, advocate for them, or pray for them.

What is Maryknoll Sisters doing about Human Trafficking?

The Maryknoll Sisters have long been working to eliminate human trafficking and all other forms of discrimination and violence. We’re especially devoted to helping out vulnerable girls and women, who make up the largest population of human trafficking victims.

Our Sisters have made eliminating human trafficking a key mission by: 

            • Standing up and running a crisis center.
            • Creating not only a training institution with many classes and educational programs.
            • Providing shelter for women and children who have had their lives affected by human trafficking
            • Educating the general public to notice signs of human trafficking.

Several of our Sisters on Mission in developing countries are working to stop human trafficking, and to help the victims who have had their lives destroyed by it.

Make A Difference

Sister Story: Human Trafficking in Cambodia

Sister Helene with two young women from the center who are receiving job training.

For many years now, Maryknoll Sister Helene O’Sullivan has been working with trafficked women and adolescents to help them break free from traffickers and other abusive and violent situations, such as rape and domestic violence.

Sister Helene runs the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center and founded the Horizons Vocational Training Institute. 

Victims can find shelter, medical care, counseling and legal assistance at the Crisis Center, where Sister Helene also encourages and empowers victims to begin new lives.

The Training Institute helps girls and women rescued from human trafficking make new lives for themselves by providing them with basic education and intensive job training. Sister Helene continues to network with different NGOs working to combat trafficking and promote advocacy.


Why is this Specialized Vocational Training Needed?

Many of the young women who are rescued from trafficking, have only received a few years of elementary school education and lack the general knowledge and critical thinking skills that would enable them to go on for higher-level skilled training or jobs.

Through the vocational training program, the girls study grades 7-9 in a special six-month program. They’re trained to use computers, taught English, and receive other general education for six more months. The final phase of the program is hotel school. The women who graduate are placed in jobs at hotels working front office, housekeeping, cooking, and more.

Sister Helene has found that helping these women create options for themselves is one of the most important things she can do to assist them.

“Creating options together brings hope, and hope heralds the coming of the reign of God.”

Sister Story: Know the Signs of Human Traffickers

Sister Doreen Longres, M.M. has been serving in Peru for over 50 years. She is part of a network that educates people about the tricks and tactics used by human traffickers. In order to limit human trafficking, people need to be able to recognize the signs traffickers use to force someone to obey them.

Human trafficking behaviors can go completely unnoticed, so Sister Doreen gives talks about how women and children get caught. She teaches people to recognize the signs, such as offering gifts like a phone, better shoes, or clothing, which the traffickers then use against the victims to control them. 

By educating people on tactics of traffickers, she helps limit the chance a woman or child will get caught up in a human trafficking operation.

How You Can Help

With your financial support, the Maryknoll Sisters will be able to do the following:

  • Provide Vocational Training to give these victims a new life.
  • Provide social, medical and psychological support to victims of human trafficking.
  • Give food supplements to the victim and their families
  • Purchase school supplies and uniform for women to use during vocational training and beyond.
  • Continue the efforts to educate about the tactics traffickers use.

Pray With Us

A Prayer for those affected by Human Trafficking

Through prayer, we not only reflect on the experiences of those that have suffered through this disrespect to human dignity, but also to comfort, strengthen, and help empower survivors.

“O God, when we hear of children and adults deceived and taken to unknown places for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor, and organ “harvesting” our hearts are saddened and our spirits angry that their dignity and rights are ignored through threats, lies, and force.

We cry out against the evil practice of this modern slavery, and pray with St. Bakhita for it to end.

Give us wisdom and courage to reach out and stand with those whose bodies, hearts, and spirits have been so wounded, so that together we may make real your promises to fill these sisters and brothers with a love that is tender and good. 

Send the exploiters away empty-handed to be converted from this wickedness, and help us all to claim the freedom that is your gift to your children, Amen.”