Every year millions of people fall victim to the evil of human trafficking. Most are women, however, this abomination affects children and men as well. Labor exploitation is the main issue in Japan. There are those who relocate for the promise of jobs and stability, but find themselves in unsafe and exploitative situations.
For many of them, this life seems inescapable. But with your support, we can provide hope and help.
Sister Abby Avelino established a regional Talitha Kum network in Japan. The name, roughly translated from Aramaic, means “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” It is an international network to combat human trafficking and is operated by the International Union of Major Superiors of Women (UISG), which is based in Rome. There are many migrant workers in Japan from Southeast Asia—many of them women—and Sister Abby was already ministering to them. The opportunity to build a larger regional network to address the terrible problem of human trafficking was important to her.
“My ministry is mainly with migrants, women and children in Japan, and migrants are very vulnerable when it comes to trafficking, sexual exploitation and labor exploitation”, Sister Abby explains. “Most of our cases need legal help, after they have run away from the company that is exploiting them for labor or from the people who are subjecting them to sexual exploitation. They’ll come to us to seek help, especially for shelter, accompaniment, support, counseling, legal and financial assistance.”
Sister Abby’s work is difficult and often risky. “There was one Vietnamese woman who was a victim of human trafficking. She knew only a little Japanese and no English. It was a risk to help her because there is organized crime in Japan which is active in human trafficking, and we didn’t know this woman’s background situation.” But with its high profile and visibility, Talitha Kum has been able to make these situations less dangerous. Less fear of retribution means trafficked women are more likely to seek help, and that help will be easier to provide.
Your generosity can help Sister Abby and other Maryknoll Sisters provide much needed support in a variety of forms. Sister Abby says that she uses some of the money that’s donated to provide activities for children, some of whom were exploited themselves and some of whom have mothers who were.
She says, “For our donors, I am very grateful for whatever they provide for us to continue our mission wherever we are. Because right now, the world is getting smaller.”