Named after St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese slave-turned nun, who was kidnapped at the age of 7, sold into slavery and given the name Bakhita, which ironically means fortunate one. Josephine was sold several times, brutally treated, and eventually met and joined the Canossian Daughters of Charity in 1893. At her canonization Mass in 2000, John Paul II said: “The history of her life inspires not passive acceptance but the firm resolve to work effectively to free girls and women from oppression and violence and to return them to their dignity in the full exercise of their rights.”
The aim of the Bakhita Initiative is to create a specific nationwide network of U.S. congregations of women religious connecting those involved in activities to end human trafficking. The website will make available a data base and a visual of cross country contacts that will serve to strengthen and unify efforts of U.S. congregations as they address this horrendous assault on the dignity of persons. A website listing for this network will allow members to:
- Expand resources by making available a state-to-state map of contacts and activities
- Encourage congregations to become involved with anti-trafficking efforts
- Offer support to congregations in states where there are few women religious and who may want to join a coalition near them
- Provide nationwide, intercommunity dialogue of ways to assist victims
- Explore possibilities for reaching out to multiple constituents thereby expanding educational outreach
It is only by working together and sharing resources that we can respond most effectively to the growing epidemic of human slavery. People need to understand that slavery still exists. It can best be fought by networking.