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What you can do to help victims of human trafficking

Students from the Archdiocese of Calcutta take part in a walk for peace against human trafficking (CNS photo/Piyal Adhikary, EPA)

Starting this Saturday, September 26th Fr Dominic Robinson, a Jesuit from Farm Street will lead a pilgrimage in Spain.  Fr Dominic and a group of parishioners from Farm Street will walk 100 miles of the Ignatian Camino for two intentions; firstly to do the Ignatian spiritual exercises and secondly to raise funds for the establishment of Bakhita House, which will be a home and help centre for victims of human trafficking. When it is up and running, Bakhita House will provide accommodation for as many as 14 people, psychotherapy, as well as legal and financial assistance.

It is a facility that is sorely needed; the Home Office estimates that there are between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of trafficking who are being used for forced labour, crime or sexual exploitation.  So that this refuge may come into existence, £360,000 has to be gathered.  Naming the house in honour of St Josephine Bakhita is most apt; she was abducted by slave traders when she was only 8. Bakhita was sold a number of times before she was bought by the Italian Vice Consul.  He took her to Italy where she was catechised by the Canossian Sisters. Deciding she would like to join them, Bakhita was baptised and entered the Canossian Sisters in 1893, where she stayed until her death in 1947. St Bakhita is the patron saint of victims of human trafficking.

Fr Dominic and his fellow pilgrims will walk about 15 miles a day. At times it will be a hard slog, trudging along the roads mile after mile, but Fr Dominic says, ‘it will be a time to give thanks for our own freedom that allows us to walk the Camino, coming to the harsh reality that so many people are not free and developing empathy with those who are trafficked.’

Fr Dominic and his fellow pilgrims will start their pilgrimage in Verdú, a village in Catalonia which was the birth place of St Peter Claver, who ministered to the slaves in the galleys. Aiming to walk 15 miles a day, they will be following in the spiritual footsteps of St Ignatius of Loyola.  At the Benedictine monastery in Montserrat, the pilgrims will pray before the Black Madonna and reflect on St Ignatius spending a whole night in prayer before Our Lady.  The final point of their pilgrimage is Manresa, where they will have Mass in the cave where St Ignatius did his most intense self-analysis and plumbed the depths of his soul.

If you would like to donate funds towards Bakhita House, you may go here and download the booklet that details many ways to contribute a donation.  Please be generous with your prayers, inviting the help of saints such as St Peter Claver, St Ignatius and most of all, St Bakhita.

You can donate HERE.