In a world where violence forces thousands of families to flee for their lives each day, the time is now to show that the global public stands with refugees.
We are in the midst of the WORLD’S WORST refugee crisis in history. A crisis that brings with it overwhelming numbers, huge challenges for countries and communities affected, untold misery — and hope.
More than 65 million people are now counted as forcibly displaced by the United Nations. That’s like the entire population of the UK or France, or about as many as everyone in New York State, Texas and Florida — all forced from their homes. Just over one-third are refugees, people forced to flee their countries because of persecution, war, or violence. More than half of refugees are under 18 and more people are displaced every day – you could fill about 630 school buses with people forced from their homes every day! War is a major factor. More than half of refugees come from three war-torn countries — Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia, the UN says, while others flee famine or prosecution. Starvation is stalking millions in Africa in 2017. And in Myanmar, there are about 1 million Rohingyas — a persecuted ethnic and religious minority, who say they are being increasingly targeted and attacked.
Some take refuge in the first safe place they find. Others journey on, risking all, in the hopes of finding a better new life.
Right now, as you read this, traffickers are selling migrant men, women and children in make shift ‘slave markets’ all over the world. I’ve read that they are placed under a sign that reads “for sale”. First hand witnesses report them being sold for between $200 and $500 each.
Many times they are then held for ransom in mass prisons and detention centers often run by militias; or used as forced labor and for sexual exploitation. Survivors have spoken of their slave masters extracting ransoms from relatives, including beating and torturing their captives while on the phone to their families so they would hear them scream while being tortured. “People were tied up like goats, beaten with broom handles and pipes every day, to get money,” reported by the International Office on Migration.
What YOU Can Do
That asylum seekers may find hope and restoration from the despair and persecution from which they have fled; that Christians can celebrate unity in Christ while celebrating our differences in cultures and nationalities; that unaccompanied refugee children may be protected from all harm and reunited with loving families; for migrant workers, that they may work in safe and just conditions, and that we who benefit from their labor may be truly grateful for what they provide; for an end to the violence and poverty that displace so many of our sisters and brothers from their homes and homelands; for our political leaders, that they may implement policies that allow for safe migration and just migrant working conditions, and put an end to the detention of asylum seekers, while protecting our national safety.
- If you’ve got five minutes, call your representatives.
Currently, the United States Congress has proposed budget cuts that would reduce refugee assistance to the region by 20 percent and humanitarian relief by 15 percent. It’s critical to call your legislator – and this is especially true if your representative is against helping refugees and if she or he is already in support of refugees.
If she or he doesn’t support refugees, your call could help sway their opinion. And if she or he does support refugees, those calls bolster stances!
It’s really powerful for a senator or representative to be able to say, ‘I got 10,000 calls from constituents who are saying they want us to welcome refugees in this country.’
- If you’ve got a few hours a week, volunteer.
There are refugees already all around the United States trying to settle in to this country. Three million refugees have been resettled in America since the Refugee Act of 1980 was signed, according to Pew Research. About 85,000 people were admitted during the last fiscal year under President Barack Obama.
Resettlement agencies are always looking for volunteers. This ranges from everything from language training to handling logistics to just being some company. Find a local agency and see if there’s anything you can do.
If you need help finding an agency near you, try checking here for the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
- If you’ve got no time but some extra cash, donate.
DONATE TO CABRINI IMMIGRANT SERVICE CENTERS WHO ARE WORKING WITH IMMIGRANTS EVERY DAY! http://www.cis-nyc.org
- If you’ve got friends and neighbors, change their opinions.
All you have to do is talk to people you know and explain to them why you think refugees are people who deserve a chance at a peaceful life.
When people hear that attitude from people they’re familiar with, that’s really powerful. Those conversations can change minds better than news stories and essays.
This is vital if you live in a community where refugees are being settled. You can help to make sure they are fully welcome. Meanwhile, it can lead to an even bigger change. These conversations can be difficult, and you may not be able to change everybody’s minds. Be respectful in these talks — and knowing the stats and information always helps.
But that doesn’t mean you should stop speaking up and spreading awareness. Change often happens slowly. Have patience with it.
- If you’ve got no time, no money, but a lot of passion, then pay attention to the news.
Know what’s going on! It was people’s awareness of the news that led to the inspiring protests at airports around the country after Trump signed his (now-blocked) executive order against refugees. Awareness leads to mobilization, which can lead to change.
- 7. Sign the Pledge:The U.N. Refugee Agency is circulating a#WithRefugees petition, which asks that governments around the world ensure that every refugee child can get an education, that every refugee family has a place to live, and that every refugee can work or train for new skills. The petition will be delivered to the U.N. headquarters in New York in time for the U.N. General Assembly on September 19.
For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. The theme for National Migration Week 2017 draws attention to Pope Francis’ call to create a culture of encounter, and in doing so to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us. In the homily given at his first Pentecost as pope, he emphasized the importance of encounter in the Christian faith: “For me this word is very important. Encounter with others. Why? Because faith is an encounter with Jesus, and we must do what Jesus does: encounter others.”
With respect to migrants, too often in our contemporary culture we fail to encounter them as persons, and instead look at them as others. We do not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious of their intentions.
During this National Migration Week, let us all take the opportunity to engage migrants as children of God who are worthy of our attention and support.
~ from the USCCB website
To learn more and for further resources, please visit: http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week
Informed by his Franciscan Community of an important Lenten advocacy campaign for slave-free seafood, Fr. Edwin Robinson, OFM, Director of Pastoral Care at Cabrini of Westchester, was compelled to raise awareness. He shared the Lenten initiative led by the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT) with Patricia Krasnausky, President and CEO, and, together, they brought the campaign to the Cabrini community.
In honor of the Year of Mercy, Ms. Krasnausky ordered and distributed over 500 hundred pre-paid postcards addressed to two of the largest distributors of seafood: Costco and Starkist. The message on the postcards read: “Catholics want slave-free seafood this year, and will be vigilant about this as we observe Lent. We, therefore, kindly urge you to do all in your power to ensure that your supply chains are free of the taint of forced labor.”
Ms. Krasnausky had the postcards signed by many employees of Cabrini of Westchester as well as those in attendance of the Cabrini Day of Prayer, Restoration and Renewal held at Cabrini College. Many were stunned to learn that the United States imports 80-90% of its seafood, and tens of thousands of people are exploited at every link in the seafood harvesting and production chain.
As a result of Cabrini’s participation, we received the following feedback from CCOAHT. “Over 15,000 cards were mailed, which exceeded the goals of the campaign. As a result, the National Fisheries Institute contacted the US Bishops Conference and a meeting is scheduled to occur in May. This contact means that the mail campaign had an effect. The initial meeting is the first step in the effort re halting the human trafficking situation in shrimp and fish farming.”
Therefore, all the individuals who signed and mailed in postcards made a significant contribution to the campaign. Thank you, and God bless one and all!
When we hear the words human trafficking we think of the horrors foreign women and children go through in their countries. From rape, to torture, to prostitution, and even death. But what not many people are aware of is that human trafficking is a practice common not just in poorer countries but in wealthy countries like the U.S. Human trafficking is not just the dark and dingy picture portrayed in films. American children and young adults being forced into prostitution and into working for someone else’s profit is human trafficking. The King of Prussia Mall, located in suburban Philadelphia, and many other malls, and concerts and sporting events in the U.S. are playgrounds for traffickers. They target runaways and vulnerable young people.
Cabrini freshman, Christian Vazquez, had a basic understanding of human trafficking from learning about it at his high school, but he admits that he was not aware of how close to home this occurrence is. Because of the assumed “…tough laws…” that the U.S. has, many Americans like Christian have no idea that human trafficking is an international occurrence and not just another misfortune third world citizens have to endure.
Thankfully, the Cabrinian community continues spreading awareness on social justice issues and providing for those in need. The Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition is an MSC ministry that promulgates the MSC’s two corporate stances: to SUPPORT the rights and dignity of all immigrants and STOP human trafficking once and for all.
“The coalition was formed to do whatever we [could] to stop human trafficking,” current chairman, Karol Brewer explains. Karol began her work with the Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition many years ago, and because of her dedication to helping the most vulnerable, the MSCs asked her to chair this initiative.
Karol is also the founder of The Cabrini Closet, “a trendy Goodwill” — as I call it — which specializes in providing human trafficking victims with new and contemporary attire to better accommodate them in their transition into society once again. She began this work after forming a friendship with an FBI agent who worked solely with trafficking victims and hearing the stories of what these people go through. “We have to do something — we can do something!” Karol recalled telling herself. So she took matters into her own hands and thought: “Why not do this on our own?” And so, The Closet was created!
To further spread the word on The Closet and promote awareness as well as support for Human Trafficking and its victims, the Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition will be hosting a sale to raise funds for the cause. The sale will take place on Wednesday, March 16th in the College’s Grace Hall Atrium from 10:00 am-3:00 pm. (See flyer on page 6.) They will be selling designer purses, shoes, belts, and many more items, which were donated to The Closet by generous people from all over the country. These items will be sold at reasonable prices.
Karol has reached out to top designers to ask them to donate at least one of their bags. She has sent out about 15 requests to designers ranging from Michael Kors to Ralph Lauren and even Coach. She is still waiting for replies but is hoping at least one agrees. Being as though this is the first fundraiser the coalition has hosted, she expressed her nervousness for the turnout of the sale. But she was enthused about the Cabrini community and their support of the cause. Though she admits that it is a lot of work, Karol finds it all to be exceptionally “gratifying…[and] wonderful that [we] get to do this.”
All proceeds will go directly towards the Coalition to provide funds and gift cards for trafficking victims, and to Dawn’s Place, a shelter in Southeastern Pennsylvania for women who are victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse.
Dear Cabrini Friends,
We just received an emergency call from a Victim Assistance Specialist with Homeland Security. She is working with 4 young men from Honduras who are the victims of child sex tourism.
She said, “Because of their cooperation and victimization, they are eligible to move to the US, which they will be doing immediately following sentencing of the perpetrator. I am trying to get things in place for their arrival next week (for trial) and want to ease the transition and have been having a very tough time. I’m hoping you can help… Some of the things I am looking for are:
- Warm clothing to include hats, gloves, pants, shirts, boots, etc. (the boys only have very minimal clothes suitable for a warm weather climate like Honduras).
- The boys are in their early/mid 20’s and they are all on the smaller side. All wear a size Small for shirts/jackets and here are the rest of the sizes:
Victim 1—Pants- 30×32, Shoe size 8
Victim 2 – Pants- 32×30, Shoe size 7 ½ or 8
Victim 3 – Pants- 30×30 or 30×32, shoe size 9
Victim 4 – Pants- 28 or 29×30, shoe size 7 ½
- Miscellaneous items such as dishes, sheets, towels, mattresses, food,
- toiletries, etc.
- Gift cards to stores such as Walmart, Target, food stores: Giant, Acme
Please let me know if you can help in any way.
Cabrini Action & Advocacy Coalition email@example.com
18 Cabrini College students made 38 lobby visits Friday on behalf of our brothers and sisters around the world who are refugees fleeing war, experiencing climate change, or hoping to live a fully human life. So proud of these students, as well as several hundred Cabrini students in prior years, who have risen to the challenge to master difficult material, negotiate political differences, discover their core values, overcome nervousness, in order to speak truth to power.
Well done! Wanda Hernandez, Cabrini Mission Corps Rachel Recolcolin, Julia Alexis, Sarah Davis, Cabrini Missioner Morgan Perry, CRS Ambassador Casey Semenza, Cabrini Missioner Vanessa Miranda, Katie Montella, Cristabel Ruiz, Mike Burrell, Jordan Floyd, Alissa Oliveras, Kiley Sharp, Jerome Bailey, Steve Halko, Leonard Brock, Amina Etienne, Kalle Blindenbacher
They spoke with aides to Senator Pat Toomey, Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.,Congressman Joe Pitts, Congressman Robert Brady, Congressman Chaka Fattah, Congressman Patrick Meehan, and Congressman Brendan Boyle
Supporting the work of Catholic Relief Services and CRS University, they delivered 400 letters supporting CRS’s #IAmClimateChange campaign and the Green Climate Fund. They spoke in support of $1 billion in additional funding for Syrian refugees, as well as to maintain or increase poverty-focused development assistance.
Beginning in 2008, students each semester have traveled to our nation’s Capitol to meet with our elected representatives in conjunction with Catholic Relief Services and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to “Confront Global Poverty.” This year, Pope Francis has placed special attention on Caring for Our Common Home and climate change, and these students responded by discussing climate change with congress during the very weeks leaders from around the world are meeting in Paris to come to an historic agreement.
Similarly, in this contentious time, these students also bravely spoke about Syrian refugees and our duty to protect refugees seeking safety.
These students truly continue the work of St. Frances Cabrini, the patron saint of immigrants, after whom Cabrini College is named. #JusticeMatters
More photos at https://www.flickr.com/ph
The Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition joined with advocates from all over Pennsylvania at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg on Tuesday, June 9th, to visit legislators to discuss Senator Greenleaf and Senator Leach’s upcoming Safe Harbor Bill to protect minors who have been trafficked.
What does Safe Harbor do?
S.B. 851 would require law enforcement to report to the Department of Human Services any encounter with a minor who has been subject to sexual exploitation. The Department will develop and implement a state-wide protocol to deliver safe long-term housing, education, life-skills training, and counseling to the children who have been exploited. The bill would require that police be trained to identify and assist sexually exploited children. Most importantly, the bill would require that sexually exploited children be diverted from the criminal justice system to more appropriate human services.
Senator Daylin Leach (shown at podium) said, “There is no such thing as a child prostitute. There are only victims and survivors of child rape. S.B. 851 would establish a non-punitive response for juvenile sex-trafficking victims, and provide them with support to address their trauma and specialized services, which would be partially funded through enhanced penalties for traffickers, facilitators, and patrons of prostitution wherein the victim was a minor. Juveniles involved in sex-trafficking are already considered crime victims under international and federal law. Pennsylvania must advance anti-human trafficking reforms such as this legislation to protect these innocent children.”
The Cabrini Closet, NYC is Now Accepting Donations
Thanks to the hard work of the boys from St. Raymond’s High School, the Cabrini Closet NYC is now able to accept donations! CMC Missioner Melanie will be in the Cabrini Closet this Friday, May 1st from 2-6 pm to accept fashionable clothing, accessories, and gift cards. If you’re in the area, please feel free to stop by and get an advance look at this wonderful new ministry for survivors of human trafficking!
If you wish to make a donation but cannot make this date and time, please contact Melanie at 732-322-2956 or CabriniAandA@aol.com to schedule another time.
Cabrini Closet, NYC, 220 E 19th St, Lower Level, New York, NY 10003