Celebrating 15 years of foundation

 Celebrating 15 years of foundation  ING-021
24 May 2024

Over 200 delegates of Talitha Kum, the International Network of Consecrated Life Against Human Trafficking, gathered at the Fraterna Domus in Sacrofano, on the outskirts of Rome, for their 2nd General Assembly from 18 to 24 May. This year’s Assembly coincides with the 15th anniversary of its establishment in 2009 under the International Union of Superiors General (uisg).

Member congregations of uisg have been involved in ministering to victims of trafficking since 1998. Their first contribution was the production and translation of training materials by a study group formed under the Commission for Justice and Peace, thus raising awareness about the challenge of human trafficking at that time.

In 2001, Superiors General attending the uisg plenary in Rome made a commitment to work together to address the plight of women and children suffering abuse and sexual exploitation which led to the development of a training program and the establishment of several regional networks in collaboration with what was then known as the International Organization for Migration (iom). Various sisters and members of the iom traveled to various parts of the world holding workshops and conscientizing sisters about the challenge of human trafficking in their own country and worldwide.

In 2009, the uisg formally established Talitha Kum, and Sisters who were being trained in different parts of the world began to gather in a network. In the 26 years since uisg began its involvement in human trafficking, and in the 15 years of Talitha Kum’s existence, many sisters have united their efforts to bring an end to this evil.

True to its founding mission, Talitha Kum still engages at the grassroots level. Sr Abby Avelino, International Coordinator of Talitha Kum, explained that the, “expression ‘Talitha Kum’ refers to the transformative power of hope, compassion, and mercy, defining the mission of our global umbrella network”. Member networks engage in a person-and-community-centered approach that helps them draw near the girls and boys, women and men trapped in human trafficking or on the path to healing.

Talitha Kum International has become a network of networks and includes national, regional, and continental networks present on every continent in 107 countries. It collaborates with 5,871 active members and collaborators, including 777 congregations of women religious (115 more than 2022), almost 93 congregations of men religious, and 48 interfaith collaborators. This network allowed Talitha Kum to reach a total of 753,392 people in 2023, an increase of 34.4% over 2022.

In addition to its own network of members and collaborators, Talitha Kum has formed impressive partner relationships with Catholic organizations, NGOs and governmental and intergovernmental organizations. In 2023, Talitha Kum Networks collaborated with 297 Catholic organizations, 219 NGOs, and 204 governmental and intergovernmental organizations, a cumulative increase of 14.6%.

In September 2021, Talitha Kum expanded the involvement of young people, by establishing the Youth Ambassadors of Anti-Trafficking program in Asia. This program has grown and expanded worldwide, moving to Oceania, Africa, and Latin America. Last year, in Africa alone, it was able to reach 14,800 young people.

As part of their mission to be protagonists among their peers in combatting human trafficking, Youth Ambassadors have participated in the February 8th Marathon of Prayer since 2022. In 2024, they debuted in Saint Peter’s Square and were acknowledged by the Pope. On January 30, Talitha Kum Youth Ambassadors invited young people to get involved in caring for trafficked persons through its new Walking in Dignity App developed in 2023. The App invites young people to walk together with their peers. As users unlock content through the steps they “donate”, they can also engage in the effort to eliminate human trafficking as they discover how Talitha Kum performs its mission. In addition, steps that App users donate are matched by donors who support Talitha Kum’s mission. Talitha Kum International hopes to continue to expand its network to respond to the world’s great needs.

Sister Pat Murray, Executive Secretary of the uisg , reflecting on Talitha Kum’s journey said, “We are very proud and pleased in terms of the work that has been achieved, but we know that much more needs to be done to really combat this scourge on the body of humankind”.

By Sr Bernadette Mary
Reis, fsp