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Volume 23 Issue 1 April 2022

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Daring in Hope! In the daring of hope!

By Lucy Nigh, SSND, Central Pacific Province

For 11½ years, SSNDs have been at the border of Mexico and the USA in Douglas, Arizona addressing what Pope Francis calls “an absence of human dignity on the borders.” (Fratelli Tutti) For a year, we have been part of the volunteer team at the Migrant Resource Center in Agua Prieta, Mexico, offering a warm welcome as our migrant guests arrive—even during the night! We are ready with coffee, food, and socks—and something to replace clothing full of cactus spines or with blankets, gloves, and hats for those who are shivering in the chilly winter mornings! Recently a migrant smiled his appreciation saying, “This is the first time in my journey north that I feel treated as a human being.”

We hear stories of trauma, incredible stamina, heartbreak, and love. “My life was saved by angels in the desert,” Luis shared. “After 5 days of walking my blisters were so bad that I couldn’t keep up with the group. I continued slowly and alone. Without water on the 7th day, I began to drink my urine. Finally, I laid down to die. My eyes were stuck to my eyelids and I couldn’t open them or move my body, but I could hear.  I heard migrants, who stopped, touched me and realized that I was still alive. They tried to revive me and then left me with 4  gallons of their own water, along with food and medicine! I found new strength to walk again, not really knowing in which direction to go. On the 9th day, a policewoman saw me and drove me to the Border Patrol station.”  We are gifted and inspired by the migrants’ gratitude and spirit of resilience.

Sister Lucy Nigh doing footcare

Modern Slavery and Talitha Kum, A Call to Action

By Marinez Capra, SSND-International Shalom Coordinator

Modern Slavery comes in many forms, including human trafficking, forced labor, forced prostitution, debt bondage, and forced marriage. An estimated 40.3 million people are enslaved worldwide. 71% are women and children. The last Global Slavery Index 2018  provides a country by country ranking of the number of people in modern slavery, as well as an analysis of the actions governments are taking to respond, and the factors that make people vulnerable. The map shows only the worse five countries but this human rights violation is present in almost every country in the world.

How does my country figure in it? How much of what we consume may come from the slavery chain production?  See more information at List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor and Council Foreign Relation Info Guide. One way for people to address this violation of Human Rights is to engage with the Talitha Kum Call to Action. As presented below.

 The International Network of Consecrated Life against Human trafficking Talitha Kum celebrated its 10th anniversary launching a Call to Action. It is shaped around four main objectives: to care for victims of human trafficking and exploitation, and for people at risk; to heal physical, psychosocial, and spiritual wounds; to empower victims and survivors, as well as individuals at risk, by amplifying their voices; to restore human dignity by promoting access to justice. In order to achieve these objectives, Talitha Kum wishes to invite stakeholders to join forces in the following key areas of engagement, which are particularly impactful at the level of individuals, communities, and systems.

Ensuring access to justice and long-term, state-supported psychosocial and health assistance, as well as work and residence permits for victims in destination countries. Empowering women and girls, as well as their families and communities. Supporting safe and legal migration pathways, including in cases of forced displacement. Promoting an economy of care and solidarity.

 

How can this Call to Action be integrated where we live and ministry?

Educating for Cooperation: challenging individualism

By Renáta Erős, SSND, Hungarian Province

My goal is to strengthen the spirit of Laudato Si’ (LS) in my students. Pope Francis says, “We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes, and forms of life.” (LS 202.)

Our students are strongly influenced by individualism. Their goal is competition. Cooperation is much harder for them. I want them to learn that caring for the world entrusted to us by God and building just structures for the dignity of human life are only possible by working together. To help students grow in this spirit, I created a game that began as competitive. But in the end, they had to work together to find the hidden «treasure». They were given only one of the tools needed for their tasks. They had to ask for other tools. Also, to find the «treasure», teams received only one piece of the map. They had to put the pieces together to win. Many students denied having a tool rather than helping each other. Eventually, the «treasure» was found.

In their reflection, many students said they prefer to compete rather than to cooperate. One said that no one won, although everyone was rewarded. It was an educational game for me and the students. For them, competing, beating the other is a familiar and challenging task that they enjoy. In contrast, cooperation is much harder for them I will plan similar experiences so they can learn that “we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.” (LS 229.)

Learning the art of cooperation

UN event on the tips of your fingers

By Beatriz Martinez-Garcia, SSND, UN-NGO Representative

Have you ever participated in a United Nations event? If not, this is a great opportunity! Are you ministering to and with indigenous peoples? Are you interested in indigenous issues?

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) will be from April 25 to May 6. The UNPFII is an advisory body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) established in 2000. The Permanent Forum provides expert advice and recommendations to the Council on indigenous issues such as economic and social development, health, culture, education, the environment, and human rights.

This year’s discussion theme will include “Free, prior, and informed consent” which is a specific right that concerns indigenous peoples. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognizes this right. It allows indigenous people to give or withhold consent to a project that may affect them or their territories.

During the Permanent Forum, you can virtually attend two types of events. UNPFII “official meetings” will be led by the Member States. Open meetings of the Forum will be online at webtv.un.org «Side Events” will be led by Member States or UN agencies with civil society organizations and will be held online.  For more detailed information go to Sessions | United Nations For Indigenous peoples. If you are interested in this event, please contact the UN-NGO Representative.

We collaborate with others for the dignity of human life

By Beatriz Martinez-Garcia, SSND, UN-NGO Representative

Written Statements provide opportunities for non-governmental organizations to address and influence the decision-making of Member States.  Last October, we SSNDs endorsed the following written statement submitted by the Working Group to End Homelessness (WGEH) to the Members States of the 66th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66), which occurred last March. The priority theme of CSW was achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change.

The WGEH advocates at the UN for vulnerable persons, pursuing the human right to adequate housing for all. It was crucial for the WGEH to address the Commission and highlight the concerns about women and girls who are homeless or living in an unsafe place due to factors related to climate change.  Under these circumstances, women and girls suffer poor physical and emotional health, are limited in their ability to learn, to attain sustainable livelihood, and to flourish with human dignity and equality.

The WGEH also urged the Commission and Member States to take action to address the root causes of homelessness. These recommendations are on pages 3 and 4 of the following document: E/CN.6/2022/NGO/116.  Consider inviting other sisters or people who know persons who are homeless or live in shelters to share their thoughts about the following statement: Now is the time to focus on housing as a fundamental human right and a determinant of health and sustainable development during the planetary climate emergency.

The gift of our internationality impels us to be aware of global needs and to work in collaboration with other groups who advocate and act for the well-being of those whose voices are unheard in our world.

Our ministry at the United Nations provides many opportunities to collaborate with others. One example is our membership in the Coalition of Religious for Justice (JCoR).

JCoR gathers the hearts, minds, efforts, and voices of 20 Catholic organizations of men and women religious accredited by the United Nations. Together we share our love for God’s people and the call to serve our brothers and sisters who are impoverished. As members of JCoR, we work together at the UN and around the world to address the root causes of poverty, the devastation of the natural environment, and unsustainable development.

JCoR provides in-person or online advocacy workshops and training for religious in India, West Africa, and Latin America. JCoR also offers training for new NGO representatives at the UN and offers welcoming gatherings and orientation workshops for those who attend UN events such as commissions and the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF). In 2021, some SSNDs attended the virtual training sessions for the HLPF and a gathering of religious who participated in the Commission on the Status of Women.

On the second Friday of each month, JCoR invites you to participate in the online GLOBAL COMMUNITY HOUR. You will meet religious from around the world and pray, share justice concerns, and learn about the advocacy of the JCoR’s members at the UN.  More information at JCoR – Justice at the heart of global transformation (jcor2030.org)

In Memoriam Cathy Arata

(Former International Shalom Coordinator 1999-2007)

Cathy, many time, we shared from the heart. I cannot believe you are gone. However, you left in us the witness how prophetically to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God as you heard and answered the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth. Now, in total union with God, intercede for peace and justice for our wounded world!

Shalom/UN-NGO Newsletter is a publication of the School Sisters of Notre Dame
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