UNANIMA International – Update24th August 2012

Irish Eyes Were Smiling

…and so were eyes from Malawi, Zambia, Nigeria, and Australia, when I participated in a Dublin gathering of the Religious Sisters of Charity in mid-July. They were gathered for a variety of reasons: a week-long workshop on trafficking, a formation conference, the final vow preparation for some sisters from Africa, and the154th anniversary celebration of their foundress, Mary Aikenhead. UNANIMA board member Pat Kenny RSC and Suzette Clark RSC made sure all of them knew me–and all about UNANIMA– before we were finished! Pat is going to send a description of their meeting about trafficking for the next Update.

I also met with Holy Union Sister (and UNANIMA board member) Denise O’Brien, who took me on a jaunt to Newgrange, an archaeological site older than the pyramids, and showed me the Irish countryside. She also updated me on her extensive work against fracking, coordinated with other communities in the British Isles. A high-energy meeting with the Brigidine Sisters’ leadership team gave me many good ideas about interacting with our communities. And I had a proper Irish tea with Therese Fitzgerald, a Sister of Sion who volunteers with an organization in Belfast called EMBRACE NI. In the course of their work with migrants and refugees they have produced wonderful print and online resources for parish work, such as http://www.embraceni.org/category/christian-response/advice-for-churches/ . I only regretted not getting to meet with the two other UNANIMA communities in Ireland, the Sisters of Bon Secours and the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, but that will give me an excuse to go back!es. This is where the real work is going on; we will tell the UN about it!

This visit to Ireland just underlined the fact that UNANIMA certainly does not “happen” only at the United Nations—just this small sampling shows how these communities are working in most areas of UNANIMA’s mission: trafficking, water, migration/ refugees. This is where the real work is goingon; we will tell the UN about it!

Meanwhile, in Other Countries

UNANIMA works with CATW (Coalition Against Trafficking in Women), the first international NGO to focus on human trafficking. Their website, www.catwinternational.org/ has many useful resources in several languages. CATW has been very instrumental in giving New York City / state some of the best anti- trafficking laws in the United States, primarily because there are some smart, dedicated women lawyers in the group. On a hot day this past June 20, there were simultaneous demonstrations in New York, Phoenix, and Vancouver Canada, against Backpage.com. Backpage (owned by Village Voice Media) both facilitates and profits from sex trafficking. Go to the website backpage.com to find your state or country. Look under “Adult” to see the kinds of things they advertise.

Guest Commentary on Rio+20

“The Rio +20 conference brought together thousands of people from different backgrounds. Many ideas and hopes were shared. Different views of the green economy emerged. Positive sustainable development experiences of local and regional level gives more hope than the lack of international will to reach firm and historical commitments for people and the planet. UI members will have to take ownership of the Rio + 20 outcome document so that our interventions in the future can be more daring. Rio + 20 starts now!.”

Our Host Community in Rio

Most of the UNANIMA representatives at Rio stayed with our own Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, high on a mountain, in a lovely old French hotel purchased by Mother Cabrini herself! Here are our lovely hostesses.