8 February is the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking. Representatives from the local Catholic Church, youth group and Caritas staff from the national office and programs came together to observe the International Day of Prayer. This important event was led by Bishop Enrique Figaredo (Kike), Chairman of Caritas Cambodia and Fr. Hang Ly from the Apostolic Church of Phnom Penh.
As an annual day of prayer and awareness against human trafficking, Catholics all over the world are encouraged to host or attend prayer services to create greater awareness about this phenomenon. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, February, 8 is the feats day St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. Once, she was freed, she became a Canossian nun and dedicated her to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering. She was declared as Saint in 2000.
Why the day is important? To lead us into the action to fight against trafficking, Pope Francis has stated “Human Trafficking is a crime against humanity.” “It’s a disgrace” that people are treated “as objects, deceived, raped, often sold many times for different purposes and, in the end, killed or, in any case, physically and mentally damaged, ending up thrown away and abandoned,”(Source: Catholic news Services Dec 12, 2013)
At the beginning of the celebration, Bishop Kike highlighted many issues related to human trafficking and shared a case of human trafficking where two sons were sold to Thailand by their parents. All participants attending the day were listening to the sad story and praying for the sake of the two children as well as to all victims and survivors of human trafficking in Cambodia and different countries around the world. Their stories keep our eyes opening to fight against human trafficking worldwide.
Caritas Cambodia assists the poor solely on the basis of need, and not creed. We strive to promote human dignity, alleviate suffering and foster charity, justice, and peace. Caritas cares for people who are suffering from human trafficking. Mr. Kim Rattana, Executive Director of Caritas Cambodia said the day is significant as we came to pray and to take a joint action to support them. We respect all human being regardless their race, nationality, religion and social status.
“More importantly, we gather today to share our commitment with Caritas Internationalis, Caritas Asia and all our partners to raise greater awareness on human trafficking”, Mr. Kim Rattana stated. He invited all participants, Caritas Cambodia family to host and attend the celebration for a whole month, starting our prayer from individual family and community to show our ongoing effort to combat human trafficking
The day was ended with the activity by stamping hand on the white fabric to dedicate our commitment on fighting against human trafficking in all forms and concluded with a blessing given by Bishop Kike and Father Ly.