Today is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita. Born in Darfur-Sudan, she was kidnapped as a child at the age of 7 and was enslaved. She was bought and sold several times before arriving in the Sudanese slave market. Along the way, she forgot her family name, and was given a name by the Arab slave traders: bakhīta, Arabic for ‘lucky’ or ‘fortunate’. She was forcibly converted to Islam. Her life enslaved was horrific.One of her many “owners” took her to Italy. There she found peace, came into contact with Catholicism, was freed by court ruling, and joined the Canossian Sisters. She dedicate her life to sharing her story of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering. She died in 1947 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in October 2000.
Her’s is a story of Hope. But today many trafficked people, enslaved in modern ways, live lives devoid of Hope. The Anti-Human Trafficking ministry page on my parish website offers more information and resources about human trafficking, a modern enslavement of people. Take some time and review the web page, click a link or two and see what you learn.
Does that surprise you human trafficking is a problem so close to home? Too often we think of human trafficking as a problem overseas – and it is. Or a problem of major metropolitan areas – and it is. Or a problem associated with the sex trade and it is. It is all those things and so much more. Sadly, it is never far removed from the ordinary of life.
Lest you think such things are distant in time or located in places far flung, take a moment to see how we unknowingly provide incentive for the continued problem of human trafficking. Did you know that there are estimated 200,000 child slaves working in Ivory Coast alone, harvesting 40% of the world’s cocoa beans? Follow the link and take the provocative survey that asks “How many slaves work for you?”
As people of faith and a community of believers, on the Feast Day of St. Josephine Bakhita, let us especially pray for the millions of people that have been victims of modern day slavery. Like St. Josephine Bakhita, may we stand firm in our resolve to create a slave‐free world.