Loreto Grammar School raises awareness on human trafficking
Human Trafficking is the sale, transport and profit from people who are forced to work for others against their will. This trade is the world’s fastest growing crime.
In December 2010, Sixth Formers from Loreto Grammar School received a visit from a local Church member as part of their General RE programme; they were introduced to the subject of Human Trafficking. The talk brought the issue close to home as they told of the human trafficking which is taking place in their home city of Manchester. One account highlighted the story of a woman who sold her own daughter to fund her drug habit, tricking her into believing she was going on holiday when in actual fact, she was being sold to a man her mother did not even know. The girl was abandoned without a passport in a strange country and sold into the sex trade. For our students the story of a mother exploiting her own daughter was particularly hard to hear. After this talk our General RE groups explored the nature and reality of sex and labour trafficking in the world today.
Loreto Grammar School is an all-girls’ Catholic school; as such, the exploitation and dehumanisation of young women all around the world is particularly pertinent. Our mission is rooted in Gospel values and the tradition of Mary Ward. We believe in the dignity of each and every human person, created in the image of God. ‘He came that we may have life and have it to the full.’ (John 10:10). A society that allows human trafficking is a society which denies all its members a full human life.
In September 2010, Dr. Gemma Simmonds, a sister of the Congregation of Jesus spoke at our annual Speech Night. She gave an inspiring talk about the power the Loreto girls have as young women of faith. When they heard about Human Trafficking months later, they put these two ideas together. Shanice Newsholme, a year 12 pupil was particularly outraged and energised on this issue and decalred: “We’re Loreto, we don’t stand for this, we stand up for this” and this was the beginning of our work to raise funds and awareness for human trafficking.
My students at Loreto Grammar have now taken it upon themselves to raise awareness about the issue not just within the school but at a community and government level; they have run poster campaigns, written letters to local MPs and the Prime Minister, petitioned multi-national corporation Nestle to commit to traffic-free cocoa as part of Stop the Traffik’s Valentine’s Day campaign and reached out to other Catholic Head Teachers in the diocese offering resources to teach their students about Human Trafficking. Most recently students took to the streets of Altrincham, Cheshire to hold a “human sale”; a stall was set up and price tags were attached to the students’ uniforms to demonstrate the way in which people are being bought and sold like commodities. The aim was to make a statement about society allowing this practice to happen and to challenge people’s awareness.
The work of the students are a testament to the fact that young people are deeply committed to building a more just world and give us all hope for the future.
Cheryl Miller is an R.E teacher at Loreto Grammar and is deeply committed to faith in action.
Sister Imelda Poole IBVM, who leads inspirational anti - trafficking work in Albania continues to inspire the girls of Loreto Grammar and throughout the year they hold fundraising and awareness raising events to support her very important work.