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A Network of Spiritual Cooperation for Solidarity and Action against Human Trafficking and Exploitation

“Talitha Kum. Little girl, I say to you, rise up.”1 Jesus addressed these words to Jairus’ daughter, a 12-year-old girl who lay apparently dead. When Jesus took her hand, she immediately stood up and began to walk.

These words invite Talitha Kum’s networks to rise up with courage and hope, and stand with victims and survivors of trafficking in persons, whose hands reach out to us, to promote a just world in which every human being can live in dignity and fullness, thus fulfilling Christ’s message: “I have come that they may have life, life in its fullness.”2 Faith and spirituality make tangible the presence of God to transform the most hopeless situations, and raise to life what appears to be dead.

By referring to the transformative power of hope, compassion and mercy –  which underpins an active engagement for the restoration of the dignity of the exploited and oppressed as valuable members of the human family – the expression Talitha Kum defines the identity and mission of our global umbrella network that gathers more than 3,000 Catholic sisters, allies and friends. Formally established in 2009 as an international initiative against human trafficking and exploitation, Talitha Kum is organized in 60 local networks across nearly 90 countries, actively supporting victims, survivors and people at risk. While each Talitha Kum network retains its unique identity and operates within its own country or region, the Coordination Committee at the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) supports capacity development and training of networks and members, and facilitates the sharing of information, resources and experiences.

As an umbrella network of Sisters-led networks, Talitha Kum is grounded in the long, rich tradition of Catholic women, inspired by the life-giving ministry of Christ, who are committed to community work and collaboration, following the example of the Triune God: “Three persons in one, each with distinct roles but intimately united as one force, working together in love for the flourishing of life … [and] towards a common vision: a world without trafficking.” The strength of the Talitha Kum network lies in its bottom-up, grassroots engagement and in its person- and community-centered approach, which ensures proximity to victims and survivors of trafficking, their families, and those at risk of exploitation.

Our work with victims and survivors of human trafficking is grounded in the belief that the dignity of the oppressed and exploited can be restored through sororal and fraternal relationships, marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit and the mysterious encounter with God. In a relationship between equals, Sisters walk together with victims along the path of healing, as they regain a deep awareness of their inner value as individuals and members of their families and communities. In this manner, Talitha Kum addresses the systemic causes that leave people at risk of falling into the hands of trafficking networks, engaging families and local communities together with key stakeholders at the national and international level. As part of this effort, Talitha Kum networks supported 15,827 survivors in 2020 (For more information).

Rooted in Gospel values and Catholic Social Teaching (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: Gaudium Et Spes, Promulgated by his Holiness, Pope Paul VI on December 7, 1965, Encyclical Letter Laudato Sì of the Holy Father Francis on Care for our Common Home, Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti of The Holy Father Francis on Fraternity and Social Friendship, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis to The Bishops, Clergy, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking), Talitha Kum chooses to stand by those who are deep in the darkness of social vulnerability, oppression and exploitation, providing spiritual sustenance for a new, dignified life. For this reason, “Talitha Kum enters into the violent narrative of exploitation and trafficking in persons, weaving together gestures of welcome, care, empowerment, inclusion and good.” In doing so, Talitha Kum stands against political, economic, financial, social and cultural inequalities and inequities, and cares for people wounded by exploitation, making no distinctions of gender or sexual orientation, age, race or ethnic origin, language, religion, nationality, belief, disability, political or other opinions, membership of a national minority, property, birth or any other status.