Sr. Adina Bălan, CJ, is the new Regional Representative of Europe
Sr. Adina Bălan, CJ, from Romania is a member of the Congregation of Jesus. She studied both Criminal and Civil law in 2006, and holds an M.A. in Communications, and is currently a PhD student at the University of Bucharest.
How has been your experience in your commitment against human trafficking?
In 2007, I met a victim of human trafficking for the first time at a conference in Germany. She was from Romania and this was when I was introduced to this topic. The impression her story left on me, challenged me to write my dissertation on Child trafficking and sparked in me the desire to do something to help people in such situations. In 2009, I founded SOLWODI Romania (Solidarity with Women in Distress), an NGO specialised in working with women and children victims of human trafficking or domestic violence.
Between 2012-2019 I was a member of the Core Group of RENATE (Religious in Europe Networking against Trafficking and Exploitation) and until 2020 I’ve been involved in training on leadership, women empowerment, advocacy, networking, and in writing safeguarding and child protection policy statements and procedures, as well as accompanying victims - probably the mission closest to my heart.
What are your current commitments?
I’m currently working in Rome, where I’ve been assigned since 2020 to a newly created ministry as JPIC coordinator (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation) at the congregational level, a joint mission in collaboration with the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I’m also a member of the advisory committee for the IBVM-CJ UN Desk, New York and a member of Pax Christi International Board.
What are some of your hopes in your new role as the Talitha Kum regional representative of Europe?
I play only a small part of the global mission to combat human trafficking. However, as the regional representative of Europe, I dream of more international meetings for our members, especially for those who fight against this heinous crime in the most remote areas, and are sometimes left out because of language barriers. I hope that through our advocacy, their voices, along with the voices of the victims, can reach those who control the necessary systemic changes and ensure each person’s rights and dignity are respected.
At the same time I hope that Talitha Kum’s efforts and priorities as well as those of Renate, the European network, and of other networks and institutions working in Europe against human trafficking are visible enough in our circles, communities, churches and the public sphere. Our collaboration will highlight how working together to prevent human trafficking protects the victims and how prosecution can be an effective method to stop the networks of those who destroy generations of young people through exploitation and other forms of abuse.
What are some of the challenges you feel that the Talitha Kum networks in Europe face in their fight against human trafficking?
For me the biggest challenges we face in Europe are detection, investigation and prosecution. Human trafficking blossoms from one country to another because of delay of procedures and focus on the victims and not on the traffickers and legislation, allowing women’s bodies to be used in the most abusive and brutal ways in brothels. This is especially true in countries where prostitution is legal and there is a lack of information for actors who interact with the potential victims as well as in prevention.
There are also challenges related to victims’ protection, mainly in relation to the lack of available services and continuous funding. I cannot ignore here the constant diminishment of religious congregations and their members’ involvement in this ministry, becoming more prevalent every year. There is still a reluctance of congregations to step into this field of ministry.
What does being part of Talitha Kum mean to you?
Three points come into my mind which are informed by the key pillars of synodality – communion, participation and mission. I see myself building on them through: sharing what I have learned and experienced in this ministry until now; listening to the needs of the members and trying to respond and exploring good practices, new friendships and collaboration.
April 18, 2023