The 2nd Regional Meeting of Wells of Hope Network in Middle East
From September 24-27, the Wells of Hope Middle East Network held its 2nd Regional meeting at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cross in Bkinaya, near Beirut, Lebanon. This meeting united the Union of Superiors General, Regional Superiors of Lebanon, member participants- with support from the Catholic Patriarchs in the Middle East- and 23 participants from Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt, spanning various faiths. The goal was to exchange experiences, address concerns, and share anti-human trafficking best practices while forging a collaborative path with Talitha Kum International.
The primary goal of the Regional Meeting aimed to bolster the identity of the Wells of Hope network in the Middle East by focusing on members' understanding of Talitha Kum International's Vision, Mission, and Spirituality. Each day began with a profound prayer led by Sr. Cecile Hijazin, and Sr. Adina Bălan CJ, the regional representative of Talita Kum for Europe, facilitating the sessions.
The first day addressed the unity and reality of each network, emphasizing prevention, victim care, and community empowerment. The second day explored unique approaches to combat human trafficking in the Middle East. Day three involved devising an action plan within the Talitha Kum international network and the final day featured a dialogue amidst the iconic Lebanese cedars hosted by the Lebanese team. During sessions, participants addressed strengths and concerns from the Talitha Kum Call to Action document to work on an action plan for the 'Wells of Hope' network, encompassing capacity building, financial and human resources, formation, and intensifying coordinated regional responses, particularly for the urgent needs of women and children.
Additionally, Sr. Abby Avelino, International Coordinator of Talitha Kum, shared insights on the organization's work, policies, and inter-country coordination. She also introduced the global networks affiliated with Talitha Kum and encouraged the Wells of Hope network to contemplate possible strategies for discussion at the Talitha Kum General Assembly in 2024.
The representative of the Union of Superiors General in Lebanon saw the Regional meeting as a call to rekindle hope and work together in a synodal spirit to protect and assist those at risk. Furthermore, Mr. Matthew Luciano, President of the International Organization for Migration in Lebanon, discussed international and regional laws on migration and human trafficking. Notable guests included Father George Jubayr from the Syriac Catholic Church and Jesuit Refugee Service members, who added valuable insights to the conference.
Ms. Nassim Alwan, a storyteller, used the fig tree metaphor to emphasize the beauty, vulnerability, and courage of human trafficking victims. Wells of Hope Egypt summarized the Regional meeting by knitting a palm-shaped net, echoing the Talitha Kum logo. As the Conference concluded, it's evident that there's much work to be done in the Middle East to combat human trafficking. However, the inspiring dedication of young professionals to overcome indifference and ignorance with limited resources, is remarkable. The region's cultural diversity offers an opportunity to embrace, explore, and support.
The takeaway for me is their joyful spirit and friendship, along with the stories of rescued victims and sisters who hope to offer people a better future through Talitha Kum International in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.
By Sr. Adina Bălan CJ, the Regional Representative of Talitha Kum for Europe
October 13th, 2023