AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - International Network "Talitha Kum": Father Gonsum on the fight against human trafficking in Africa

Tuesday, 11 June 2024

Ouagadougou (Agenzia Fides) - Father Augustine Rotshak Gonsum is originally from northern Nigeria, precisely from Pankshin in the state of Plateau. He is a priest of the Society of African Missionaries (White Fathers) in Burkina Faso, currently in the Province of Francophone West Africa (P.A.O.). He lives in the "Maison d'accueil" community in the capital and works at the "Pélican" educational center in Paspanga (Ouagadougou). He spoke to Fides on the sidelines of the General Assembly of "Talitha Kum", the international network against human trafficking and exploitation, of which he is deputy coordinator in Burkina. The assembly was attended by representatives from 90 countries around the world, gathered at the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) to mark the 15th anniversary of the organization founded in 2009.

"The organization is present in several places in the African country: Bobo Dioulasso, Ouagadougou, Banfora, Diébougou, Koudougou, Nouna, Tenkodogo, Dédougou, Gaoua and Ouahigouya," reports the missionary. "With our commitment, we want to promote, encourage and advance communities that are free from human trafficking, safe and healthy for all. We promote respect for the fundamental rights and dignity of all people regardless of their race, religion and origin, the unconditional love of Christ for people and an inclusive environment," he emphasizes. "

The Talitha Kum network is committed to ending human trafficking, abuse and exploitation of vulnerable people through prevention, awareness-raising, advocacy and victim support activities. We seek to engage in meaningful direct dialogue with people who want to leave their country in the hope of a better life, conduct educational programs to sensitize individuals and communities to the issue of human trafficking, and participate in studies and research to better understand the causes and risk factors for exposure to new trafficking scenarios," reports Father Augustine.

Among the initiatives launched by the network in Burkina, Father Augustine lists sensitization of pastoral workers, meetings in schools, colleges, universities and parishes, and broadcasts on radio and television channels about the reality of human trafficking. "But we also host many victims and survivors," adds the missionary. "We try to offer them a climate of security and prepare them to return to their countries of origin. There are victims from Cameroon, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso... Social reintegration consists in offering them school or practical training as a source of income so that they can more easily reintegrate into society. All this," the missionary concluded, "presupposes that we find resources or direct them to other bodies to ensure their support. That is why we are in close contact with embassies, youth ministry, hospitals, police stations, women's centers and the Ministry of Youth and Justice."

"Talitha Kum has become a widespread and global network, which at the same time is also well rooted in the local Churches," said Pope Francis on May 23 in his address to the participants in the meeting of the international network, "It has become a point of reference for the victims, their families, the people at risk and the most vulnerable communities". (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 11/6/2024)