Sisters protect young women from traffickers

Sr Eugenia (left, front row) with villagers after a human trafficking awareness talk in April 2018 (Supplied)

In a remote village on the Myanmar-Thai border, a centre run by the Good Shepherd Sisters welcomes young women who are at risk of being trafficked or who live in fear of physical or sexual abuse. Source: ucanews.com.

Four sisters from a local chapter of the Good Shepherd Sisters launched the centre in Yangon Ywar, Shan State, in 2017.

They run a residential program and provide a temporary shelter for vulnerable women while also offering vocational skills for their empowerment.

Sr Eugenia runs the residential centre near the town of Tachileik, which is now taking care of five Catholic girls aged 11 to 15, and is responsible for a program aimed at raising awareness of human trafficking.

“The program is open to everyone regardless of race and religion,” Sr Eugenia said.

The centre cannot accept many girls this year due to financial constraints. “We are planning to accept another 15 girls and women next year. We are also conducting an outreach program,” she told ucanews.com.

The sister said it is a challenge to deal with girls as many are emotionally damaged. “We need to be very careful when dealing with them as they need psychosocial support and suffer from depression,” said Sr Eugenia, who also cooks their meals.

She said the sisters offer life-skills training, teach them about their rights and deliver vocational skills sewing and embroidery.

Those the centre cannot accommodate are sent to other Good Shepherd facilities in Loikaw, eastern Myanmar, and Yangon as part of an exchange program.

Sr Eugenia said in 2018 the centre helped 19 young women who were trafficked in Malaysia reintegrate with their families.

“The Good Shepherd Sisters in Malaysia contacted us and asked if we could help the trafficked women in collaboration with local police,” she said.

As part of a monthly program, the sisters reach out to 12 villages nearby. The villagers are mostly Akha Catholics.

“Poverty, lack of awareness and illiteracy are the main factors behind the human trafficking problem,” said Sr Eugenia, adding that many parents send their young children to China in the hope of earning a better living.

The Good Shepherd Sisters also teach dozens of students from nearby villages who visit the convent at night.

FULL STORY

Myanmar sisters protect young women from traffickers (ucanews.com

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