No longer slaves, but brothers and sisters (Pope Francis)

"Caritas Internationalis (CI) and the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People will co-organize an international conference on human trafficking within and from Africa, in Abuja, Nigeria, from 5-7th September 2016, hosted by Caritas Nigeria."

Representing "Caritas Swaziland" I arrived in Abuja Sunday afternoon to attend this important event.  We are over a 150 people coming from more than 20 countries, most of us from the Africa.

Swaziland is known to be a source, destination, and transit country for the trafficking of men, women and children who are subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, and forced labor in agriculture.

Swazi girls, particularly orphans, are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude primarily in Swaziland and South Africa. Some Swazi women are forced into prostitution in South Africa and Mozambique after voluntarily migrating in search of work.

Swazi boys and foreign children are forced to labor in commercial agriculture, including cattle herding, and market vending within the country. Mozambican boys migrate to Swaziland for work washing cars, herding livestock, and portering; some of these boys subsequently become victims of forced labor. Also Swazi men are trafficked to labor in South African mines and other industries such as the timber industry in South Africa. Moreover, there is evidence that traffickers also transport individuals from other regions through Swaziland on transit to South Africa.

For these reasons the Diocese of Manzini (through Caritas Swaziland) has been reflecting on how to be more involved in the fight against human trafficking. This international conference provides a great opportunity to present our project and link with other partners in the continent.

In his 2015 message for the celebration of the world day of peace, Pope Francis wrote:
The theme I have chosen for this year’s message is drawn from Saint Paul’s letter to Philemon, in which the Apostle asks his co-worker to welcome Onesimus, formerly Philemon’s slave, now a Christian and, therefore, according to Paul, worthy of being considered a brother. The Apostle of the Gentiles writes: “Perhaps this is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother” (vv. 15-16). Onesimus became Philemon’s brother when he became a Christian. Conversion to Christ, the beginning of a life lived Christian discipleship, thus constitutes a new birth (cf. 2 Cor 5:17; 1 Pet 1:3) which generates fraternity as the fundamental bond of family life and the basis of life in society.
Providentially, that was Sunday's second reading at Mass. It seemed to have been chosen for us!

After dealing with the registration and collection of the material, we were treated for a good hour of Nigerian music and dances.

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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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