SNDdeNs Help Trafficking Victims Find Hope and a Home

Sisters in their 70s and 80s are providing a safe and welcoming home in the Boston area for 20- and 30-year old victims of human trafficking. Most of the young women have been from the Boston area; others have been from China and Zimbabwe.

Sisters connected with the Boston LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) began several years ago to raise awareness about the problem of human trafficking, then recognized the very practical needs the young women had for a safe, caring place to begin recovering from their experiences. The Sisters found a suitable house and funds to provide services needed – food, shelter, referrals for jobs, education, counseling. The most valuable gifts the Sisters provide are ones that they are exceptionally well-equipped to offer: a sense of family and community, acceptance, compassion, and encouragement.

For the past 2 ½ years, two Sisters of Notre Dame have provided hospitality for weeks or months at a time for the young women who share life with them at Bakhita House. Sisters from other congregations and many SNDdeNs and other volunteers make it possible for Notre Dame Sisters Peggy Cummins and Mary Jane Cavallo to staff the house and work elsewhere part-time, as well. Agencies such as the FBI, ICE, the police department and Catholic Charities refer trafficking victims to the Sisters, and the Sisters network with many other groups to find resources for their guests. Sr. Peggy quoted one young woman who stayed there: “At the end of the day, you are all I have.”

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in the U.S. took a corporate position against human trafficking in 2010, and are implementing it in a variety of ways. The House is named for Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese woman who had been sold into slavery when she was 7 years old. Canonized in 2000, she is the patron saint of Sudan.