Day 8 of the 11 Days of Action – International Day of the Girl from Latin America at the GSIJP Office

Today at the GSIJP Office we celebrate reflections from Latin America.  Three countries contributed to the Girls Speak Out in the United Nations on October 11.  Columbia shared many photographs

 

 

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and a video which I think contrasts girls living and having childhood experience – school, play, culture and games and another group of girls who are influenced and socialized into a different reality.  Sr Bianca, the  director of the program makes the following observation: “El vídeo enviado en el correo anterior fue iniciativa de las niñas y Adolescentes, desafortunadamente es la realidad que viven en su barrio, ya pueden ver el tipo de música y la forma de bailar a tan temprana edad; este programa existe para tratar de ofrecerles otra a alternativas que dignifiquen su proyecto de vida y prevenir toda clase de abuso.”

 

Translation – “The video sent in the previous email was an initiative of girls and adolescents.  Unfortunately it is a reality that young girls often live in neighborhoods where they are influenced (socialized) into sexualized behaviors through music and dancing at a young age.   The program exists to offer alternative experiences such that girls have an opportunity to experience childhood and their dignity as girls to counter and prevent all kinds of abuse.”  Thank you Sr Bianca for your work and dedication with and for girls.

Read the experience of girls in El Salvador (Spanish Only)

 

 

Preguntas Katherine y Preguntas Keiry y Preguntas Milagro

Read from two more girls Julissa y Lidia  Preguntas y dibujo Julissa y  Dibujo y preguntas LIdia

 

 

 

We have some drawing from girls in Honduras 6 – 10 years expressing what they would like to be when they group up.  We have a doctor, a professor, a swimming instructor,  another doctor,  religious sister and a secretary.  These girls were excited to take part and responded immediately and confidently.

 

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International Day of the Girl (IDG) 11 October 2018

Day-of-the-Girl-2018_social-images-01October 11 is fast approaching and we are on Day 5 of the 11 Days of Action leading up to the celebration.   Join us for a Twitter Chat at 11AM EST led by @GlobalGirlsGLOW to discuss how girls and their allies can act against injustice!  Join the conversation using hashtags #HerStoryCampaign #IDG2018 #generationgirl #11DaysofAction  You can follow on Facebook  at Day of the Girl Summit @DayoftheGirlSummit.  Yesterday October 4th the GSIJP Office featured Indira from the Mahila Documentary.  If you got to Justice Peace page of the website you can see the Facebook and Twitter posts WGG Her Story

Today, Her Story is asking girls and their allies around the world to share a story about a time they or a girl they know took action to challenge injustice. Then share a photo or video of girls in action and tag @GlobalGirlsGlow and @LitWorldSays with #HerStoryCampaign #GenerationGirl.

All this will culminate in the Girls Speak Out at the Unites Nations on Thursday October 11 starting at 3.00 p.m. EST.  It will be Webcast Live from the United Nations

Congratulations to Afrida from Indonesia was was in solidarity with Day 4 showing the Mahila Film in the classroom and photographing the class activity and sharing with you all.  And my observations it is a day for girls and boys!  Well done Afrida!

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Helena Moderno (left) from Portugal is doing an internship at the GSIJP Office for 6 weeks and is engaging in the IDG activities particularly the social media part. On the right is Alexis our new staff and the WGG wristband with the slogan ‘Girls’s Rights are Human Rights’

Read the reflections of girls from Myanmar and their experiences of being girls  Khin , Nu and Shwe by clicking on their names.  These experiences will be captured in the Girls Speak Out.

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Nepal

 

Read this great poem from Sanju in Nepal.     Woman Thou Art That Light – Nepal

Congratulations Sr Taskila!

 

 

‘Raising the Needs of the Girl Child’ at the High Level Political Forum on July 12th

WGG HLPF 2018 Side Event Flyer July 12

The Working Group on Girls was honored to be joined by Her Excellency, Ambassador Sima Bahous of the Permanent Mission of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jourdan to the United Nations, to raise the needs of the Girl Child during the first week of the High Level Political Forum .  Her Excellency (center)  was warmly welcomed to the event by the Moderator Deisha, and Laura both Working Group on Girls, Girl Advocates.

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Her Excellency highlighted the fact that the SDGs do not exclude the girl child nor is the girl child confined to SDG 5.  In fact, the girl child is impacted for the better by implementation of all the goals but particularly by SDGs 6, 7 and 11,  under review this year.  The education of girls is key to their empowerment and further, girls are change agents in their communities and in society.  They are often affected by social stigma and misunderstanding.  We must never stop advocating for equality and justice.

Winifred Doherty introduced the theme from the perspective of the SDG’s under review.  Read the text Raising the needs of Girls

Panelists included Dr Rimah Salah, Former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, who starting by saying that in both peace and war the girl child is subjected to so much.  She lives in the ‘shadow of inequality’  relegated to care taking, cooking, childbearing, collecting firewood and fetching water – the unpaid labour, which is often not regarded as important by the society.   Peace and sustainable development are indivisible elements towards the girl child’s empowerment and well being.    These elements call for innovative and transformative approaches coupled with  social protection and the implementation of her human rights as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).  Girls are not a trivial group.  Migrant, displaced and refugee girls should not be criminalize.  In fact they are agents for peace.

Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, CEO, Global Network of Women Peace Builders, shared with us the names and experiences of girls affected by war and how being engaged in the  “Girl Ambassadors for Peace” program brought healing, voice, empowerment towards leadership and being agents of peace.    Her sharing provided a moment of moving from head to heart and solidarity with girls who are most affected.   Mavic outlined some of the challenges helping girls who are illiterate to know and understand Security Council Resolution 1325.  Can you imagine the pain experienced when a girl child is a discriminated against as a  ‘terrorist widow’?   How promote a narrative of peace?  How change mindset from ‘violence is cool’ to ‘peace is cool’?  How shift the burden from the girl child to the perpetrator?   Techniques include participatory theater and economic empowerment.

Devika Kumar, presented an initiative she undertook following a visit to India and discovering the harsh reality for girls there during their menstruation days caused by lack of opportunities to use and have access to menstrual hygiene products.  In response to this reality Devika created the MAHI project See more here    Here are some statistics about the reality

  • 23% of girls in rural areas drop out of school due to menstruation
  • 53% of school girls were never provided any type of education about menstruation
  • 27% do not have access to pads, tampons, or other management materials

Laura

WGG Girl Advocate Deisha and Laura did a fabulous job – Deisha moderating and Laura responding to the panelists presentations.  Both Advocates recalled their experiences with WGG over the past two years from the ‘Girls Speak Out’ on October 11 to the Commission on the Status of Women and how they have developed and grown – deepening their understanding of the issues that girls face, assuming leadership roles and taking their seats at the table on behalf of all girls.

 

 

What is HLPF? A UN Platform to review Sustainable Development!

2018 HLPFThe United Nations High Level Political Forum 2018  (HLPF) commences on Monday July 9 and will finish on Thursday July 18.   What is HLPF?   It is a United Nations platform  on Sustainable Development.  The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) was mandated in 2012 by the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), “The Future We Want”.

The HLPF on Sustainable Development  provides political leadership, guidance and recommendations. It follows up and reviews the implementation of sustainable development commitments and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It addresses new and emerging challenges; promotes the science-policy interface and enhances the integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

This year the theme is “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”.  The thematic review will  concentrate on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 6, 7, 11, 12, 15, and 17.

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Good Shepherd reporting on implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (see chart) tells us that we as an organization are not fully cognizant of the intersectionality of the goals.  The SDGs under review this year appear to be the same SDG’s that we are weakest on.  (see chart below).  Reflecting on this leads me to ask where are the people in the goals currently under review?

Report HLPF 2018

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(Chart from page 5 of Report HLPF 2018- GSIJP Office Report)  See   Report HLPF 2018

From my personal experience in grassroots ministry working on issues of water, sanitation, and energy for example were always at the core of community development, and women’s empowerment programs with the big focus on addressing the multidimensional aspect of poverty and gender related issues.  The focus was people centered – the girls and women carrying water – negotiating with local government for water connections to enable girls to school and mother to have time to earn income.   Witnessing fuel carriers (choosing some images from google to make my point) children

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and girls carrying such weights, the impetus is to remove the burden from that child, that girl, that mother hoping that the systems and structures that created such dehumanizing conditions would soon change.

Drawing from the Secretary General’s Report Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (see pages 7 and 8) I ask how will the 844 million people around the world who still lack access to a basic drinking water source  or the 1 billion without electricity be impacted by this session of the HLPF in 2018?   The tension for NGO’s on the ground is between alleviating immediate dehumanizing conditions while waiting for political momentum and resources allocation towards reaching the loftiest ideals of ‘leaving no one behind’ and ‘reaching the furthest behind first.’

Cecilie Kern from the GSIJP Office with the Mining Working Group of which we are members has contributed to publishing a paper on Water, Women & Wisdom     Screen Shot 2018-07-07 at 4.00.04 PMa Companion document to Water & Sanitation – A People’s Guide to SDG 6 

DonatusIn El Obeid, the sisters run two schools that have been upgraded from kindergarten to primary. A feature of these services is that they offer opportunities to children to attend school who otherwise would be excluded because of poverty. The school compound has some vegetation (flowers), is equipped with a reservation tank for water storage, and has toilets and clean water. During school holidays, tutorials are provided for the children. Apart from poverty, child, early and forced marriage is a problem that the sisters continue to encounter through education in both locations. (Excerpt from narrative report from Sudan)

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It is interesting to see where the links of water, sanitation and energy  are in our Position Papers  There is no actual naming of SDGs 6 or 7 but reference to water, sanitation and energy are in the papers on Economic Justice and  Integral Ecology.  See Page 7 (f), Page 14 and page 15 (j) for reference to water and sanitation and energy on Page 15, Paragraph 6 (c) referencing the need for personal responsibility in the use of energy and water, a call to avoid non renewable energy and support low energy production and for support of  political action on national energy policies and sustainable water usage.

Position Papers       Française     Español

In our survey report there was one response to SDG 12 on Responsible Consumption and Production.  You will not find SDG 12 named in the position papers but the term production and consumption is referenced in Economic Justice and Integral Ecology.  In Economic Justice (page 6, paragraph 4)  we are challenged to support sustainable production and consumption patterns and the Integral Ecology paper (pages 14 and 15 ) challenges us to re-evaluate prior conception, previous understandings, and unquestioned practices.  “We cannot ignore that the “dominant pattens of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion of resources, and a massive extinction of the species.”  We see injustice when “communities are being undermined and the benefits of development are not shared equitably.” We know that “injustice, poverty, ignorance and violent conflict are widespread and cause great suffering.”  The discord we experience within the very air we breathe, the water we drink, and among our communities calls for a response consistent with our mission of reconciliation which calls us to “join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice and a culture of peace.” (Quotes excerpted from the Earth Charter, 2000)   The last quotation is an echo of the three pillars of sustainable development – the environmental, the social and the economic – upon which the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is founded.

Reference on page 14, paragraph 6 (c) and (i) are apt calling us to convert individual and communal behavior from ecological ignorance to environmental sustainability naming specifically waste and consumption and (i) evaluate and adjust personal and communal decisions in areas of consumption, production, and use of natural resources in the light of sustainability of the universe.

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See more …

 

Reflecting on the outcome document of CSW 62

CSW 62 W 3The Commission on the Status of Women –  annually the most well attended event of the UN Calendar – with women for all walks of life coming to the United Nations, New York to advocate basically for the human rights of women and girls. I find a certain tension in the agreed conclusion between the need to address ‘all’ women and girl including those living in rural areas  Paras 2, 3, 14, 25, 26, 32, 41, 42, (c) (l) (aa) (jj) and (ww)  when in fact this year was specifically dedicated to ‘Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women girls.’  Maybe this is reflective of the dynamic tension, enthusiasm, and controversy concerning gender equality that is evoked from start to finish of the Commission.  Is there a fear that some women and girls – ‘those furthest behind’ – might gain at the expense of the whole?  This is impossible as the pre-ambular paragraphs only reference previously agreed, international law and frameworks from CEDAW to Beijing to the Sustainable Development Goals and the agreed conclusion are what they are ‘agreed conclusion’ and not legally binding.

Read the CSW62 Agreed Conclusion – Advanced Unedited Version

While the focus was specifically on ‘rural women and girls,’ yet prior to the commencement of the Commission the was a sense of unease about the meaning of the  phrase ‘rural women and girls.’   A suggestion was made many times that the phrase ‘women and girls living in rural areas’ would be much more acceptable – focusing on the intersection of women and girls and the very specific geographic location where they are living.   While much advocacy was done to have the terminology changed,  the bureaucratic institution of the United Nations approves the concepts used and ‘women and girls living  in rural areas was not one of them’! Likewise girls living in rural areas, while appreciating their visibility in the document,  would like to see their human rights issues addressed specifically and separately  from women focusing on the intersectionality of discrimination against girls and a specific geographic area, the ‘rural’.   Another bureaucratic hurdle for another time.

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Interesting in reviewing the document there are a few times when the phrase ‘women and girls living in rural and remote areas’ – Paras 36, 37 and (aaa) – has been incorporated into the  document – so maybe we as advocates have some new agreed language – referencing these agreed conclusion going forward.  An NGO group advocated to have reference to ‘mountain’ women in the agreed conclusion so I wonder how they feel with ‘remote areas’?  Does that include them?

I found some reflections and comments on the agreed conclusion.  UN Women had this headline –  UN Commission on the Status of Women delivers a blueprint to ensure the rights and development of rural women and girls.   ‘Food security and nutrition, land water, food, work and a life free of violence and without poverty as main issues to tackle.’

Soroptomist International had a reflection contrasting disappointment and rejoicing. One Group sorely disappointed were Widows for Peace through Democracy who were advocating for the inclusion of widows in the agreed conclusion knowing first hand the multiple and intersecting discriminations widows in rural areas experience.

Femnet – the African Women’s Development and communication network commented that CSW62  ‘It is rejuvenating, reenergizing and exciting to have such a progressive outcome document out of CSW…’   If you read on you will see their summary of  gains and losses.   One loss  is that labour rights for women was not shifted to the global level.

Vigil CSW 62We have a comprehensive, complex and eclectic agreed conclusions but where does one begin to implement and  evaluate?  Who is implementing what, where and how?  Apart from the preamblur paragraphs and the closing paragraphs there are three main section:

  • (i) the normative, legal and policy framework
  • (ii) implement economic and social policies for the empowerment of all rural women and girls.  But this begs the question which economic and social policies do we specifically need for women and girls.  Maybe the answers are in OP’s  (m) to (iii) What of environmental policies – the effects of climate change, climate induced migration  etc?
  • (iii) Strengthen collective voice, leadership and decision making.   During the first week of CSW 62 we were confronted with the murder of Mariella Franco.  The issue of the inclusion of Human Rights Defenders in the agreed conclusion was contentions up to the end mentioned in Para 42 and OP (rrr).

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 1.39.44 PMAre the two weeks of  CSW merely a time of playing around with words, engaging in political rhetoric,  maintaining national sovereignty and entrenched cultural and religious positions, while being blind, deaf, and unmoved to action  by the daily suffering caused by  poverty,  hunger, and violence that women and girls living in rural areas experience.   The continual lack of food, threats to food security,  no social protection, no land rights, scarcity of water, lack of provision of health care, education and decent work coupled with natural disasters and climate induced migration are features of the feminization of poverty.  A concluding paragraph in Rev 1 of the agreed conclusion read ‘ The Commission call upon Governments to heed the urgent United Nations humanitarian appeal to assist counties facing drought, starvation and famine with emergency aid and urgent funding, and underlines that, if no immediate response is received, an estimated 20 million people, most of whom are women and children, risk losing their lives.’  This paragraph was not in the final document!  READ more …

My answer to the the question I posed above is that such debate at the global level is not only necessary but vital to inching forward gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women living in rural areas.  Action is taken by the very same women who come to CSW year after year.  In the case of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd see our documentary out of India  Mahila – A Women’s Movement Rising

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Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) March 12 – 23, 2018

 

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The Commission on the Status of Women commenced on Monday March 12.  It was preceded by the NGOCSW Consultation Day on Sunday March 11.  The team from the GSIJP office attended together with two of the Good Shepherd Volunteers,  Amore and Samatha and Nancy Fritche Egan (known to many of you) and her friends Eileen Reed, Diane Jordan, and Lucia Alcantara.

 

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It is impossible to be abreast of all the activities that CSW provides but one thing is sure we were constantly concerned about girls and women who live in rural areas and face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination throughout their lifecycle – the list is endless – poverty, food insecurity, violence, trafficking, sexual abuse, race discrimination, and violations of human rights.  We were advocating for the right to own, inherits, bequeath, manage and profit from land and productive assets; access to physical, mental, and reproductive health care and services, quality education, provision of credit facilities,  financial inclusion and social protection floors, zero tolerance of  abusive labour practices, human trafficking, prostitution, child early and forced marriage, rape, sexual harassment,  and female genital mutilation.  We seemed to be alternating between issues and groups that are discriminated against, widows, older women, indigenous women, girls, migrant women, low paid women, girls and women with disabilities, and mountain women and girls.  Concern was expressed about the lack of safe drinking water, water supplies, and scarcity and lack of adequate sanitation facilitates, hygiene facilities including menstrual hygiene management.  Other global issues like climate change, and armed conflict were also addressed.  The situation of women human rights defenders was  made ever more poignant by the assignation of Marielle Franco, a Brazilian activist, on March 14th in Rio De Janeiro.

The response from the 193 member states comes in the form of ‘Agreed Conclusion.’ They are being negotiated during this second week preparing the way towards commitments to girls and women living in rural areas to uphold all human rights, and implement economic and social policies for the empowerment of all girls and women, while strengthening girls’ and women’s collective voice, leadership and participation in decision making at all level.

The Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women this year is H.E. Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason from Ireland.  We wish her success as she chairs the negotiations for the best possible outcome for girls and women. The opening of the Commission and all formal meeting were Webcast and can be accessed HERE

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The UN Secretary General had a townhall meeting with women gathered for CSW 62 and you can also follow how the #METOO campaign was brought forward.  The various panels addressed the various issues contained in the priority and review theme

  • Priority theme:
    Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls;
  • Review theme:
    Participation in and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women (agreed conclusions of the forty-seventh session);

Engagement of Good Shepherd at the Commission was on a few levels responding to various invitations to engage and contribute.  Monique Tarabeh , communication in Rome submitted artwork for the NGOCSW handbook, GSIF office prepared an advertisement encouraging people to view MAHILA  The GSIJP Office prepared a statement to the Commission available in the 6 languages of the UN  Statement to CSW 62 and Mirjam Beike, NGO Representative to Geneva, currently in New York, drafted and presented an oral statement to the Commission on the girl child supported by 26 religious and faith based organizations.   Click on Mirjam to see the video.

Good Shepherd co-sponsored two side events one on human trafficking in collaboration with the Mission of the Holy See to the UN – read the summary HERE  “The common narrative of rural women lured into big cities by the false promises of traffickers and forced into sex slavery was described at the keynote speech of the conference by survivor Mely Lenario from the Philippines.” – A Good Shepherd Service in Cebu. –  Following Mely presentation there was standing ovation.  Webcast of the event

The second event was on water and was entitled ‘Wisdom, rural women and water, Unmuting women’s voices for integrated Water Policy’.  This event was prepared by the Mining Working Group and Cecilie live-streamed it on Facebook   Link to morning briefing webcasts that I participated in  Morning Briefing March 20 and  Morning Briefing March 22

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Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 11.39.50 AMSarah Benson from Ruhama (Ireland) and Coalition against Prostitution (CAP International) had a number of event which featured survivors of human trafficking as well as NGO’s and Members of Government.   The Mission of Ireland Webcast  led in ‘Presenting challenges and considering solutions to combat sex trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls (CSW62 Side Event)’   The Irish Ambassador to the UN Geraldine Byrne Nason paid tribute to the work of Sarah Benson.  Well done Sarah!   Grégoire Théry CAP International chaired the event.

Activities are multiple and complex engaging not just at the political level but also socially and in supportive roles with other NGO’s particularly the NGOCSW Committee.                                                                                                                                                                          Nancy & MirjamFor me this year I was very engaged in and committed to preparing for and following the an outcome document.  Mirjam represented us at the NGOCSW Reception on March 13th where she was photographed with Nancy Fritche Egan.  This event overlapped with the Coalitions Against Trafficking in Women’s reception which I attended,   The ARISE Foundations sponsored a reception on March 11th for religious engaged in anti-trafficking work.

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 1.52.35 PMAnother side event entitled “#MeToo Say Survivors: Human Rights, Gender and Trafficking in Human Beings’ was held on 15 Mar 2018.  It was organized by OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, UN Women,  United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) together with Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) and Equality Now. Link to Webcast.   Some extraordinary survivors of prostitution and human trafficking shared their stories.  Mira Sorinvo, UNODC Goodwill Ambassador was also a panelist.  ‘#Metoo movement must represent trafficked and prostituted persons.’

 

On Saturday March 17th there was a strategy meeting with the Women’s Major Group in preparation for the High Level Political Forum which will take place in July.  Mirjam attended this also.  There was an opportunity to remember human rights defenders and all activists who engage on behalf of girls and women.  In the moment of reflection it was my privilege to remember our own Good Shepherd Auguchita, who gave her life too!  I did write her name and place it with the others.

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Blanca Nubia (Good Shepherd Sister) welcomes Pope Francis to Cartagena

“And so, about four years ago, I began a new program for girls. We called it Talitha Kum, words from the Aramaic Gospel phrase Jesus used to bid a girl to rise up. It honors the dignity of each person. According to the mission of our congregation, I had made a decision to go to the tourist city of Cartagena de Indias, the colonial name when Cartagena was a port for export of silver to Spain and import of slaves from Africa. It is famous for being a walled city — and, indeed, many invisible walls hide lives of poverty, unemployment, gangs and early pregnancies in squalid neighborhoods. Good Shepherd has a center dedicated to the prevention of sex tourism, which is, sadly, the specific object of many tourists.

At Talitha Kum the children “rise up” every day. We welcome children (ages 9-17) to a program that includes school, human and spiritual accompaniment, and enrichment of family and civic environments. We are always proud when, as recently happened, a 17-year-old girl finished high school and now continues her study. ”    Read the full article   Global Sisters Report – Papal Encounter in Cartagena, Colombia

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