Health and Human Rights in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS: A Modern-Day Civil Rights Struggle

As Orthodox Christians, we are charged with viewing people of all races equally, both under God as well as societally. This stems not from political opinion, but rather our shared view that we are all created in His image. This year, as we commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we are reminded of his tremendous work towards racial equality and the sacrifices he made for civil rights. When evaluating the impact he has had on the world, we must not become complacent. As Archbishop... Read More

Convention Will Include a Presentation on Human Trafficking Victims

“And the King will answer, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:40)

In January 2011, the National Philoptochos Society, upon the direction of the Executive Board, began a new philanthropic initiative focusing on raising awareness and helping to prevent human trafficking in the U.S. Given this information, the New Philanthropic Initiative Committee suggested that chapters across the country work to inform their communities about the worldwide crisis of Human Trafficking. Since that time, Philoptochos has sponsored speakers and programs at National Board meetings, Metropolis meetings, local chapter meetings, and National Biennial Conventions, which provided human trafficking statistics and information on ways that local communities can help combat the crisis and help the victims.

Human trafficking is a global issue that affects 21 million people around the world, 1.5 million in developed economies including the United States. It is estimated that $32 billion in profits are generated from human trafficking worldwide. The United States is considered one of the top destinations for victims of child trafficking and exploitation.

On April 9-10, 2013, Archbishop Demetrios participated in meetings as a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Following the meetings, Archbishop Demetrios stated, “The task has been awesome because we had to deal with the tragic condition of slavery in our own times, of human trafficking ruthlessly involving millions of innocent people. Now is the moment of decisive action to eliminate slavery from the face of the earth. Once and for all!”

Human trafficking impacts members of all races, classes, educational backgrounds, genders, and age groups. A direct causation has been established between human trafficking, sexual exploitation and homelessness. Thus, efforts to combat homelessness are crucial to protecting the most vulnerable members of society from human trafficking.

As part of the upcoming convention in Nashville, the National Philoptochos will present a session by Thistle Farms/Magdalene Homes, an exemplary, residential program founded in 1997, which provides women who have survived lives of violence and prostitution with housing, food, medical and dental care, therapy, education and job training, all without charge or taking any government funding. Their motto of “Love Heals” aligns with the mission of Philoptochos, and through this presentation, National Philoptochos hopes to promote local chapters’ philanthropic endeavors to help victims of human trafficking recover and lead productive lives.

On April 9, “Athena” Philoptochos chapter of St. Vasilios Church in Peabody, Mass., hosted an auction, The Time is Now…Bring Hope To Those in Need, to raise funds to help counteract the effects of human trafficking. The event took place at Angelica’s Restaurant in Middleton, Mass., and raised $27,585.00. $20,000.00 was donated to two non-profit organizations, UNICEF-End Child Trafficking; and Crittenton Women’s Union, which helps low-income women and their families to achieve economic independence.

The exemplary work of the members of Athena chapter to raise funds to help combat human trafficking and assist victims to return to productive lives serves as a model for all chapters across the country. In addition to fund raising, donations of basic necessities such as toiletry kits, clothing, backpacks, school kits, holiday gifts, and food are needed by social agencies working with at-risk youth. Youth who come to these agencies for assistance usually have little or no personal possessions. Our gifts can offer them a hopeful, new beginning.

Over the past year, the New Philanthropic Initiatives committee has gathered information on social service agencies that assist vulnerable youth within the Direct Archdiocesan District and each of the eight Metropolises. Information includes the name and contact information of the agencies; constituencies served; services, activities and programs provided; and suggestions for ways to help. This information will be posted on the National Philoptochos website in time for the convention at: www.philoptochos.org/outreach/projects/

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