Human Trafficking: Ministering in the Streets

Blog by Associate Jackie Paluszak, OPA

As I think about the upcoming World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (July 30th), I can’t help but think of the message that Pope Francis sends us when he tells us that we need to be among the sheep: “Finding the lost sheep is a joy to God, because He has a loving weakness for those who are lost.” These were the words of Pope Francis during his homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta.

I am on two commissions on Human Trafficking. It is interesting to do the research, scour the statistics, and brainstorm about the ways we can reach out to help. I often wonder about new programs we can implement, where we can get funding, and how we can find more volunteers interested in the cause.

All of these are concrete issues: things that need to be addressed. But for me, there is a nagging deep inside that tells me I need to go out into the streets.
I’m not comfortable making decisions by talking about what we should be doing just by analyzing statistics or films that show what goes on in the streets.

The Educator in me needs to take it to the streets. I know the reality. I know the rejection. I don’t expect everyone to come running to me with open arms ready to share their story and accept my help. Although I have not worked with these women who have been trafficked, I have worked the streets doing my best to offer assistance to the mentally challenged, to those returning from prison, the homeless living under the bridge, in their own camps, homeless and on the streets, individuals with varying needs.

It is not an easy job.

You need to be gentle. You need to be kind, loving from a distance, and patient, very, very patient. And you need to be street smart or you won’t be able to accomplish what you need in order to be successful.

The Dominican women that I work with are trained and far more experienced than I am. The work that they do really makes a difference. They make a difference. They count. They make strides daily in this ugly world where human life is treated so deplorably.

My only hope is that after some training, I will be able to walk in the footsteps of these Dominican women, and if I can touch one person and make their life better, I will have achieved what Pope Francis challenged me, and all of us, to do.

Pope Francis reminds us, “Each one of us is precious; each one of us is irreplaceable in God’s eyes.” [Tweet 6/25/17] This is what we need to bring to the women we meet on the streets.

Posted in Just Reflecting, News

7 responses to “Human Trafficking: Ministering in the Streets

  1. Thank you, Jackie, for not letting the Covid Virus side-track you in this ministry. Our volunteers in Akron are doing their out-reach virtually at this point with hotel managers and staff but they are also volunteering with Rahab Ministries which goes out to the streets even at night. Your quotes from Pope Francis are perfect. Blessings on you,

  2. Wow Jackie you are an inspiration. I’m thankful for people like you. I am so far removed from the situation I feel all I can do is pray. Know you are in my prayers daily.

  3. Thank You, Jackie, not only for your reflection but your witness. Yes, it is not easy all the time but what reward it brings to minister and be ministered to by “God’s treasures”.

  4. Thanks, Jackie. This is such a good reminder not to be too judgemental or even afraid to venture out on the streets to “love on” these suffering victims.

  5. I had a ministry in Pittsburgh that you might be interested in knowing about. I worked with the housekeeping staffs in hotels/motels and taught them how to recognize when trafficking is happening and what to do about it. This is another way to get “out there”. You can contact me at joel.Campbell @juno.com

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