BRANCH OF THE VINCENTIAN FAMILY INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT: Sisters of Charity Halifax

NAME OF SYSTEMIC CHANGE PROJECT: LifeWay Network

PROJECT ADDRESS: 85-10 61st Road, Rego Park , New York , 11374

CONTACT PERSON: Joan S. Dawber, SC

LENGTH OF TIME THE PROJECT/PROGRAM HAS BEEN IN EXISTENCE: 3.5 years

PROJECT WEBSITE: www.lifewaynetwork.org

LifeWay Network was established in 2007 and collaborates to combat human trafficking through a two pronged approach: 1) Education of the general public 2) a pilot project to establish a network of Safe Housing.

The Education program has provided presentations to schools, parishes, colleges, women’s groups, and civic organizations in the US and Canada but primarily in New York. Its purpose is to offer education and awareness opportunities about the issue of human trafficking in particular to bring to awareness the “demand side” of human trafficking and to suggest actions steps to eradicate this human rights violation.

The Pilot Project of safe spaces (three host communities) began in Dec 2009 and has provided housing for two victims of trafficking and is presently housing one woman. LifeWay collaborates with a service provider who partners to offer: intensive case management, health care, legal and immigration counseling, translation and education services.

It is our hope to help trafficked victims move towards healing and wholeness, build self confidence, trust and become fully independent persons who can help and assist other victims. This is a very complex process that requires a multidisciplinary approach and several months, even years of care.

LifeWay Network began with awareness that human trafficking existed and that women and children made up 80% of the victims. The idea developed that together women religious in New York might be able to offer safe spaces and education in collaboration with others to end human trafficking. It has grown from there.

We created the New York Coalition of Religious Congregations – Stop Trafficking of People (NYCRC-STOP) and established LifeWay Network the not for profit corporation. Together we work on housing, education and legislative advocacy.

The coalition has a membership of 30 Congregations including Sisters of Charity-Halifax and Sisters of Charity New York, both members of the Vincentian family.

It is continuing to develop and hopefully will include a trafficked survivor on the board in the near future. However, it is only since 1999 that we in the US have become aware of human trafficking and the enormous needs of the victims. The services, personnel and finances are still not available. It is where domestic violence was 30 years ago. It seems it will take some time before the participants will take any leadership role – this is always our hope.

In these initial stages LifeWay Network is managed by Sisters of Charity Halifax and the Board of Directors. The programs operate in collaboration with other religious congregations and Service Providers in New York. The long term plan is to involve survivors of human trafficking.

Long range planning:

1. Create a long-term safe house 6-12 Months with a wide range of services related to legal services, immigration issues, education, job-training, health care, mental health counseling and community organizing.

2. Create a community where survivors can support and empower one another. Explore a permanent housing facility for survivors and their families or a neighborhood near the long-term house where survivors can continue to be part of each other’s daily lives.

3. A community of survivors successfully organized in conjunction with allies to bring about changes in policies, beliefs, and practices that bring about an end to human trafficking.

Education:

4. Do outreach in the education program to speak with more young people especially young males.

It is our plan to empower participants (Trafficked Survivors) to take leadership positions in the near future.

LifeWay network employs the strategies of legislative advocacy, systemic change education and advocacy with appropriate agencies/organizations to promote systemic change.

  • LifeWay Network collaborated to bring about the stand alone NYS Anti-Trafficking Law in June 2008
  • Through education presentation on human trafficking and the root cause of poverty we have educated over 1,200 people, since 2007
  • By collaborating with agencies and organizations and serving on several trafficking coalitions in New York and nationally we continue to advocate for change.


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