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Day 4 of 16: The Story of JACK

by Karen Castellon, AWC Berlin member

What is human trafficking and who are its victims?  Human trafficking is the exploitation of men, women, and children who, through force or deception are made to work, for example, in prostitution, catering or agriculture.  In addition, other forced illicit activities include trafficking in organs, lured by the promise of a job that never materializes.  Victims of trafficking are often stripped of their legal documents, forced to work, and then required to hand over their earnings to repay costs incurred for their travel, lodging, and daily expenses.  Human trafficking is Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

editor’s note: Adult women account for almost half of all human trafficking victims detected globally. Women and girls together account for about 70%, with girls representing two out of every three child trafficking victims (UN Women Violence against Women Facts & Figures).

During a recent visit to the International Pastoral Center in Berlin, I hear a baby crying.  Following the cries, I discover an active childcare center with 5 children, including 2 infants, under the care of a volunteer.  After a diaper change, this 7-month old just wants to tour the room and particularly likes looking out the window at the neighborhood.  It is heaven to hold a baby!  When her mother finishes her German class, she scoops up her baby.  This childcare is free for the mothers who are studying at JACK.

cropped-websitelogomit-schriftzug2-2JACK is a non-profit training center that provides services to victims of human trafficking, including refugees and other vulnerable persons.  At JACK, women serve women, many from African countries, all in Berlin as immigrants and likely victims of domestic violence and/or sex trafficking.  Because they may lack proper documentation to access other services in Germany and are thus barred from access to education, JACK’s assistance and courses serve to help them gain practical training, build independence and draw strength and support in community.  The courses include German language, literacy, theatre, and basic computer technology.  Self-defense is also offered so that the women can acquire a technique for maintaining their own sense of physical safety.  Life-changing organizations like JACK rely heavily on the support of volunteers.

For groups like this there is an additional component vital to their healing process which must be discovered and nourished, says Lissy Eichert, a Catholic theologian and co-founder of JACK: their spirit.  As each woman faces great uncertainty moving forward, her spirit becomes the key source upon which she will necessarily draw for hope and possibility.  Each person, Eichert says,  comes with a unique spiritual formation – or none at all – and prayer must be adapted in whatever way best accompanies that individual’s faith tradition and circumstances. 

When we confront GBV through human trafficking, we recognize that collaboration between survivors and volunteers through organizations like JACK is key to breaking the cycle.  There are numerous tools available to combat human trafficking.  Pick an area, find a tool, and take action. 


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2. Listen and Learn 



3. Get involved with groups that help survivors of Human Trafficking, like JACK


4. As the holidays approach, consider buying ethically sourced products with the designation of “Fair Trade.”



The AWC Berlin participates in the 16-Day-Campaign against Gender-Based-Violence.  Each day, we highlight an aspect of GBV to raise awareness and call on our membership to take one small action to fight against violence against women.

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