LifeWay Network was recently honored by a visit from Ms. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Trafficking, during a recent nine day visit to the United States.
Appointed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Ms. Giammarinaro is a human rights expert and judge in the civil court in Rome. She travels the world to observe what is being done to prevent or combat trafficking and protect the rights of its victims.
Ms. Giammarinaro and two UN staff members came to LifeWay Network to discuss issues surrounding human trafficking, and have LifeWay Network share its expertise as one of the few organizations that offers safe housing specifically for human trafficking victims.
They were welcomed by LifeWay Network staff, including Sr. Joan Dawber, Executive Director, and Elizabeth Falcone, Director of Safe Housing, along with LifeWay House host community members and women residents.
The UN team was very interested in hearing about LifeWay’s effective services for trafficking survivors, and its unique community living model that offers a safe and nurturing home that helps the women to begin to heal from the trauma they have experienced.. The value of our model was affirmed by a current guest who called it a “proper home” compared to her prior experience of shelters.
The conversation with the Special Rapporteur also focused on obstacles that survivors often face while they transition to independence, including barriers to obtaining legal status and work authorization for foreign-born persons. LifeWay’s current house guests were courageous in sharing their experiences and hopes for the future.
Ms. Giammarinaro reports annually to the UN, and also offers recommendations to each country she visits in her efforts to help bring an end to modern day slavery, and restore full independence for survivors.