In ideal circumstances, we would be free to move and live where we choose. But this is not always the case.
This week we are looking at forms of modern slavery, including bonded labour and human trafficking. Share in the group your understanding of these issues. You might like to draw upon the media, personal experience or encounters with people who have experienced these things. Is there a story or situation that has particularly caught your attention?
For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love – and I, Paul, do this as an old man, and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus. I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become during my imprisonment. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful both to you and to me. I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. I wanted to keep him with me, so that he might be of service to me in your place during my imprisonment for the gospel; but I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced. Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother – especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, let me have this benefit from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.
Article by Luis Benavides, a lawyer with CAMI (Centro de Apoio e Pastoral do Migrante, meaning Support Centre and Pastoral Care for Migrants), based in Sao Paulo.
There are an estimated 600,000 immigrants living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The vast majority are here to find work, having come from other Latin American countries, in particular Bolivia, where there are few employment opportunities.
Many were lured to the city by recruiters who promised jobs with a salary, housing and food. Yet, on arrival, many found themselves in situations akin to slave labour, working up to 15 hours a day and living in unsanitary conditions with a poor diet.
David and Isabel came to Sao Paulo with the hope of building a better life for themselves. They paid a recruiter in Bolivia to find them a job and were required to hand over their personal documents. They ended up on a production line sewing clothes, being forced to work from 6.30am until 10pm each day, then sleeping on the same premises. Whenever they asked for their wages they were verbally abused and threatened with being reported to the police for having no documents.
Finally, David and Isabel and some of their fellow workers refused to keep working for no pay. The factory owner responded by trying to sell the workers to another factory in a bid to recoup the money he had paid the recruiter. At this point, CAMI heard about the case and stepped in, encouraging the victims to go to the police. On this occasion, the factory owners were arrested – caught red-handed in a police raid. But such happy endings are few and far between; thousands of immigrants are suffering in silence.
CAMI is working closely with the Diocese of Sao Paulo to raise awareness about the dangers of this type of labour recruitment, which is a form of human trafficking. We endeavour to investigate situations of slave labour and rescue workers. We offer legal support and counselling, and help immigrants to find real jobs.
You call us to bind up the broken hearted and set the captives free.
Open our eyes to the reality of modern slavery,
And to those in our midst who are trapped.
Thank you for those who are making a difference,
And may we, who are free, live lives that free others.