Giving a Voice to the Voiceless

Sr Pat Kenny tells us of her experience of attending training in Advocacy, Lobbying and Campaigning, for RENATE Members, from 7th-12th March, 2016, at the Mater Salvatoris Retreat and Conference Centre, Máriabesnyö, Hungary.

Thirty four RENATE members, including Srs Eilis Coe and Pat Kenny, and three staff from a total of seventeen countries across Europe, gathered together at the Mater Salvatoris Retreat and Conference Centre, to train on Advocacy, Lobbying and Campaigning, with a view to giving ‘a voice to the voiceless.‘
It was a week of prayer, activities and capacity building, comprising presentations, discussions and active engagement. The week provided participants with an opportunity to share best practise, familiarise ourselves with the local context and get to know one another as a Network.
2016-7es-renateFollowing the annual meeting of the Working Board, on Monday, 7th of March, Ivonne Van de Kar, core group member of RENATE, delivered the two-day training programme on Advocacy and Campaigning. We learned that Advocacy is really awareness-raising while Lobbying was identified as ‘Advocacy with a goal’. It is an ongoing activity.never ending! Campaigning is much larger than Advocacy and aims not only to influence policy but also to raise public support; change attitudes and behaviours and give a project a broader impact.
To give us a picture of the local situation in Hungary with regard to Human Trafficking, we heard from a variety of groups
• SARA, which comprises of both Religious (5 Congregations of women) and lay
people. Their aim is to raise awareness and create a robust network to help those in distress. In the contemporary Hungarian Catholic Church, there is very little reference to Human Trafficking. Consequently, SARA sees the need to work with schools in prevention and awareness raising to inform youth who plan to go to Western Europe in search of better jobs.
• Youth Protection Programme – Human Eyes whose main aim is to repress the prostitution of children and youth vulnerable to and involved in criminal activities. There is an increasing number of boys being prostituted currently.
• Hungarian National Police – The policewomen presented a Powerpoint (available at which outlined the judicial structures of Hungary, from the Government down. This included the National Protective Service which interrogates crime within the Police and judicial services itself and the National Bureau of Investigation which works in the Human Trafficking area.
• RAVOT-Europe project – ‘Referral of and Assistance for Victims of Human Trafficking in Europe’ The speaker was from the Dept. of European Co-operation, Ministry of Interior, Hungary. The project involved Belgian, Dutch and Hungarian partners and the objectives have included the development of co-operation and mutual understanding, information exchange and the prevention of obstacles to referral processes. The net result has been a Hotline and the establishment of a State-funded shelter under the Ministry of the Interior.
• ‘Anonymous Ways Foundation’ – Servants Anonymous Foundation is a private, Christian foundation originally from Calgary, Canada and now in a number of cities in Canada and USA and locations in Europe and Asia. The inspiring presentation was given by two women running the foundation in Budapest for girls based on Gospel values of love, respect and the dignity of the human person. Their programme covers an AA 12-Steps course giving time for the girls to recover, train for work or school re-entry. The emphasis throughout is on building their self-esteem so they become more independent and responsible.
Full information is available on the RENATE website
This is a flavour of our time in Budapest, very full, but a great experience of networking as each time we meet we are more at ease with each other and understanding of where we all come from – that is both geographically and historically. I have been shocked at my own ignorance of what was happening around the world in my own lifetime.

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