Oblate Voices is a JPIC blog that follows stories of hope and is about how Oblates and associates live and experience mission work in the spirit of the Oblate founder, St Eugene De Mazenod of responding to the needs of poor and most abandoned around the world.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

In the Spirit of Giving this Season: Give the Gift of FREEDOM by Christine Commerce, Diocese of Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force

Reflect upon your purchasing habits  
Christine Commerce, Diocese of Orlando's New Human Trafficking Task Force Coordinator, challenges us to become ethical consumers in her recent  blog post addressing labor trafficking and exploitation. "In our society of excessive consumerism, we often purchase things, whether we need them or not, just because it was on sale or we got a great deal.  People don't realize that many toys and clothing produced in countries such as Bangladesh, Burma, China, India, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam  are produced through either child labor, forced labor or forced child labor."


As the holiday season is upon us, here’s a challenge for you. Instead of days on end braving the crowds, fighting for a parking space and then frantically searching for the best deal for stuff that you and your loved ones probably don’t need, place more emphasis on the gift of time with family, friends, and those who are lonely.

In our society of excessive consumerism, we often purchase things, whether we need them or not, just because it was on sale or we got a great deal. People don’t realize that many toys and clothing produced in countries such as Bangladesh, Burma, China, India, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam are produced through either child labor, forced labor or forced child labor.

According to the United States Department of Labor, child labor means all work performed by a person below the age of 15. It also includes all work performed by a person below the age of 18 in the following practices: All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, and where work is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

Forced labor includes work provided or obtained by force, fraud or coercion, including: (1) By threats of serious harm to, or physical restraint against any person; (2) cause the belief that, if the person did not perform such labor or services, that person or another would suffer serious harm or physical restraint.

Consider shopping instead this holiday season with the Catholic Relief Services Ethical Trade Program (www.Ethicaltrade.CRS.org ) which has a plethora of reasonably priced gifts. This price tag comes with the knowledge that you helped uplift a world of people, who are paid fair wages, provided safer working conditions and have environmentally sustainable practices. So, if you’re looking for a good deal or even a fundraiser for your parish – that’s two great causes for the price of one.

If you decide to brave the hordes of shoppers searching for that excellent deal, consider downloading the Sweat & Toil app from the U.S. Dept. of Labor at http://www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/list-of-goods/. There at your fingertips, you will find a complete list of products and the countries that contribute to labor trafficking. Consider using this app not only during Christmas but throughout the coming year. It could be your New Year’s Resolution! Buying smarter may not save money but can help save lives.

Things have a price and can be for sale. But people have dignity that is priceless and worth far more than things.” – Pope Francis

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Changing Seasons @ Three Part Harmony Farm

I used to listen to the podcast "Another Round" with co-hosts Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton. I think they stopped making new episodes, but if you haven't heard the archives, they might feel dated but they are still entertaining.

At the end of each episode, as the "outro" music starts to play, Tracy says "Heben, we made it" and Heben always says "We made it: hey!"

That's kind of how I feel this week as we finally have the last seeds and plants in the ground after a challenging and sometimes harrowing September.

We started out this 2018 season with a bang: it snowed on the first day of spring! I remember looking out at the greenhouse covered in snow and totally packed to the gills with seedlings that needed to go out that very week.

Not a single month this year have we had "normal" weather. August seemed unseasonably cool. We took advantage and got a head start on the fall planting. The September rains we get during hurricane season did finally make their way far enough inland to not only give the farm a good soaking but dumped enough rain for us to save some for later. Besides walking in the puddles in the mud in my chacos (a type of outdoor sandals), I'm not sure what else we were supposed to do. Finding dry days to re-seed, looking for dry windows to get the remaining transplants in the ground: that became our sole focus this September.

Achieve success we did, and in no small part it was due to the tenacity of the crew and all the folks who helped including my mentor and a partner farmer to boot. That's what you call  all hands on deck.

Thanks of course to the CSA members who let me send endless recipes for the red mustard greens and the green mustard greens (pretending they are different vegetables) when secretly I know you really wanted to know what happened to the spinach we planted four times (they drowned the first three times.)

Despite weather ups and downs: our team is incredibly strong and the soil is alive. For every challenge we faced this season, we made it through because of the cumulative effort that's brought us to this, our seventh year during which we expanded our growing space to reach the maximum footprint and also peak production. 

We have so much to celebrate this season and I hope you will join us for another epic fall festival at Three Part Harmony Farm.

We've been so focused on re-seeding and re-planting that we haven't gotten out a lot of details about what will happen at the fall festival this year. Of course there will be garlic planting, games, potluck, music, and art! Stay tuned and check out updates on instagram. Tyler our photographer has already been posting highlights from previous years to get us all in the mood for a party.

See you there?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Le personnel de JPIC à l'événement AFJN, le samedi 15 septembre 2018

AFJN a commémoré ses 35 ans de plaidoyer. La célébration a commencé à 11h30. Fr. Aniedi Okure, le directeur éxécutif, a présenté le modérateur de l’événement, le professeur Robert A. Destro, directeur de l’Institut de recherche en politiques (IPR), après une courte biographie du professeur le présentant comme directeur fondateur du programme interdisciplinaire en droit et religion de Université catholique d'Amérique. Le professeur Robert Destro a été nommé par le président Donald Trump au poste de secrétaire d'État adjoint à la démocratie, aux droits de l'homme et au travail. 

La première partie de l'événement était focaliser sur la présentation du travail effectué par la Société des Missionnaires d'Afrique au cours des 150 dernières années. Les défis, les résultats et l'impact de la mission à travers le monde et en Afrique. Ensuite, la deuxième partie était la vue d'ensemble des 35 années de plaidoyer en Afrique de l'AFJN, par Sœur Eucharia Madueke et, aux États-Unis, par M. Bahati Jacques. L’AFJN a également offert un déjeuner gratuit et la réunion s’est terminée par deux bouteilles de champagne, célébrant l’anniversaire de la Société des Missionnaires d’Afrique et du Réseau Africa Faith & Justice.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Africa Faith & Justice Network (AFJN) Marks 35 Years

By: Bayor Chantal Ngoltoingar, JPIC Staff 

On September 14 & 15 Africa Faith & Justice Network (AFJN) marked 35 years of advocacy working with US lawmakers to promote just policies in US-Africa relations. The theme for the celebration was “Africa in Global Perspective.” The anniversary events included a policy briefing on Friday, September 14 on Capitol Hill and a program on the Promotion of Religious Freedom on Saturday, September 15, held at Catholic University of America.
I attended the event on Saturday and it opened with welcome remarks from AFJN’s executive director Fr. Aniedi Okure. Fr. Aniedi then introduced the event’s moderator, Professor Robert A. Destro, Director, Institute for Policy Research (IPR), at Catholic University. Prof. Destro is the founder and director of the interdisciplinary program in Law & Religion of the Catholic University of America. He was nominated this year by President Donald Trump to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.  His appointment is awaiting confirmation.

In the first part of the program Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, MAfr, a member of the Missionaries of Africa congregation and expert on Muslim-Christian relations delivered the keynote address and spoke about the work of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa over the last 150 years. The Archbishop outlined the challenges, results and impact of their mission across Africa and the World. 

In the second half of the program Sr. Eucharia Madueke, SNDdeN, Coordinator, Women’s Empowerment at AFJN presented on their activities in Africa, followed by Mr. Bahati Jacques, Policy Analyst who spoke on AFJN’s  past and current advocacy efforts  in the United States. 

Lunch was provided and the meeting concluded with the popping of two bottles of champagne, celebrating Society of the Missionaries of Africa and Africa Faith & Justice Network.